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Bellator MMA Institutes Five-Round Fights For All Main Events

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A week ago Friday, Bellator MMA returned to England for Bellator 267, a highly-anticipated card headlined by the second head-to-head confrontation between Michael “Venom” Page and Douglas Lima.

As has always been the case for a nontitle main event in Bellator MMA, this headlining bout was slated for three rounds at five minutes per round– a fight that saw MVP win via split decision after 15 minutes of action.

Five-Round Fights the Norm Starting Next Year

But as Bob Dylan once so aptly sang:

“The times, they are a-changin’…”

…a sentiment that now holds true for Bellator MMA.

Wednesday, during an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Bellator CEO Scott Coker announced an adjustment to his promotion’s headliners.

Effective in the new year, all Bellator main events will be a maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round, including those without a championship at stake.

This is the second major adjustment made by Bellator in 2021, as back in February, the promotion revealed on CBS Sports HQ that it would institute a rankings system voted on by a 15-member panel– comprised of the top 10 fighters in each weight class, its champions, and the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters for both men and women.

Before Coker’s announcement on Wednesday, the only time Bellator would hold a nontitle fight with a maximum five-round length would be in the promotion’s Grand Prix tournament, such as the ongoing bracket at light heavyweight.

Coker’s Rationale is Simple

In explaining the reasoning behind the move to five-round main events across the board, Coker mentioned that the fans of MMA had a role to play in this decision.

“This is something that a lot of MMA fans might feel like this happened in the last two or three months because of the way the chips fell in someone’s fights,” Coker began, “but really, we’ve been talking about this for the last six to eight months, and we decided that on Jan. 1, 2022, that all the main event fights will be five rounds going forward.”

The announcement was met with applause by Helwani.

“It’s not going to be for the Fedor (Emelianenko) fight or any fight that happens between now and Dec. 31, but on Jan. 1, moving forward, all (main event) fights are going to be five-rounders,” he continued.

All remaining nontitle fights for 2021 in Bellator MMA will remain a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round, as per the language agreed to on the fight contracts.

When asked to go in-depth on his decision to expand five-round main events to nontitle fights, Coker reiterated his commitment to giving the fans.

“We were discussing, ‘Man, I sure would have liked to see another couple of rounds of that fight,” he said. “And this is earlier throughout the year, and then when the fight happened with Yoel Romero, I said, ‘Man, I sure would have liked to see two more rounds of that fight.’ With MVP, the same thing. I said, ‘OK, guys, we’re going to pull the trigger.'”

Five-Round Non-Title Main Events a Long Time Topic of Discussion

Scott Coker noted that the move to hold all main events as five-round fights didn’t come together overnight.

“It’s been in the works internally for a while,” he said, “and I think that people want it, the fans want it. I think the fighters want it, our company wants it, so that’s where we’re going.”

No Date Set for First Card with Five-Round Non-Title Main Event

There is no concrete schedule of events for the new year in Bellator MMA, and thus, there is no date set for the first card with a five-round non-title main event at present.

Stay tuned to Overtime Heroics for any news concerning Bellator’s 2022 schedule and the date for that first five-round non-title main event.


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Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images

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