Tournaments. They can be one of the biggest thrills in sports.

Whether a person plays in it, watches it live from the tournament’s host venue, catches it on television, reads about it in the sports pages or hears about it on the radio, they are likely to find the tournament style to be the most exciting and the most logical style for a sports league to determine who stands tall as the best of the best. Why would they do this? Chalk it up to the fact that tournaments prove themselves as anybody’s game. Any man or any squad can prevail on any given night.

Those that remember the old-school UFC days and Pride Fighting Championships can recall the heart and will shown by competitors who would battle through multiple fights in one night, as part of tournament-style competitions, to prove themselves among the best in the world. These tournaments helped promotions prosper. The format also served to truly test the mettle of the competitors involved. But in today’s MMA, promotions no longer use this format.

Does anything justify why these don’t happen anymore? Actually, there are some contributing factors. For one thing, the one-night tournament format, just like any other MMA bout, leaves room for one of the best guys in the field to potentially withdraw due to injury, thus allowing for a man to take the opportunity to win the tournament after having not been in the thing from the start.

The UFC abandoned the format for a number of reasons back in the day. It phased out the tournaments in favor of early superfights and singles matches, which led to straight-up matchmaking, which would ultimately serve a similar purpose to the tournament format, only without the tournament structure. Second, the promotion started drawing criticism and attracting protests prior to UFC 8 in Puerto Rico, and as a means to begin a reformation into a sanctioned sport, the promotion made conscious efforts to change its product. This included the phasing out of the tournament as part of the UFC’s decision to look out for its fighters’ safety.

However, maybe the format should make a comeback. Obviously, it would be a modified form of old-school UFC format. Those supportive of four-man (or woman) one-night tourneys where the semifinals are of shorter duration may be on to something. The shorter fights are typically allowed by the commission overseeing these events. With the short duration of the semifinals, whatever risk came with entering the tourney to begin with would be worth the reward of winning the entire thing.

For an example, let’s look at the state of Oklahoma. In September 2010, the First Council Casino in Newark, Okla., hosted a lightweight grand prix created by the now-defunct Shine Fights promotion. Were there risks involved with this sort of event? Absolutely, and even more so when the event, originally planned to go down in Virginia, had to relocate to Oklahoma. So it really became a question of whether the event would happen at all. Luckily, though, it did, and with the likes of Drew Fickett, Dennis Bermudez and Carlo Prater involved, fans got a very unique night of fights.

Battlegrounds MMA plans to do the same thing on Friday, June 27, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, where it will host its “One Night Elimination” event. The event features the likes of Cody McKenzie, Josh Bryant, Luigi Fioravanti, Dennis Hallman and others, with tournament bouts to be determined by a lottery draw after the weigh-ins for the event.

Moving forward, this concept also could possibly help an organization like Bellator strengthen its cards with pay-per-view ventures coming in the future. After all, if we’re being honest, we all know we’ve heard the criticisms that surface from time to time in regards to the way that Bellator’s title pictures have played out, due in part to the recent championship-rematch clause. Besides, what could be a more intriguing pay-per-view concept than for Bellator to host a one-night tournament?

Why dedicate entire nights to this concept, when crowds would not be completely familiar with them? First off, the promotion knows that if it really wants to adopt the pay-per-view model, it cannot rely on getting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Tito Ortiz on every single pay-per-view card.

The Bellator promotion must build up toward the future and feature its top guys as prominently as possible. A one-night tournament helps the promotion to do that. Fans who were not familiar with a fighter before they partook in the one-night tourney would find every incentive in watching them after that tourney ended, because any man willing to fight two to three times in one night just for a chance to potentially win a title will draw fans, even if only for the alluring question of whether or not that man could beat the champion.

There’s no telling if Bellator MMA has even considered this concept, but they should. Perhaps Bellator shouldn’t be the only promotion doing so, either.

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.