Bellator LW GP Discussion Thread

The LW GP is to me the most interesting thing done in the Coker era of Bellator. The tournament is stacked with former UFC/WEC/Bellator champs and former prestigious GP champs.

Here is first side of the brackets. The winner of 1. will go on to fight the winner of 2. in the semis.

  1. Usman (champ) vs Bendo (March 10th)
    16-0 new champ who is only 24 and happens to be Khabib’s cousin vs an aging former UFC/WEC champ. Had a controversial SD win over AKA/EAGLE fighter Mamedov two fights ago and beat Conor’s training partner Queally in Dublin in his last fight.

  2. Barnaoui vs Outlaw (May 12th)
    ROAD FC 46-man GP champ Barnaoui vs Outlaw. Outlaw is a former ROC WW/LW champ who won a DWCS fight but didn’t get a UFC contract (like Chris Curtis and PFL champ Loughnane). Outlaw was booked for a Bellator title shot until the champ Patricky pulled out two weeks before the fight last summer. The winner of this fight moves on to fight the Bellator champ in the semis.

The other side of the bracket…
3. Musayev vs Shabliy (March 10th)
Musayev is the former RIZIN GP champ. Shabliy beat former Bellator champ Primus in his last fight and he is 14-1 in the past decade with the only loss coming to former ACA champ Vartanyan via split decision in 2016.

  1. McKee vs Patricky (date of fight TBD)
    McKee is the former Bellator 16-man GP champ who has now moved up to LW and most recently defeated the RIZIN LW champ on NYE. Patricky is a longtime Bellator vet and former LW champ who lost the title to Usman in his last fight. McKee is of course, now 1-1 vs Patricky’s brother and has a rivalry going with the Pitbull brothers.


I’m glad Usman & AJ are on opposite sides. Best case scenario is those two meet up in the final round. That matchup is very interesting


Yeah, I didn’t see the brackets until I made the thread but I’m fine with them. You can’t rule out any upsets with this field.


I hope AJ pulls off the tourney win

I think there is a strong argument that Bellator could have made this a 16-man GP if they wanted to and casual and hardcore fans would have been happy with that as well.

Most of the top 10- top 20 ranked fightmatrix ranked Bellator fighters have recently lost to GP fighters and the whole thing could have really been seeded and framed as a GP from the start.

By June though it was pretty obvious that Bellator would run a LW GP in 2023 and when Shabliy beat Primus, Barnaoui beat Piccolotti, McKee beat Carlye and Bendo beat Queally that those fighters had punched their ticket to a GP spot in an 8-man GP and there was no chance it would be a 16-man.

For example, if Bellator was gonna run a 16 man GP instead then they would have given say Primus a more winnable fight than Shabliy right before the start of the 16 man but instead when fights like Shabliy vs Primus and Barnaoui vs Piccolotti happened…those fighters were fighting in eliminator fights to get a spot in the 8-man GP while other fighters like Patricky and Outlaw had more of a guaranteed spot. Even though Outlaw lost his last fight to Musayev, I think Bellator wanted to get him in the GP because he took that fight on short notice after Patricky pulled out of their title fight two weeks out. Would have been hard to get other fighters like Mamedov a spot in the tourny because being a teammate of Usman, those guys were not gonna fight if they met in the finals so there is no point booking him for the tourny.

Solid lineup

For later

This is a thread that should have 100 replies already …

Interesting that Primus dropped a split to Mamedov and then beat Bendo and then got TKOed by Shabliy and is not in the tourny. I figured he might not be as the Shabliy fight was unofficial “round of 16” and he lost.

Meanwhile Bendo had the SD go his way vs Mamedov after Primus beat him and then went and beat Queally and now finds himself in a title fight.

“I was told I was in the tournament,” Primus said. “I literally called my manager every week for the last couple of months. ‘Dude, you’re in the tournament, I’ve already talked to him. You’re in the tournament, don’t worry.’ And I went to conditioning and looked at my phone and saw that I wasn’t in the tournament and, man, I just wanted to cry. I lost all motivation. It just hurts, man. Hurts really bad.

