Bellator season 9 review: What worked, what didn't and what to do next
It was perhaps the most pivotal and controversial season in Bellator's history. From an ill-fated moved to pay-per-view to a run-in with their former (and now current) champion to record ratings and one of the year's best fights, Bellator had quite a ride in season 9.
I've watched all the events. I even attended one of them. We've read all the interviews, seen all the sights, heard all the talk. In review of season 9, here's what worked, what didn't and an assessment of what's next...
Bjorn Rebney considering Daniel Straus-Pat Curran 3 for next Bellator 145 title fight
BETHLEHEM, PA. – Daniel Straus avenged one loss earlier this month, and he’s on track for a shot at avenging another one, as well.
But that’s only if Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney doesn’t flip the script on things just a little bit.
Straus (22-4 MMA, 8-1 BMMA) won the Bellator featherweight title at Bellator 106, outpointing Pat Curran (19-5 MMA, 9-2 BMMA), the man who handed him a loss in April 2009. As champion, he’s scheduled to face Patricio Freire (21-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) next after “Pitbull” won the Season 9 featherweight tournament a week ago.
Bellator 109 weigh-in results: Champ Shlemenko, challenger Marshall cleared for title fight
Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (184.7) and hard-hitting challenger Doug Marshall (184.3) made their championship fight official at today’s Bellator 109 weigh-ins.
MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET)
Champ Alexander Shlemenko (184.7) vs. Doug Marshall (184.3) – for middleweight title
Will Brooks (156.1)+ vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy (155.4) – Season 9 lightweight tourney final
Rick Hawn (170.5) vs. Ron Keslar (170.7) – Season 9 welterweight tournament final
Patrick Cenoble (155.5) vs. Terry Etim (155.5)
PRELIMINARY CARD (6:30 p.m. ET)
Keith Bell (256.5) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (252.5)
Saul Almeida (145.9) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (152.3)*
Ahsan Abdulla (153) vs. Mike Bannon (155)
Bubba Jenkins (155.6) vs. Ian Rammel (155.8)
Brett Glass (155.7) vs. Brent Primus (155.5)
Lester Caslow (145.3) vs. Jay Haas (145.2)
+ – Has been given two hours to lose the additional one-tenth of a pound
* – Has been given two hours to lose the remaining 6.3 pounds
Bellator sends Matt Riddle packing
A welterweight feature fight between Matt Riddle and Nathan Coy has been removed from Friday’s Bellator 109 season-ending fight card. Not only is the fight off, so is Riddle’s Bellator tenure, which never actually began.
Ben Askren becomes unrestricted free agent after Bellator grants 'Funky' unconditional release
Undefeated Welterweight Is Now Unrestricted Free Agent
Former Bellator Welterweight Champion and undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Ben Askren is a free man.
The Viacom-owned promotion has said goodbye to the "Funky" wrestler after failing to come to terms on a new deal, which essentially clears the path for Askren to sign with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), no strings attached.
From Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney:
"I've said it many times, Ben's a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension. I had a number of discussions with Ben and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions. We've relinquished any right to match here and Ben can sign with whoever he chooses to sign with. Ben's been at Bellator since the start of his career, I respect him and what he's accomplished and wish him the best wherever he goes."
Bellator heavyweight and middleweight November title bouts swap dates
A reshuffling of Bellator's November schedule has led Alexander Volkov and Alexander Shlemenko to swap dates for their upcoming title defenses.
Heavyweight champion Volkov (19-3), who was initially slated to lock horns with undefeated challenger Vitaly Minakov (12-0) in the headlining bout of Bellator 109, will now look to defend his belt in the co-main event of Bellator 108, underneath Rampage Jackson's promotional debut opposite Joey Beltran.
Likewise, Shlemenko's upcoming middleweight title defense against Doug Marshall (18-6) has been moved from the co-main event of Bellator 108 to the main event of Bellator 109.