Canadian Rory (Red King) MacDonald will open defence of his 170-pound Bellator title against veteran Jon Fitch in the first round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix.
The knockout mixed martial arts tournament starts Sept. 29 with a battle of former title-holders as American-based Brazilian Douglas (The Phenom) Lima (29-7-0) faces Russian Andrey (Spartan) Koreshkov (21-2-0) at Bellator 206 at San Jose's SAP Center.
Paul (Semtex) Daley (40-16-2) meets fellow Brit Michael (Venom) Page (13-0-0), Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Neiman Gracie (8-0-0) fights former three-time NCAA wrestling champion (EZ) Ed Ruth (6-0-0) and MacDonald (20-4-0) takes on Fitch (31-7-1 with one no contest) to complete the first round in future bouts whose dates have yet to be announced.
The MacDonald-Fitch winner will take on the Gracie-Ruth victor in the semifinals.
A matchup between Lorenz (The Monsoon) Larkin (19-7-0 with one no contest) and Ukraine's Yaroslav (Dynamo) Amosov (20-0-0) will produce a tournament alternate contest in case another fighter is unable to compete.
Bellator says, beginning with MacDonald versus Fitch, each time an athlete enters a tournament bout as champion, the title will be on the line with the Grand Prix winner becoming the undisputed Bellator welterweight champion.
All tournament bouts will be five rounds.
MacDonald won the title at Bellator 192 in January, winning a unanimous decision over Lima.
The 29-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., who trains out of Montreal, will look to add the middleweight title to his collection in September when he takes on Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) at Bellator 206.
MacDonald went 9-3-0 in the UFC, including a title loss to then-welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, prior to joining Bellator. He was won both fights in his new promotion.
The 40-year-old Fitch has won his last five fights and seven of his last eight. The former Purdue wrestler went 14-3-1 in the UFC, including a title challenge loss to Canadian Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 in 2008.
"Good news," Fitch said of the MacDonald matchup via social media
Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix
Douglas Lima (29-7-0) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (21-2-0), Bellator 206 at San Jose's SAP Center.
Paul Daley (40-16-2) vs. Michael Page (13-0-0)
Neiman Gracie (8-0-0) vs. Ed Ruth (6-0-0)
Rory MacDonald (20-4-0) vs. Jon Fitch (31-7-1, 1 no contest)
(Alternate Bout) Lorenz Larkin (19-7, 1 no contest) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (20-0-0)
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