There has been much talk about Bellator’s debut on its new home at Spike TV tonight, but there actually hasn’t been very much talk about the fights that will take place at Bellator 85. It’s the beginning of the organization’s eighth season.

Two of the organization’s champions in its “money divisions” will be in action, as both featherweight champion Pat Curran and lightweight champion Michael Chandler will defend against tournament winners Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Rick Hawn, respectively.

Below is a breakdown of the two title fights, as well as the three light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bouts that will be part of the card.

Seth Petruzelli (14-6, 1-0 Bellator) vs. Jacob Noe (8-1, 1-0 Bellator)

After a stint on The Ultimate Fighter and a cup of coffee in the UFC, Seth Petruzelli made his name by knocking out Kimbo Slice on network TV in 2008. He then got another shot in the UFC, where he lost a pair of bouts before getting the pink slip for a second time. Since then, however, he has earned two TKOs – over Dave Mewborn and Ricco Rodriguez in his Bellator debut. One of the bigger names in the light heavyweight tournament, Petruzelli hopes to have finally found a home in his MMA career. A bit of an unknown, Noe is a Tennessean who earned a TKO in his Bellator debut in August. With seven stoppage wins in eight bouts he figures to be dangerous, and could be a sneaky pick to go far in the tournament.

Pick: Seth Petruzelli via unanimous decision

Emanuel Newton (18-7, 1-1 Bellator) vs. Atanas Djambazov (17-2)

The American Newton gets his second crack at a Bellator tournament after losing to eventual champ Attila Vegh in the Summer Series 2012 Tournament, as he’ll welcome another European to the organization in Bulgarian Atanas Djambazov. Aside from having a name that is tough to pronounced, Djambazov has a nasty finishing streak, which has featured stoppages in all 17 of his victories. He makes his Bellator debut on the strength of three straight TKO victories, and has competed mostly for the MAXFIGHT organization. Newton is a decent enough fighter, but I’m betting that the Bulgarian will put his name on the map in the U.S. with yet another stoppage victory to make the semifinals.

Pick: Atanas Djambazov via TKO in round 1

Champ Pat Curran (17-4, 7-1 Bellator) vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (17-1, 5-1 Bellator) – FW title

Neither one of these guys has lost in Bellator outside of a title fight, and that isn’t going to change here. This fight was supposed to happen last year, but it’s better late than never as the organization’s top two 145-pounders will square off in the first Bellator fight on Spike TV. Curran, who also won a Bellator tournament at lightweight, will likely have the size advantage here, but size probably won’t matter against the well-rounded Brazilian.

Neither guy is likely to get finished, and the style matchup is great because both guys will bring it and can keep up a high pace for the entire five rounds. Bellator is certainly hoping that this is their Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar moment, and I’m betting that this will at least be a very entertaining back-and-forth attraction.

Pick: Pat Curran via unanimous decision

Renato “Babalu” Sobral (37-9) vs. Mikhail Zayats (19-6)

It wasn’t too long ago that Bellator said that the former UFC title challenger Sobral wasn’t even on its radar, but things change when you have a light heavyweight division with a serious lack of depth and need names to put in prime slots on Spike TV. Zayats certainly fits the bill of the type of fighters that have filled Bellator cards in recent seasons. The Russian is a former M-1 title challenger and boasts a solid record fighting mostly outside of the United States. He’ll receive a big test in his Bellator debut, however, as he takes on one of the early favorites to win the whole tournament.

With both fighters well-versed in submissions, this fight could take place on the feet. In that case, it could be a toss up that may even swing a bit in the Russian’s favor. Sobral’s experience on the big stage will likely be the deciding factor, however, and I don’t see any way that he isn’t at least in the quarterfinals of Bellator’s 205-pound tournament.

