Bellator Cuts Lightweight Champ Will Brooks, Strips Heavyweight Champion Vitaly Minakov

May 14, 2016

Bellator MMA on Saturday released disgruntled lightweight champion Will Brooks from his contract and stripped the heavyweight belt from Vitaly Minakov.

Though he’s one of the top lightweight fighters in the world, losing just one of his 18 career bouts, and held the lightweight belt, Brooks and Bellator haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Brooks’ contract was coming to an end in July, and he reportedly wasn’t interested in renewing with Bellator.

Bellator president Scott Coker confirmed the news to following an initial report by

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“Brooks’ contract was coming to an end, and we decided not to renew it,” said Coker.

Will Brooks - Bellator - 478x270Instead of tying him up and dragging things out through a matching period, which could have stretched into the winter months, Bellator instead opted to release Brooks. He is now a free agent, able to solicit offers from any promotion.

Minakov, however, remains under contract with Bellator, although he no longer holds the belt.

The Russian fighter is easily one of the top heavyweights in the world, but hasn’t set foot in Bellator’s cage since April of 2014, when he defeated UFC veteran Cheick Kongo. It’s not that he’s been inactive, he just hasn’t fought for Bellator, instead fighting three times since then for the Russian promotion Fight Nights.

Minakov is currently 17-0, but Bellator was no longer willing to allow him to hold its heavyweight title hostage.

It’s unclear how soon the vacancies will be filled, but Bellator is likely to move swiftly in crowning new lightweight and heavyweight champions.

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