Emmanuel Newton vs. Attila Vegh

Light-Heavyweights Emmanuel Newton (18-6-1) and Attila Vegh (26-4-2) will meet at Bellator 72 in a 205-pound Tournament Semifinal bout.

Newton, 28, is a California based mixed martial artist who trains out of Reign MMA and Kings MMA.  The 6’1” Newton began his professional career in 2003 winning only two of his first five.  He eventually caught fire winning nine straight before hitting another slump in 2009; one that saw him lose three in a row.  The Maximum FC, Shark Fights, and IFL veteran joined Bellator earlier this year and won his BFC 71 debut with a submission victory over Rob Broughton in the tournament quarterfinals.

Vegh, 26, is a Hungary born mixed martial artist who fights out of Slovakia with Octagon Fighting Academy.  The 6’2” Vegh made his professional debut in 2008 and won 18 of his first 20 while touring the European regional circuit.  Vegh continued to bounce around fighting in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, among other countries before making his American debut earlier this year.  The well rounded Vegh won at Bellator FC 66 defeating Dan Spohn via split decision and submitted Zelg Galesic at BFC 71 in June during the light-heavyweight tournament quarterfinals.

Prediction – Newton TKO

Tim Carpenter vs. Travis Wiuff

Bellator veterans Tim Carpenter (9-1) and Travis Wiuff (57-14, NC) will meet in a Bellator 72 Light Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal round bout.

Carpenter, 31, is a Philadelphia, PA based mixed martial artist who fights out of Balance Studios.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made his professional debut in December of 2005 and won his first five fights while competing in regional organizations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Bellator signed Carpenter in late-2010 and he repaid the organization by advancing into the season 4 light-heavyweight tournament semifinals round where he lost to current champ Christian M’Pumbu.  Carpenter earned another opportunity in this years’ Summer Series Light-Heavyweight Tournament; defeating Beau Tribolet this June at BFC 71 in the quarterfinals.  Carpenter is 4-1 overall for Bellator Fighting Championships.

Wiuff, 34, is a Minnesota born mixed martial artist who now fights out of Utah with Elite Performance.  “Diesel” made his professional debut in September of 2001 and over the next eleven years has been one of the busiest fighters in the sport.  Wiuff made one appearance at UFC 40 losing via submission to Vladimir Matyushenko at the November 2002 event.  Wiuff won an impressive 19 straight fights from March 2003 through February 2005 while competing in regional and international events.  After stints in IFL, Yamma Pit Fighting, Pride, and the IFC, Wiuff signed with Bellator in 2011 and defeated the current 205-pound Champion Christian M’Pumbu in a non-title bout.  He also knocked out Chris Davis at BFC 71 this July in a Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal round bout.

Prediction – Wiuff Decision

Marius Zaromskis vs. Waachim Spiritwolf

Waachim Spiritwolf (9-10-1, NC) will attempt to pick up a win over Marius Zaromskis (17-6, NC) in his third attempt when the two welterweights meet in a Bellator 72 main card bout.

Zaromskis, 31, is a Lithuania born mixed martial artist who fights out of American Kickboxing Academy in California.  The former kick boxer made his professional MMA debuting 2000 and won 9 of his first 12 while competing in England mostly for the Cage Rage organization.  He made the move to DREAM in 2009 and went an impressive 4-0 becoming the organizations’ first 170-pound Champion.  Riding his four fight winning streak, Zaromskis made the move into the Strikeforce organization in 2010, however went winless in a pair of bouts including a No Contest against Spiritwolf in their first meeting.  Bellator was next, and Zaromskis won at BFC 68 in May 2012 with a TKO (cut) victory over Spiritwolf.

Spiritwolf, 36, is a San Diego, CA based mixed martial artist who fights out of his own Spiritwolf MMA.  The stand-up based fighter made his professional debut in April of 2006 and toured the regional circuit all over the United States posting a respectable 8-6-1 mark.  In October 2010, Spiritwolf debuted with Strikeforce but went winless over a pair of fights with the California based organization.  Spiritwolf made the move into Bellator last year picking up a split decision victory over Jaime Jara at Bellator 35.  His most recent action took place at BFC 68 this May losing via TKO against Zaromskis.  His Bellator record in 1-1, however Spiritwolf has dropped three straight fights.