Pick: Renato Sobral via submission in round 2

Champ Michael Chandler (10-0, 7-0 Bellator) vs. Rick Hawn (14-1, 6-1 Bellator) – LW title

Not to be outdone by the featherweights, the lightweight title bout will headline Bellator 85, as Michael Chandler puts his unbeaten record on the line against the Season 6 Lightweight Tournament champion Rick Hawn. Chandler is a former top-level NCAA wrestler, as he starred at Missouri before moving on to MMA. His fight against Eddie Alvarez is easily one of the best in Bellator history, and it vaulted him into stardom as one of the organization’s elite fighters. Hawn is now pushover, however. After finishing as the runner-up in the Season 4 Welterweight Tournament, he dropped to lightweight and earned his title shot. An Olympic judoka, Hawn possesses an unorthodox grappling style that has stymied many opponents in the past.

Despite both fighters’ extended background in grappling, where each is perhaps the most dangerous is on the feet. Chandler shocked Alvarez by rocking him early and taking control of the fight, and Hawn’s power has been on display in multiple fights, most notably his highlight reel knockout over Lloyd Woodard at Bellator 66. Chandler is great, but I think we will see a new champion at the end of the night.

Pick: Rick Hawn via TKO in round 3

By David McKinney (@MMAMcKinney)

ProFightingFans.com Editor

Eddie Alvarez is having the biggest fight of his career and he can’t even throw a punch at his opponent. I was in attendance for Eddie’s last fight, which was at Bellator 76 in Windsor, Ontario. That was back in October and what has happened over the last three-plus months have been like a roller coaster ride.

At the post-fight press conference of Bellator 76 it seemed as though the process of re-signing Alvarez would be difficult and would probably end up with Eddie in the UFC. Like Hector Lombard before him, Eddie would no doubt get an offer that he couldn’t refuse. The offer to Eddie from the UFC was one that worked for him but this is where the problem begins.

A tactic that has been used in team sports for years known as the restricted free agent, is the type of contract Bellator has with Alvarez. A contract like that gives Bellator a chance to match any offer from another organization which in this instance is the UFC. Details of the contract are out there to see but in Bellator and Bjorn Rebney’s mind, they matched the deal. To Alvarez and his representatives they have not, which has led to lawsuits from both parties.

In looking over the details reported by Sports Illustrated, both sides have their issues and both believe they are in the right. I am not going to say whose arguments is better – that is for the courts to decide – but I will say that neither side wanted this to happen.

This is by far the worst case scenario for all parties involved, having to settle this in court. For Bellator, they lose their top star for now and possibly forever all while getting major backlash from MMA fans claiming to boycott the promotion’s fights on Spike TV. For Alvarez, he could potentially sit on the shelf for a year sorting this mess out wasting away what is the prime of his career. Even if he goes to the UFC, he can’t turn back time.

If he goes back to Bellator, despite all assurances from Alvarez himself that he would fight for the organization again, I can’t imagine his fights being as entertaining and that his relationship with Bellator to be a positive one. The UFC is the only party mixed up in this that will be okay. First off, they don’t have to be spend any money or time being in court and second, they already have 99% of the best fighters in the world so not getting the services of Eddie Alvarez won’t be that damaging.

I am hopeful that a deal will be reached in the near future future but that is unlikely. Nobody will come out of this thing looking good. This fight is going to a judge’s decision which is never what you want to do. Blame or be mad at whoever you want but the fact is, Eddie Alvarez won’t be fighting anytime soon.

By Jim Gramm (@jimgramm)

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

(Press Release) Newport Beach, CA. – The tournament field is set as Bellator MMA has announced today the final tournament pairings in the Season 8 Lightweight Bracket. Emanating from Michigan’s Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort on January 31st, submission ace Ricardo Tirloni will battle the undefeated Will Brooks in the quarterfinals of the Bellator MMA Lightweight Tournament live on Spike.

Tickets for the event are on sale now and are available at StarTickets.comBellator.com and The Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Box Office. Tickets are priced from $20-$65. The event will broadcast LIVE starting at 10 p.m. EST on Spike, as well as in Spanish language on mun2. The preliminary card will be streamed LIVE and FREE on Spike.com starting at 8 p.m. EST.

