According to a July 16 report from Cageside Seats, Bellator is stacking its upcoming Mohegan Sun card with current and former TNA wrestling superstars, including Bobby Lashley and Mo Lawal. Lashley, 38, will be making his promotional debut against Josh Burns, while Lawal battles New Jersey standout Tom DeBlass. Bellator 123, which goes down Sept. 5 at Mohegan Sun, is competing head-to-head with a UFC card that will be held that night just 10 miles down the road at Foxwoods Resort.
It appears Bellator's strategy is to reel in the pro wrestling fan base by putting some familiar TNA names on the card. Will it work? Time will tell how the situation plays out, but it makes perfect sense. TNA has a built-in fan base, and pro wrestling supporters will likely tune in to see Lawal and Lashley fight inside the ring instead of a ring. Pro wrestling fans may be more inclined to watch Bellator than UFC on this particular night at least.
Elsewhere on the Bellator 123 card, Pat Curran takes on Patricio Freire for the featherweight title. Curran vs. Freire is a rematch from Bellator 85. That fight ended up getting win by Curran, but it was a great bout that certainly is worthy of the rematch. In heavyweight action at Bellator 123, Lavar Johnson fights Cheick Kongo.
Bellator 123 will be one of the first Bellator cards under a new regime of higher-ups. Former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has been replaced by former Strikeforce head honcho Scott Coker, and another major difference is that the upcoming season will not feature any tournaments. The change is a welcome sigh of relief for fight fans who simply want to see great matchups.
Fight fans were growing weary of Bellator's tournament format over the past couple years, as it often prevented must-see fights from happening. Under the new format, all fights will be feature fights. Coker says he's not necessarily opposed to tournaments, but only when they make sense.
Even though the UFC will be holding a show on the same night and in the same state, Bellator 123 should do big ratings on Spike TV. Lashley and Lawal are some of the biggest names on Bellator's current roster, so this card could have easily been a pay-per-view event. Also, Curran and Freire are absolute beasts who never fail to put on entertaining shows. Adding Kongo and Johnson to the mix was also a power move, being that both are household names who have one-punch knockout power.