Bellator to stage 16-fighter featherweight tournament next fall

Bellator MMA, which recently completed a Heavyweight Grand Prix and now is in the midst of a welterweight tournament, will launch a 16-fighter featherweight tournament in the fall, promotion president Scott Coker told ESPN on Monday.

"When you think about all of the studs we have in that weight division, it just has to be done," Coker said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show.

Bellator's 145-pound roster includes champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (28-4), winner of three straight fights, as well as ex-champ Daniel Straus (25-8), Pat Curran (23-7), Derek Campos (19-8), A.J. McKee (13-0), Emmanuel Sanchez (17-4) and Henry Corrales (17-3).

Coker said he will invite Freire to take part in the tournament, "and I hope he says yes."

The first round of the tournament will play out in eight fights held in one night or at least one weekend, Coker said. He expects the full tournament to last a year.