Usually, the term “bracketology” is used for college basketball. It is a ritual that many sports fans undertake, diving into the NCAA college hoops tournament bracket each March in hopes of filling out their bracket with successful predictions for how everything will turn out. But now this term is one that can be applied to the world of MMA as well.

Sure, Bellator Fighting Championships has been holding tournaments since its first season back in 2009, but we never had announced brackets. When looking at first-round match-ups, it was unknown who would fight one another in the future rounds. Often the next match-ups would be announced at post-fight press conferences, which kept everyone out of the loop.

With Bellator moving to Spike TV, it’s no surprise that the promotion has made a natural progression in many ways. The logo has been tweaked a little bit, an announced potential championship rematch may occur, and the tournaments have officially been bracketed ahead of time.

For the first time, we know in advance that the only way Seth Petruzelli can take on Muhammed Lawal is in the finals, given that they appear on opposite ends of the bracket that was recently released by the promotion. It is now possible to, based on the match-ups, project an early tournament favorite through analysis of upcoming potential fights.

Continuing to use the light heavyweight tournament as an example, it is clear to see that the promotion is using some form of a seeding format. Most MMA fans recognize Emmanuel Newton, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Petruzelli and Lawal. These four fighters fall under the category of expected winners, which is why they have been spread out across field of eight. These fighters will likely battle one another, unless a Cinderella decides to sneak into the ball with an upset.

Releasing brackets was a strong play by the promotion. Fans can now anticipate who they feel will fight in the finals before the tournament event starts. If someone like Jacob Noe emerges into the finals, the promotion will be able to play the underdog angle, claiming that he was a longshot to make it past both Petruzelli and Sobral. Bellator will be able to take a page from the NCAA college basketball bracketology playbook, setting up a fantasy league of sorts where fans can log on ahead of time and submit their brackets, with winners likely earning prizes. Other fantasy MMA sites could do the same.

At the end of the day, releasing these brackets is beneficial. The fighters will have a better road map to their future opponents and will be able to set up a training camp according to who they may be facing in the short season. Meanwhile, the fans will be able to look forward to future match-ups and not be left in the dark as to who will be taking on one another.

No longer is bracketology just for college basketball. MMA will now be able to have a March Madness of its own.

Photo: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.

  • Robby C.

    Good article. Let the MMAdness begin.