Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

The Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix has taken a hit, or should we say two hits.

On Tuesday, Bellator champion Sergio Pettis would officially withdraw from the $1M tournament. He would cite an injury which needed surgery. Pettis revealed he would be out for 6-9 months, taking him out of not just his fight against Raufeon Stots, but the Grand Prix altogether.

Just a day after, James Gallagher would reveal to Sports Illustrated that he too was out of the tournament: “I’m gutted to be watching this tournament unfold from the sidelines. I will be ready to go later in the year and available to fill in as an alternate if anyone gets hurt.”

With two spots now open, there is a couple of bantamweights who want the golden opportunity. Bellator standout Danny Sabatello and top regional prospect John ‘Hollywood’ Sweeney are knocking on the door of the Grand Prix, waiting to be let in.

Sabatello has been wanting in on the Grand Prix ever since it was first announced. Let’s just say he was a bit disappointed when he didn’t get the original call.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Sabatello told MMA Island back in December. “I thought I was gonna be in it. I know I’m not ranked but I’d smash all of those f*cking guys. I for sure thought I deserved a spot in there. I was pretty pissed when… they announced the guys, because they all suck.

“Eventually, I’m going to get that belt. F*ck the money, I don’t really care about that million dollars. Money’s sweet and of course I’d rather have $1M than not have a $1M. But, at the end of the day, I want that belt and just to get a chance at the belt, kinda pisses me off.”

Well, we got some good news, Danny. They have two spots that need filling in. Maybe this is the right job for ‘The Italian Gangster’.

“I knew James Gallagher would pull out of the tournament cuz he’s a scared little pussy,” Sabatello said to MMA Island on Wednesday. “With both of them out, I’m gonna find a way to get into the tournament and win the whole f*ckin’ thing.”

If Sabatello does manage to get his long-awaited opportunity, there will still be another fighter needed to complete the bracket. That’s where a wildcard pick comes in.

First off for John Sweeney, he has some business to take care of. ‘Hollywood’ looks to make a big showing at XMMA 4, when he takes on UFC veteran Cole Smith. A win in New Orleans would make it four in a row for Sweeney. Of course, Sweeney isn’t just looking for a fourth win, he wants a shot at being a millionaire.

“Tune in to XMMA [on] April 2 and you will see why you should enter me in the tournament!” Sweeney said on his Instagram story.

Bellator does tend to pick either homegrown talent or relatively big names for their Grand Prix tournaments. However, the promotion has made some interesting choices over the years, signing people from different promotions to compete in their tournaments. Bellator even added relatively unknown Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov from ACA to their last grand prix.

By Chris De Santiago

Chris De Santiago is a 20-year-old journalist out of Texas. He is the founder of MMA Island and also works for