Brooks joins Bellator fresh of a brutal knockout of longtime MMA veteran Satoru Kitaoka, who holds notable victories over Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, and Takanori Gomi. Currently splitting time between his Chicago home and American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Brooks has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career, and is counting the days until January 31st.

“I’m just really excited about this opportunity, the whole idea of a tournament really gets me going, and I just love it, and it’s why I wanted to come to Bellator,” Brooks said. “This is what it’s all about, and I’m ready to go out and get it. Fighting on Spike is dream, this organization is on the rise, and I can’t wait to be a part of it. When I have millions of people watching, that’s when I step up my game, and it’s exactly what you will see on January 31st.”

For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ricardo Tirloni, the chance to get back into another tournament is all the 29 year old could ask for after suffering a close split-decision loss at the hands of Dave Jansen.  Training under the tutelage under Luta Livre black belt Marcelo Brigadeiro, Tirloni is primed for another long tournament run.

With Tirloni vs. Brooks set, the field is now complete as Lloyd Woodard will battle David Rickels, while Thiago Michel will take on Tiger Sarnavskiy, and Patricky Pitbull battles Guillaume DeLorenzi.

“With the latest additions of Will Brooks and Ricardo Tirloni, this Lightweight Tournament is just a stacked collection of true finishers, and I expect another huge night inside Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.”

For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bellator.

lw

Newport Beach, CA. (January 9, 2013) – Bellator’s Welterweight Tournament is now complete as the eight man field will battle for a $100,000 Bellator Tournament prize, as well as a guaranteed title shot for the Bellator Welterweight World Title. The Bellator Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinals will begin January 24th from Oklahoma’s WinStar World Casino live on Spike TV and in Spanish language on mun2.  The night will also feature the  Bellator Welterweight World Title fight between reigning and undefeated Bellator World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren and French submission ace Karl “Psycho” Amoussou, as well as the debut of MMA superstar “King Mo” Lawal.

The Bellator 86 event will broadcast LIVE starting at 10 p.m. EST on Spike. The preliminary card will be streamed LIVE and FREE on Spike.com starting at 8 p.m. EST. Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by visiting the WinStar World Casino Box Office, with tickets starting at just $45 dollars.

Fan favorite and Bellator veteran Ben “Killa B” Saunders will return to the Bellator cage as he battles dynamic welterweight Koffi “The Lion King” Adzitso. Training under the tutelage of long time MMA veteran Jeremy Horn, Adzitso is eager to bring his finishing power to the Bellator cage. For Saunders, the always entertaining American Top Team product knows with the bright lights of Spike TV upon him, this is his time to shine.

“I’ve had my sights set on getting back into this tournament for a while,” Saunders said. “Everyone knows what type of energy I bring into every one of my fights, and to have the opportunity to do it on Spike is all I could ask for. I can’t wait to get started on January 24th.”

Former Bellator Tournament Finalist Brent Weedman is back and will look to make another long tournament run when he meets “The Whitemare” Marius Zaromskis in opening round action. With only five decision victories between the two long time veterans, neither fighter is expecting a 15 minute affair.

“Whenever I step into the cage, I’m looking for a finish, and nothing is going to change against Brent Weedman,” Zaromskis said.

RusFighters product Michail Tsarev will bring his impressive arsenal of submission skills to the Bellator cage when he battles top welterweight contender Douglas “The Phenom” Lima in front of a packed WinStar World Casino crowd. Having already navigated his way through a previous Bellator Welterweight Tournament, Lima is fully aware of what it takes to lock up his title shot, and has every intention of getting another shot at the Bellator Welterweight World Championship.

“I’ve been there once, and everything I do is the gym is to get back to that point,” Lima said. “This is what I train for every day, and my only goal to get that $100,000 check and a shot at the belt.”

The tournament rounds out with Bellator newcomer Jose “Zezao Trator” Gomes getting his first taste of The Toughest Tournament in Sports when he takes on the nearly undefeated Raul “Smash Mode” Amaya on January 24th.

