Since winning his title two-and-a-half years ago, Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard has defended his belt just once.
The same goes for lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
But that could soon change. As Bellator CEO and chairman Bjorn Rebeny told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), the addition of more tournaments, the elimination of non-title fights, and continued between-seasons events all could result in the champs defending their titles more often.
Bellator, of course, has carved out a niche in the MMA industry with its eight-man (and eight-woman) tournaments. The only way to win a Bellator belt or to get an opportunity to challenge for one is to win a tourney – which requires fighting three times in as little as 10 weeks.
Recent tourney winner Jay Hieron recently earned the right to fight welterweight champion Ben Askren, who squeaked by with a split-decision victory at Bellator 56. It was a good, competitive fight with plenty of pre-event buzz, and many feel a rematch is in order. But Rebney said his policy isn't going to change.
"Absolutely not," Rebney said. "It was a great fight ... but Jay would have to win another tournament to get another shot."
Thankfully for Askren, he'll have his next challenge soon enough; a season-five welterweight tourney wraps this weekend with Bellator 57's finale between Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima. But that hasn't been the case in other weight classes. Bellator currently boasts eight champions, but despite five seasons and 56 shows, no champion has had the opportunity to defend his title more than once.
Part of the reason is the infrequency of tournaments. Currently, Bellator hosts four tournaments per 12-week season (a tourney also was held during three monthly "Summer Series" events). So without top contenders continually churned out, Bellator has booked a number of "super fights" – non-title bouts pitting a champion vs. what's usually an underdog opponent. For a couple years, Bellator avoided any disasters, but this past month against veteran Travis Wiuff, light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu earned the dubious honor of becoming the first champ to lose a super fight...Full Story