“I re-signed with Bellator a couple of years ago and that was one of the things like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna do the million-dollar lightweight tournament,’ so that was in my head the whole time. I was gonna put everything in this tournament and win this tournament so my wife can retire and doesn’t have to work anymore. I’m so freaking heartbroken, man. I respect Bellator, I love them, they picked me up when I was only 2-0 and nobody fighting me locally. I was thinking about giving up MMA so I respect them a bunch, but this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard.”

The lightweight tournament starts March 10 with champion Usman Nurmagomedov defending his title against Benson Henderson, who lost to Primus in October 2021, and Tofiq Musayev vs. Alexander Shabliy. Mansour Barnaoui faces Sidney Outlaw on May 12, while A.J. McKee takes on former champion Patricky Pitbull on a yet-to-be-announced date.

“What is so frustrating about the whole situation is I’ve been asking for a fight and they offered me a fight [against] that Mansour [Barnaoui] guy who’s in the tournament,” Primus said. “They offered me to fight him at the end of October in Italy. I said yes without hesitation. I thought I was fighting him. I was training for him, my wife asked for time off of work, my family started looking for plane tickets, and then a week later I got a call from my manager saying, ‘He does not want to fight you for his first Bellator fight, he wants to fight somebody else, so that was off the table.’ I was really pissed off about that. For him to say he doesn’t want to fight me and he’s in the tournament now is like a kick in the gut. It’s so hard to deal with, man. I’m so sad and disappointed. It sucks.”

Primus is 3-2 since losing the Bellator belt to Michael Chandler in 2018, but feels he had done enough to win a decision against Islam Mamedov in 2021. Primus said he was promised a title fight after beating Henderson three months later and jumped right back into camp, spending “a bunch of money,” but then “we found out that I’m not fighting for the title.” Primus lost to Alexander Shabliy in his most recent appearance.

“I’ve been training for [the tournament]. I’ve been training my butt off. It sucks,” Primus said. “I thought like, ‘Man, should I just retire and start teaching or get a job?’ I still don’t have a fight lined up right now, so I’m just keeping my face strong, praying and hoping everything will work out. They said that I’m the alternate for this tournament so I guess I can just cross my fingers and hope somebody gets injured.”

The veteran fighter, who turns 38 in April, admits he’s “disappointed in Bellator in the whole situation” but hoping someone gets injured — “but not too injured” — and he steps in as the alternate. In the meantime, Primus asks for a spot on the March 10 event in San Jose, Calif.

“I respect Bellator so much,” Primus said. “They’re so awesome. I like all the guys. I don’t really have too much of a relationship with Scott Coker, we’ve only talked a couple of times. I wish we had a better relationship. Maybe I’ll bring him some cookies or donuts after my next fight or and something, I don’t know. … Hopefully Bellator will give me a fight soon.”

Now with Outlaw failing the drug test Primus gets his wish and gets in earlier in the tournament than he was likely even expecting. With the way the brackets are, not only is Primus in the tournament all of a sudden but he is one win away from a title shot as well.

And if the tourny had to lose someone, losing Outlaw and getting Primus does not really hurt this tourny at all. Its not like Nurmagomedov or McKee were lost.


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I’m still picking Aj McKee to win it all.

Lots of Changes to the card

Sidney Outlaw flunks drug test, Brent Primus enters lightweight grand prix at Bellator Paris - MMA Fighting .

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My first round picks are Nurmagomedov, Barnaoui and then on the other side, Musayev and McKee. I know Shabliy is a big darkhorse here.

Wonder what the holdup on announcing the McKee fight date is.

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I just looked and Shabliy was actually a -150 favorite there vs Musaev. I just assumed he would be the slight dog in that one. Either way, he advanced. On the other side of the bracket, Usman won as most expected. Became only the 4th fighter ever in 18 years to finish Bendo.

Jesus, Usman closed at most books a 16-1 favorite over Bendo.

Nobody has ever been anything close to that vs Benson.

Tough go for BENDO! Glad he retired

He is a dark horse

He arguably beat Islam. I think he won the fight. He had Islam tied up on the ground and Islam broke a tooth, so he got a break to fix it and restart.

Then the referee takes a point from Barnaoui for grabbing the ropes the next round

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Having two months between these fights really blows