Bellator MMA World Grand Prix will begin with Sonnen-Jackson bout

Bellator MMA has released its official bracket for next year's eight-man heavyweight tournament, which will culminate in a five-round championship bout for the promotion's vacant title.

The tournament, dubbed Bellator MMA World Grand Prix, kicks off at Bellator 192 on Jan. 20 in Los Angeles, with a matchup between Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (37-12).

It will continue on Feb. 16 in Uncasville, Connecticut, when Roy Nelson (23-14) meets Matt Mitrione (12-5) on the opposite side of the bracket.

Former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Fedor Emelianenko (36-5) and former UFC champion Frank Mir (18-11) will meet sometime in April, at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The winner of that matchup will take on the winner of the bout between Jackson and Sonnen, who also is an ESPN analyst.

The opening round will wrap up in May, with current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (24-5) taking on Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (21-6) inside the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The winner will advance to the semifinals against Mitrione or Nelson.

Bellator has not named any official tournament alternates, but president Scott Coker told ESPN the company has received a lot of requests from hopeful fill-ins.

"We've had a lot of interest from fighters all over the world who want to be a part of the Grand Prix," Coker said. "Everybody from Rory MacDonald to Linton Vassell.

"But I think when it comes down to it, the potential alternates that we'd seriously look at will be Bobby Lashley, Cheick Kongo, Javy Ayala, Justin Wren, Sergei Kharitonov and Shane Carwin. Carwin reached out to us, so we're talking to him now to see if we can make something happen."

In 2011, Coker spearheaded a similar heavyweight grand prix as the CEO of Strikeforce. Current UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier won the tournament as an alternate, upsetting Josh Barnett in the finals in May 2012.