“From top to bottom, our welterweight division has a collection of pure finishers that have put on some wildly entertaining fights,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “With a Welterweight World Title fight, the debut of King Mo and a stacked welterweight tournament, January 24th is going to be a huge night from WinStar World Casino.”

For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bellator

bellator ww

Newport Beach, CA. (January 7, 2013) – The title fights continue for Bellator MMA as the promotion announced today Bellator Light Heavyweight World Champion Christian M’Pumbu will put his World title on the line against knockout artist  Attila Vegh on February 28th from New Mexico’s Santa Ana Star Center.

 

Tickets for the event are on sale January 11th and range from $25-$90. Tickets can be purchased at ComcastTix.comBellator.com or by visiting The Santa Ana Star Center box office. The event will broadcast LIVE starting at 8 p.m. MST on Spike, as well as in Spanish language on mun2. The preliminary card will be streamed LIVE and FREE on Spike.com starting at 6 p.m. MST.

M’Pumbu defends the title that he won in the inaugural Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament by storming through the competition, delivering three highlight reel knockouts along the way to capturing the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Title. With previous victories over Richard Hale, Marcus Vanttinen and Stefan Struve, M’Pumbu is primed for another explosive finish on February 28th.

 

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity to defend my Bellator Light Heavyweight World Championship,” M’Pumbu said. “I look forward to getting back in the cage and putting on a show for all of the amazing Bellator fans throughout the world.  On February 28th, I will have my hand raised and remain Bellator Light Heavyweight World Champion.”

For Vegh, the Slovakian finisher is currently riding an eight fight win streak, including his Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Finals knockout victory over longtime MMA veteran Travis “Diesel” Wiuff. For the man they call “Pumukli”, winning the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Title would be nothing short of a dream come true.

“This fight is all I am focused on,” Vegh said. “I’ve never worked harder for something in my life, and on February 28th, I will hold that belt and become the new Bellator World Champion.”

“Both Christian and Attila made incredible runs through their respective tournaments, and I expect nothing but fireworks on February 28th,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “New Mexico’s own Orthrus Promotions is going to provide Bellator with tremendous support and we’re very excited to begin our partnership.”

dInvicta Fighting Championships has been a trailblazer through its first year as the world’s only all-female MMA promotion, and they continued to blaze even more trails with InvictaFC 4, which was supposed to be the promotion’s debut on Internet pay-per-view. Technical difficulties at the beginning of the night however caused officials to decide to broadcast the event for free.

In the main event at InvictaFC 4, Carla Esparza toughed out a unanimous decision over late replacement Bec Hyatt to claim the organization’s first-ever 115-pound title. Hyatt attempted to come out with a fast start hoping to end the fight early and catch Esparza off guard, but Esparza’s wrestling was too much for Hyatt and she was able to grind out a 50-45 decision on all three judges’ scorecards after five rounds. In the co-headliner, Alexis Davis avenged an earlier loss to Shayna Baszler with a third round submission win. Other notable winners were bantamweight Leslie Smith in a back-and-forth bout against former friend Raquel Pennington, Ediane Gomes in a display of power over Hitomi Akano, and 105-pound atomweight Cassie Rodish.

Dream returns for one night only event

Dream returned to Japan on New Year’s Eve for a one-shot MMA event titled Dream.18, and a few notable names were in action at the event. In the headliner, Shinya Aoki submitted UFC veteran Antonio McKee after landing a big right hand on the American wrestler that caused him to tap out while holding the ropes. Longtime Japanese veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri won for the the fifth straight time, continuing his successes since dropping to the featherweight division by earning a unanimous decision over the struggling Michihiro Omigawa. Fan favorites Bibiano Fernandes and Melvin Manhoef both earned quick stoppages – Fernandes a technical guillotine over Yoshiro Maeda, and Manhoef a TKO via knee over Denis Kang.

