Oklahoma's Battlegrounds MMA Revives Eight-Man, One-Night Tournaments

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Oklahoma's Battlegrounds MMA Revives Eight-Man, One-Night Tournaments
Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images

Oklahoma mixed martial arts promotion Battlegrounds MMA is poised to bring back a relic of the past: Eight-man elimination tournaments held over the course of a single day.

Officials with the promotion informed Bleacher Report of the news on Thursday afternoon.

Olympic gold medalist Kenny Monday is the president of the promotion, while former Strikeforce matchmaker Rich Chou will serve as matchmaker for the tournaments.

Battlegrounds received permission to run the tournaments—dubbed Battlegrounds: One Night Elimination (O.N.E.)—from the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission after Bryan O'Rourke, managing partner for Battlegrounds, petitioned the commission for changes to the rules.

You can see the full text of that petition here. The commission unanimously passed the petition on Wednesday.

They'll be using a slightly modified version of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Elbows will be illegal in all fights except for the final. The preliminary tournament fights will also feature three five-minute rounds, with the final going five rounds.

The event will be held June 27 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. 

The promotion is currently in talks with several potential partners regarding broadcast rights. 

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The idea for bringing back the tournament format began as a germ of an idea between O'Rourke and Chou.

"We've all been a part of one-night and Grand Prix elimination tournaments, and Kenny has competed countless times in a tournament format, so we recognized the energy this format brings," O'Rourke told Bleacher Report.

There was just one problem: fighter safety. One-night tournaments have become largely verboten in mixed martial arts due to safety issues. But O'Rourke said they had fighter safety in mind from the beginning.

"We were confident we could get the format approved if we could show the safety levels went above and beyond current standards, and we've set the bar for MMA globally," he said. "The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission is progressive, and fighter safety is their credo, so receiving their unanimous approval was proof that our plan provides the greatest fighter safety standards in the world."

The winner of the Battlegrounds O.N.E. tournament will receive a $50,000 prize. It is sure to garner interest from both fighters and fans who miss the old PRIDE Grand Prix events. O'Rourke hopes the O.N.E tournament will fill that need rather than serve as competition for the UFC.

"There is a major gap between the UFC, Bellator and WSOF," he said. "We're looking toward a grass-roots base of wrestling and MMA fans supporting a revitalization of the one-night, eight-fighter elimination tournament to fill that empty space."

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