Bellator’s Scott Cleve Says it’s “Exciting” Times With the Promotion, Weighs-in on Tournament Format
By Kelsey Mowatt
Bellator’s latest season will kick off just around the corner on September 5th, and it will do so at a time when the promotion is expected to undergo considerable changes.
The reason being, of course, that new president, Scott Coker, has relayed that Bellator will no longer be dominated by the tournament format. It’s a move that critics have been calling on for sometime, and while the competitions unquestionably helped Bellator develop several big names, many seem to be embracing Coker’s vision.
“I think it’s exciting,” Bellator featherweight Scott Cleve said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing Coker’s pledge to promote more ‘super fights.’ “I don’t think they need to ditch the tournament format altogether. I think it would be an intriguing thing to bring back and showcase one weight class per season. So that people still have an opportunity to get into a tournament and earn their title shot that way, so that Bellator still has the tournament aspect.”
While fighters like Douglas Lima, Will Brooks, and Eduardo Dantas, among many others, may have become stars through more traditional forms of matchmaking, they did so in Bellator through tournament successes. Since it became clear that Bellator plans to move away from the tourney format, Cleve is just one of several fighters, who has relayed they hope the promotion will still holds them periodically.
“But you don’t need to do it every weight class, every season,” Cleve furthered, who is set to fight Matt Bessette at Bellator 123 on September 5th. “Where now all of a sudden, all of these champions are getting bombarded and title shots are getting backed up. That kind of thing.”
“At 145, Patricio (Freire) has this shot, September 5th, (Daniel) Weichel has a shot, Frodo (Khasbulaev) has a title shot coming up, and they start stacking up,” noted Cleve. “When you only have a season it puts these guys on the shelf when you win the tournament for so long. I think if you just limited it to one tournament, so that you could showcase it, it would bring more intriguing aspects to the tournament. You could also make it bigger; you could make it a 16 man tournament, instead of eight or four.”
Coker has also said that Bellator’s ‘seasons’ will be a thing of the past moving forward. Instead, the promotion will hold events year round, just not every week, like it has been during the spring and winter. This idea has also been welcomed by many observers, who believe Bellator would be in much better position to stack a monthly card with notable fights.
It remains to be seen, however, if reducing Bellator’s schedule will leave some fighters on the sidelines for too long.
“I think the tournaments, they always had the tournaments locked in for so long, they always had the shows basically filled for an entire season,” said Cleve, when asked if he’s concerned a reduced schedule would result in fewer fights. “So, they’d have 10 shows, they’re all filled, there’s not spots, you have to wait until next season, or if someone drops out…”
“I think with these ‘super’ match-ups, or whatever, it’s going to leave room for more openings on the cards in the future, so I think guys can fight more often,” Cleve furthered. “When they start seeing guys that are increasing in popularity, and the TV ratings, they’ll start putting them on more shows. Where as with Bellator before, if a guy started getting more popular, they’d dump him in a tournament and hopefully he would win.”
Stay tuned to Full Contact Fighter for a follow up article with Cleve, and his thoughts on his upcoming bout with Bessette.