Strikeforce set to say farewell

Strikeforce is set to say farewell with its final event Jan. 12, as the card will feature a headliner between welterweight champion Nate Marquardt and challenger Tarec Saffiedine. Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier is also on the card, as he’ll take on veteran Dion Staring. Other notable bouts feature grand prix runner-up Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino, light heavyweights Mike Kyle vs. Gegard Mousasi, and former middleweight champion Ronaldo Souza vs. UFC import Ed Herman.

With Strikeforce on its death bed, the UFC has begun to absorb some of the organization’s talent, including Cormier, who signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC and will enter the heavyweight mix after his bout against Staring. Despite an ugly exit from the UFC, Marquardt is also back in the top organization in the world, as well as former title challenger Tyron Woodley, who already has his first UFC date set: UFC 156 against Jay Hieron. Other imports are expected to take place as well, and as many as 20 Strikeforce fighters will receive UFC contracts.

Quick Hits

MMA legend and UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn announced his retirement from MMA at the age of 54; he had 101 wins in the sport…Bellator matched the UFC’s offer to sign former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, and UFC president Dana White has predicted that negotiations could “get ugly”…Bellator has set its light heavyweight tournament field, including former UFC title challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral, former Strikeforce champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, and Seth Petruzelli…The highlight-based Bellator 360 debuted on Spike TV on Thursday and had nearly 500,000 viewers, more than any Bellator event on MTV 2.

Rumblings

Dave Meltzer reported that 10 women under are UFC contract, including Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, and Sara McMann. Cris “Cyborg” Santos is also in talks with the organization, but they will only sign her to compete at 135 pounds…Bellator is expected to make 4-6 appearances in Ohio this year…UFC on FOX 6 will take place on April 20 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose…After Strikeforce’s last event, Showtime is expected to immediately get back in the MMA business, and favorites to take the slot are World Series of Fighting and/or Invicta Fighting Championships.

By David McKinney (@MMAMcKinney)

ProFightingFans.com Editor

Erick Silva has backed out of his scheduled UFC 156 fight with Jay Hieron due to injury.  No need to worry, the UFC has already announced his replacement.  Former Strikeforce title contender Tyron Woodley will step in to the UFC octagon for the first time to face Hieron.

Woodley is coming off of his first career defeat at the hands of current Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt.  Meanwhile, Hieron made his return to the UFC in October, when he lost a unanimous decision to Jake Ellenberger.

Tyron Woodley will be looking to make a statement in his UFC debut.  Especially, since he just tasted defeat for the first time.  Woodley’s MMA record is 10-1 with 6 of those wins coming by way of submission.  His most notable victory came over former UFC fighter Paul Daley.  Woodley defeated Daley by unanimous decision on July 30, 2011 at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.

Jay Hieron has been fighting professionally since 2003.  He welcomed Georges St. Pierre to the UFC octagon.  Needless to say, Hieron is an experienced mixed martial artist.   He began his second stint with the UFC in 2012, after being away from the organization for almost seven years.  Hieron boasts a record of 21-4 overall and 0-3 in the UFC.  He was also the Bellator season 4 welterweight tournament winner, which earned him a shot at champion Ben Askren.  Hieron lost to Askren by split decision.

UFC 156 takes place February 2, 2012 in Las Vegas Nevada.  The main event of the evening is a UFC featherweight championship bout between current champ Jose Aldo and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.  Other matchups on the card are Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

In the most emotional win of her career, Jessica Eye (9-1, 3-0 Bellator) earned a first round submission win over Zoila Gurgel in a featured bout at Bellator 83 in Atlantic City last night.

Eye immediately opened up in the early going with her striking, dropping Gurgel with a flurry. After Gurgel recovered, the Northeast Ohio native locked on a standing arm triangle, eventually choking the Bellator women’s 115-pound champion unconscious just 58 seconds into the bout.

There was plenty of talk back and forth between the two Ohio female fighters, but it was Eye who was able to back it up when they stepped in the cage.

Gurgel’s seven-fight winning streak was snapped, while Eye picked up her sixth consecutive win.

