Bellator MMA will return this summer for another "Summer Series" of tournaments, but it will do so with a twist on its regular format.
Instead of eight-fighter tournaments like it has done throughout its run, Bellator this summer will put on three four-man tourneys. The promotion announced the plans on Wednesday, though it has not yet announced dates, locations or participants in the tournament events, which will air on Spike TV.
As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) previously reported, the tournaments will take place in the heavyweight, light heavyweight and bantamweight divisions.
When the promotion returns to its regular weekly Thursday time slot this fall on Spike, the tournaments will revert to eight-man events.
"We are always striving to enhance every aspect of the Bellator formula for our fighters and fans," Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. "Our champions consistently defending their titles against world-class challengers who've earned their title shots creates a win/win for those two crucial groups. Three stacked four-man tournaments over our 'Summer Series' on Spike is another great step in our growth and evolution."
This past month, Rebney told MMAjunkie.com he was especially looking to target the heavyweight division this summer to create the next challenger for champion Alexander Volkov, who won the title against Richard Hale this past December after previous champ Cole Konrad retired, vacating the title.
"I would love to do heavyweight over the summer," Rebney said in March. "So that's where I've been focused with the team at talent development."
In the light heavyweight tournament, the next in line for the belt will be crowned. In Bellator's Season 8 205-pound tourney, Emanuel Newton beat Mikhail Zayats to advance to a title shot against Attila Vegh. It's possible that fight could take place as part of the 'Summer Series,' with the four-man tourney winner advancing to meet whoever comes out of Vegh-Newton as champion.
And bantamweight titleholder Eduardo Dantas this past month beat Marcos Galvao to retain his belt. Galvao won the Season 6 bantamweight tournament, but Bellator hasn't held a tourney in that division since then.
Bellator's "Summer Series" is expected to take place with one event per month in June, July and August before Season 9 begins in September.
For more on Bellator's upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.