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Bellator heavyweight grand prix opening-round matchups set; 'Rampage'-Sonnen first up Jan. 20

The pairings are set for the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018.

The four opening-round matchups for the eight-man tournament to crown a new heavyweight champion were announced tonight on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

They are as follows:

The Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) vs. Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) winner will face the winner of Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) vs. Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in one semifinal.

In the other semifinal, the winner of Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) vs. Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will face the Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) vs. Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) winner.

“Rampage”-Sonnen will kick things off at Bellator 192, which takes place Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Mitrione-Nelson is slated for a Bellator event scheduled for Feb. 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Fedor-Mir and Bader-King Mo are scheduled for April and May events, respectively.

Bellator’s heavyweight championship has been vacant since May 2016, when the promotion stripped then-champ Vitaly Minakov of the belt for failing to defend the title.

For more on Bellator 192 and Bellator’s upcoming schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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