Check out video highlights of the fight below, courtesy of Bellator.

 

By David McKinney for OHMMA.com

Bellator 83 Highlights
Get More: Bellator 83 Highlights

Ryan Ford vs. Kyle Baker

Canadian veteran Ryan “The Real Deal” Ford (18-4) looks to make it two for two under the Bellator banner when he meets promotional rookie Kyle “Alley Cat” Baker (12-6) in a 170-pound match at BFC 79.

Ford, 30, is a Canadian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Tri-Star Gym.  “The Real Deal” made his professional debut in June of 2007 and won eight of his first ten losing twice against Pat Healy in Maximum FC title fights.  Ford is no stranger to tough competition, picking up wins over competitive opponents like Pete Spratt, Karo Parisyan, and Laverne Clarke.  Prior to signing with Bellator earlier this year, Ford spent his career touring the regional scene in Canada fighting for organizations like MFC, AMMA, and TFC.  The southpaw won nine of his last eleven before winning at BFC 67 this past May over Luis Santos.

Baker, 32, is a Virginia based mixed martial artist who fights out of the MMA Institute.  The 5’11” Baker made his professional debut in March of 2007 and lost three of his first five before turning it around and winning nine of his next ten.  Baker was riding some momentum before losing two of his last three overall.  A veteran of several east coast promotions, Baker has competed for Cagefest Xtreme, Ultimate Warrior Challenge and NAAFS organizations, among others.  The knockout artist holds career wins over notable opponents like Levon Maynard and Drew Fickett.  In his most recent action this past March, Baker lost a unanimous decision at CWFC – Fight Night 4 against UFC veteran Lucio Linhares.

PERDICTION – FORD SUBMISSION

Douglas Lima vs. Jacob Ortiz

Season 5 Welterweight Tournament winner Douglas Lima (21-5) is attempting to get back in the winning column after losing his title fight seven months ago and will face Jacob Ortiz (13-3) at Bellator 79 on the main card.

Lima, 24, is a Brazil native who now fights out of American Top Team – Atlanta.  “The Phenom” made his professional debut in July 2006 and won eleven of his first twelve.  The well rounded Lima dropped three of his next four at the end of 2008 and into 2009 but eventually rebounded to win six in a row including the vacant Maximum FC Welterweight Title.  After defending his title one time, Lima joined the Bellator roster and won his first three bouts in the season 5 170-pound tournament earning a title opportunity with his KO victory over Ben Saunders at BFC 57 last November.  At Bellator 64 this past April, Lima lost a unanimous decision against current Champ Ben Askren for the 170-pound belt.

Ortiz is an Arizona based mixed martial artist who fights out of Power MMA.  The 6’0” former middleweight made his professional debut in late 2008 and won his first seven fights before falling in two of his next three.  A veteran of several western United States regional organizations, Ortiz won five in a row to earn a chance to fight for Bellator in 2011.  Ortiz defeated UFC/WEC veteran Edgar Garcia at Bellator 55 last October knocking him out for his debut win.  Since that victory however, Ortiz has split a pair of fights on the regional circuit winning his most recent this past July in a Mexican regional event.

PREDICTION – LIMA TKO

Mike Richman vs. Shahbulat Shamhalaev

Former The Ultimate Fighter 12 participant Mike Richman (13-1) is trying to continue his momentum in the Bellator organization when he meets Russian prospect Shahbulat Shamhalaev (10-1-1) in the BFC 79 Season 7 Featherweight Tournament Semifinal.

Richman, 27, is a Minnesota based mixed martial artist who fights out of The Academy.  “The Marine” made his professional debut in 2008 and won his first nine of his career competing in multiple regional events.  His first loss came in a split decision form in February 2011 while competing for a small Minnesota local promotion.  Since that loss, Richman has posted four straight victories including back to back for the Bellator organization.  He pulled off an upset in his April 2012 BFC 64 debut with a KO of Chris Horodecki and then knocked out Jeremy Spoon in 23 seconds at BFC 76 in October during the Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals.

