Bellator will premiere on Spike TV on Jan. 17 in a 10 p.m. ET time slot, kicking off a 12-event eighth season for the promotion.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Spike President Kevin Kay on Tuesday announced the news on a conference call with media members.
The date for the season's first show is a change from a previously reported one of Jan. 10, which Bellator had requested with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Instead, the season premiere, Bellator 85, takes place a week later in Irvine, Calif., at Bren Events Center on the UC-Irvine campus.
Kay said the 10 p.m. ET start time for Bellator events throughout the season allows the promotion to have Impact Wrestling as lead-in programming from 8-10 p.m. ET each week.
"We have four to four and a half hours of great combat sports programming that we're extraordinarily excited about," Kay said.
The opening bout for Bellator 85 will be a featherweight title fight between champion Pat Curran and top contender Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. The card will close with a lightweight title fight between champ Michael Chandler and tournament winner Rick Hawn.
Rebney said the card also will feature Seth Petruzelli and Mike Guymon, plus the Bellator debut of Renato "Babalu" Sobral in the light heavyweight tourney against Russian Mikhail Zayats.
The following week, Bellator 86 will take place at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., about 80 miles north of Dallas.
That card, Rebney said, will feature the welterweight title defense of Ben Askren against Karl Amoussou, the Bellator debut of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal and welterweight fights featuring Doug Lima and Ben Saunders as part of the Season 8 tournament. Lawal's fight will be part of the light heavyweight tournament.
"We've completely stacked the (first) show from top to bottom, and we're wickedly excited to kick off in our backyard," Rebney said. Bellator recently relocated its headquarters from Chicago to California.
Rebney said Bellator's eighth season will feature five tournaments going on simultaneously in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
The latest Bellator 85 card now includes:
Champ Michael Chandler vs. Rick Hawn - for lightweight title
Renato "Babalu" Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats - light heavyweight tournament opening round
Champ Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire - for featherweight title
Seth Petruzelli vs. TBA
Mike Guymon vs. TBA
Jason Lambert vs. TBA
Hector Ramirez vs. TBA
The latest Bellator 86 card now includes:
Champ Ben Askren vs. Karl Amousson - for welterweight title
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal vs. TBA - light heavyweight tournament opening round
Ben Saunders vs. TBA - welterweight tournament opening round
Douglas Lima vs. TBA - welterweight tournament opening round