Bellator Prez Talks Canada, Featherweight Tourney with TMN
Tonight, Bellator 46 kicks off the first round of the Bellator “Summer Series” Featherweight tournament. The event comes live from Florida and will be broadcast live on The Score. Top MMA News had a chance to chat with Bellator president Bjorn Rebney about the Featherweight tournament and their plan to put on shows in Canada for the first time.
The Summer Series features the 145 pound division and Bellator’s group of Featherweights is impressive. Eight fighters will begin the tournament in hopes of winning the right to face Bellator’s Featherweight champion. Rebney talks about his impressive cast of Featherweights,
“This Featherweight tourney has the likes of Ronnie Mann, Nazareno Malegarie, Pat Curran, Marlon Sandro. These are great fighters…I was reading a magazine the other day and it had three of the top six Featherweights on earth coming from Bellator. Our Featherweight division is just stacked.”
Indeed it is and Rebney credits his team for scouting out the best fighters from all over the world. When asked which weight class is deepest in his organization, the Bellator chief has a hard time picking but eventually states, “145 and 135 are amazingly strong. Its really a testament to our team’s finding great talent from all over the world.”
This talent will be heading to Canada on July 23 for the semi-finals of the Featherweight tournament. The event will be held at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario and will also feature the Featherweight championship match between current title holder Joe Warren and challenger Patricio “Pitbull” Friere. This July 23rd event will arguably be the one of the top collections of Featherweights ever fighting on the same card. Bjorn explains why he is taking this card to Canada.
“We wanted to make a good first impression, because you never get a second chance at that, so we wanted to bring a great card and spectacular fight to Canada. The Joe Warren/Patricio Pitbull title defense is a spectacular fight…we wanted to do it the right way….and make the right kind of splash.”
Bellator did try to come to Canada once before, but their Bellator 9 event announced for Montreal was moved for unspecified reasons. Why come now?
“We are much diffent company than when we announced the Montreal show. We hoped to pull that event together, but we had to move it to another location. Now, we have great partners with CasinoRama, a spectacular resort casino, and a great card to bring Canadians.”
Rebney adds that another influential partner is the Score,
“We wanted to come up to Canada due to the great ratings and relationship we have with the Score. The Score have been really good partners for us and we are coming up to their backyard…we are an hour and half from their broadcast studios. There is great synergy between our groups.”
With the Score Fighting Series featuring some of the best Canadian fighters and Bellator planning to hold cards in Canada, it seems natural to add Canadians from the Score Fighting Series to the Bellator cards. Rebney confirms that will be the plan but will not confirm any of the fighters at this time.
“We have been talking to (Score Director of Product Development) Brendan (Fyfe) and hope to have a reciprocating arrangement. Guys on Score Fighting Series who do well could fight on Bellator events and, if they do well, go back to the Score. Maybe there will be some qualifiers on the Score Fighting Series to fight on Bellator. We will get some (Canadian) guys who are a good fit for our event.”
Fans are encouraged to watch the fights tonight and attend Bellator 47 on July 23 at Casino Rama. If the show is a success, expect a second Bellator show at Casino Rama before the end of 2011.