Shamhalaev, 29, is a Russian based mixed martial artist who now fights out of New York with Team Bombsquad.  The 5’8” Shamhalaev made his professional debut in 2009 winning his first two contests, however lost his third while fighting for the M-1 Challenge against UFC veteran Khabib Nurmagomedov.  After suffering his only career defeat, the muay-thai specialist went on an eight fight unbeaten streak while fighting in his native Russia as well as in the Ukraine.  At Bellator 76 this past October in the Season 7 Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals, Shamhalaev picked up a 1st round TKO victory over Cody Bollinger.

PREDICTION – RICHMAN TKO

Richard Hale vs. Thiago Santos

American Richard Hale (20-4-1) will meet Brazilian Thiago Santos (11-1, NC) in a Bellator 79 Season 7 Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal match in the night’s main event.

Hale, 27, is a Cleveland, Ohio based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Konkrete Gym in Arizona.  “Rare Breed” made his professional debut in December 2006 and posted a 15-3-1 mark over his first four years in the business fighting mostly for the Rage in the Cage organization.  The 6’4” Hale joined the Bellator roster in 2011 and advanced into the Season 4 Light Heavyweight Tournament Final where he was defeated by Champion Christian M’Pumbu at BFC 45 in May 2011.  Since that title loss, Hale has ripped off three straight victories including the October 2012 Bellator 75 TKO win over Mike Wessel in the Season 7 Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinals.

Santos, 25, is a Brazil native who fights out of the Top Brother team.  “Big Monster” made his official debut in October 2007 and won eight of his first nine while competing on the Russian and Brazilian regional circuit.  Santos eventually joined the Bellator team in October 2011 and advanced into the Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Final where his BFC 59 bout with Eric Prindle was declared a no contest because of an illegal groin kick.  The 6’3” 256 pound Santos got a rematch in the Season 7 Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinals at Bellator 75 and surprisingly enough, winning via illegal groin kick.

PREDICTION – SANTOS TKO

 

Nick Russell
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

Alvin Robinson vs. Daniel Straus

UFC veteran Alvin “The Kid” Robinson (12-6) brings experience into his Bellator 78 debut in a featherweight match-up against Season 6 Featherweight Tournament winner Daniel Straus (20-4) on the event’s main card.

Robinson, 30, is a California born mixed martial artist who fights out of Colorado with Grudge Fight Team.  “The Kid” made his professional debut in 2005 and won eight of his first nine while competing across the western United States for promotions like Ring of Fire and Fight Force.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt signed with the UFC and posted a 1-3 mark with his only win coming at UFC 77 in a decision over Jorge Gurgel.  Since his 2008 release from the UFC, Robinson has produced a 3-2 record.  In his most recent fight in September 2011, Robinson won the Aggression MMA Featherweight Championship before signing to fight in Bellator.

Straus, 28, is an Ohio based mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Vision.  The 5’8” Straus made his professional debut in early 2009 and lost three of his first seven contests before reeling off twelve straight victories.  During his 12-fight winning streak, Straus began his Bellator career.  Since his 2010 signing, Straus has posted a 6-1 mark in Bellator competition.  Among his organizational highlights are: advancing to the season four 145-pound tournament final and winning the season six 145-pound tournament this past year.  In his Bellator 68 tournament final victory, Straus picked up a decision win over veteran Marlon Sandro this past May.  This fight is a tune up bout before facing the winner of the upcoming bout between 145-pound Champ Pat Curran and challenger Patricio Freire.

PREDICTION – STRAUS DECISION

 

Brian Rogers vs. Dominique Steele

Strikeforce veterans Brian Rogers (9-4) and Dominique Steele (6-2) will meet on the Bellator 78 main card in a middleweight bout.

