Bellator 256: Everything you need to know about the light-heavyweight grand prix

Laying everything out ahead of the next Bellator tournament, the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, which kicks off at Bellator 256

We’re just mere days away from Bellator MMA kicking off the fourth Grand Prix tournament since the promotion began the yearly division tournaments in 2018. This time around, it’s the light heavyweight division in the spotlight, featuring a number of noted names and stars, a couple of whom were just signed to the promotion.

It all begins at Bellator 256 on April 9, when former Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (who’s still currently the Bellator heavyweight champion) takes on former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. This will mark Bader’s first fight since losing the Bellator 205-pound title to Vadim Nemkov in August.

Nemkov will defend the championship in his opening round bout the next week on April 16 at Bellator 257, taking on Phil Davis. Davis has won three straight and five of six, most recently defeating Machida in a decision at the end of last year.

Information on how the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix is set up

Bellator 257 will also feature another opening round bout in the co-main event, as Corey Anderson, who TKO’d Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 251 in November in his promotional debut, will take on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, who will be making his Bellator debut. Yagshimuradov, a former ACA light heavyweight champion, will enter on an eight-fight win streak.

The opening round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will close out in a big way at Bellator 258 on May 7, when Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Yoel Romero both make their Bellator debuts in an opening-round bout. This will mark Johnson’s first MMA fight since retiring from the UFC after a title loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210 in April 2017. Meanwhile, this will be Romero’s first fight since falling short in a UFC middleweight title fight with Israel Adesanya at UFC 248.

There are no dates yet for the semifinals and final rounds. If the bracket is accurate, the Bader-Machida winner will meet the Anderson-Yagshimuradov winner in one semifinal. Meanwhile, the other semifinal will feature the Nemkov-Davis winner defending the Bellator title against the winner of Johnson-Romero.

Bellator 256 takes place on Friday, April 9, 2021, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.