Esther Lin/Bellator MMA

As Bellator prepares to start their 2021 slate of events on new broadcast partner Showtime, the promotion is also introducing a new divisional ranking system. The system, which will launch some time ahead of Bellator 255 on April 2, will rank fighters across seven men’s and two women’s weight classes. In addition, there will be men’s and women’s top 10 pound-for-pound lists.

The rankings will be compiled based on the votes of “reputable members of the MMA media.” Ballots will be submitted following the conclusion of every Bellator event. Tabulation of all submitted ballots will be handled by Combat Registry.

Top 10 rankings, with a champion slot sitting atop, will exist for heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight, women’s featherweight and women’s flyweight.

Bellator will exclusively determine eligible fighters as well as what weight classes they are eligible in based on the following criteria:

  • A fighter may not be ranked until they have completed one fight in the Bellator cage on a current contract. Fighters who previously fought in the promotion but left to fight elsewhere before eventually returning will not be automatically ranked, requiring one fight on their current term to become eligible.
  • After a period of 15 months of inactivity, fighters will be removed from the rankings.
  • Fighters may be ranked in two weight classes once they have competed in both divisions. The inactivity rule applies, with a period of 15 months of inactivity in a division resulting in the removal of eligibility for that weight class.
  • A fighter participating in a Grand Prix tournament will not be considered inactive in other divisions in which they are ranked.
  • A fighter serving a suspension by a regulating body for non-medical reasons for a period of greater than six months will result in removal from ranking eligibility.

Bellator’s 2021 schedule kicks off with featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez battling for the belt and a trip to the finals in the Featherweight World Grand Prix in the main event of Bellator 255. Bellator 256 and 257 will feature the start of the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix with all four first round bouts spread across the two events.