Rogers, 28, is an Ohio based mixed martial artist who fights out of the Strong Style Fight Team.  “The Predator” made his professional debut in February 2008 and lost two of his first three.  After getting off to a slow start, Rogers went on to win five in a row on the local Ohio regional circuit earning an opportunity to fight for Strikeforce.  He won his only Strikeforce bout in March 2011 with a TKO victory over Ian Rammel on the “Feijao vs. Henderson” card.  In late 2011, Rogers signed with Bellator and entered the season five middleweight tournament, eventually losing in the semifinals via TKO against Alexander Shlemenko.  He was defeated once again in the season six middleweight tournament semifinals this past April via KO against Andrea Spang.

Steele is an Ohio born mixed martial artist who fights out of Aron Thomas Jiu-Jitsu.  The 6’0” 185 pounder made his professional debut in February 2011 and lost via 1st round KO.  He rebounded to win his next six fights competing on the regional circuit including a win for the Strikeforce organization.  He lost his most recent fight this past January at Pure MMA against David Branch.

PREDICTION – ROGERS DECISION

Marius Zaromskis vs. Andrey Koreshkov

Former DREAM Champion and Strikeforce Title Challenger Marius Zaromskis (19-6, NC) will take on undefeated Russian welterweight prospect Andrey Koreshkov (11-0) in the season 7 170-pound tournament semifinal at Bellator 78.

Zaromskis, 32, is a Lithuanian born mixed martial artist who fights out of MMA Bushido in England.  “Whitemare” made his professional debut in 2000 and won nine of twelve while touring the regional circuit in England in places like Cage Rage and ZT Fight Night.  The 5’9” southpaw won the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix in 2009 to become the organizations first 170-pound Champion.  He also went winless in a three-fight stint for Strikeforce in 2010 (0-2, NC).  After bouncing around in Europe and Japan, Zaromskis moved into the Bellator organization in 2012 and has been a perfect 3-0 since.  He won his season 7 welterweight tournament quarterfinal match with a unanimous decision victory over Nordine Taleb this past September at BFC 74.

Koreshkov, 22, is a Russian based mixed martial artist who fights out of the upstart Rus Fighters Sport Club.  Koreshkov made his professional debut in 2010 and won his first eight fights while competing on the Finland and Russian regional circuit.  In early 2012 Koreshkov moved into the Bellator organization and has gone 3-0 since his signing.  In his most recent fight this past September at Bellator 74, the 6’0” Koreshkov defeated Jordan Smith via unanimous decision in the season 7 170-pound tournament quarterfinal match.

PREDICTION – KORESHKOV DECISION

Michail Tsarev vs. Lyman Good

Undefeated Russian welterweight Michail Tsarev (23-0) puts his record on the line in a season 7 170-pound tournament semifinal match against former Champion Lyman Good (13-2) at Bellator 78 in the main event.

Tsarev, 26, is a Russian born mixed martial artist who fights out of the HB Ultimate Training Center and the Rus Fighters Sport Club in his native country.  “The Lonely Wolf” made his professional debut in late-2005 and won his first 13 bouts while competing on the regional circuit across Russia.  Tsarev dropped back to back bouts in 2008 but rebounded to win his following ten fights in Russia before signing with Bellator earlier this year.  He won at Bellator 74 this past September in the 170-pound tournament quarterfinal match with a submission victory over Tim Welch.

Good, 27, is a New York based mixed martial artist who fights out of Tiger Schulmann Mixed Martial Arts.  Good made his professional debut in October of 2005 and won his first seven fights while competing across the mid-level circuit with companies like Ring of Combat, IFL and Cage Fury FC.  Good was with Bellator from the beginning and capture the organizations first welterweight title belt at Bellator 11.  He held the title until losing to Ben Askren at Bellator 33 in October of 2010.  Since giving up his belt, Good has been ousted from the season 4 welterweight tournament in the semifinals and advanced to the season 7 semifinals after his Bellator 74 decision win over Jim Wallhead this past September.  Good is 6-2 overall for the Bellator organization.

PREDICTION – GOOD TKO

 

Nick Russell
Profightingfans.com Staff Writer