Prediction – Zaromskis TKO

Rudy Bears vs. Paul Daley

Rudy Bears (14-10) will begin his third stint with the Bellator organization when he meets UFC/Strikeforce veteran Paul Daley (29-12-1) in a Bellator 72 main card bout contested at 170 pounds.

Bears, 33, is a Missouri born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Caveman Crew in Kansas City.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt made his professional debut in July of 2007 and he went on to win 10 of his first 14 while fighting on the regional circuit as well as short stints with M-1 Global and Strikeforce.  “Bad News” first Bellator stint began in April 2010 splitting four fights through October 2010.  He had short stops with Titan FC and C3 Fights, but returned to Bellator in 2011 dropping another pair of fights with the organization.  He got back on track in May at Titan FC 22 with a submission victory over Nick Nolte to earn a third chance with Bellator.

Daley, 29, is an England based mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Rough House in Nottingham.  “Semtex” made his professional debut in 2003 and posted an impressive 14-6-2 while spending his first four years competing in his home country.  After short stints with Strikeforce, Cage Rage, Sho XC, and Maximum FC signed with the UFC in 2009.  While in the UFC, Daley won two of his three fights but was released after his UFC 113 loss to Josh Koscheck following a post-fight altercation.  Since his release over two years ago, Daley has recorded a 6-3 record while fighting for Strikeforce, BAMMA, Impact FC, Ringside MMA and Shark Fights.  He lost his most recent fight while with Strikeforce dropping a decision in March against Kazuo Misaki.

Prediction – Daley TKO

Bryan Baker vs. Karl Amoussou

Bryan “The Beast” Baker (18-3) will meet Karl “Psycho” Amoussou (15-4-2) in the Bellator 72 main event that will crown the Season 6 Welterweight Tournament Champion.

Baker, 26, is a California based mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Wildman Vale Tudo.  “The Beast” made his professional debut in January 2007 and won his first four bouts while fighting in small regional events.  He also went 2-1 for the WEC during 2007-08.  After losing to Chael Sonnen at WEC 33, he went on to win his next three contests before joining the Bellator organization.  He has fought exclusively for Bellator since April 2010 and has posted an 8-2 mark while competing in the season 2 middleweight tournament, the season five middleweight tournament and the current season 6 welterweight tourney.  Baker defeated Carlos Alexandre Pereira and Ben Saunders to earn his place in the finals.

Amoussou, 26, is a French based mixed martial artist who has twelve stoppage victories in fifteen victories.  “Psycho” made his professional debut in 2006 and fought in regional organizations across Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia, England, Japan among others winning 11 of his first 14.  He fought Trevor Prangley to a draw in 2010 in his only bout for the Strikeforce organization and lost at Bellator 45 in his organizational debut, but has been nothing short of impressive since.  Amoussou, who is 3-1 for Bellator, defeated Chris Lozano and David Rickels to earn his place in the tournament finals.

Prediction – Amoussou TKO

 

Nick Russell
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

Bellator’s 170 pound division is one of their most active crowning tournament champions in Seasons 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and another welterweight tournament expected during their 7th season. After Lyman Good became the Season 1 winner and first Bellator Welterweight Champion he was unseated by Ben Askren at Bellator 33. While Askren has now defended his title twice, defeating Jay Hieron by split decision at Bellator 56, his utter domination of Douglas Lima at Bellator 64 is likely his best performance to date.

Given the tournament format of Bellator leaving little debate in terms of rankings, it is still important to look at the big picture of recent activity from each fighter as well as their historic results.

And now the ranking of the best of the Bellator Welterweight Division…

 

Top Bellator Welterweight Fighter Rankings:

1. Ben Askren – (10-0, 7-0 BFC) – With just three fights under his belt before making his Bellator debut, the former U.S. Olympic wrestler won Bellator’s Season 2 Welterweight Tournament beating Dan Hornbuckle by decision at Bellator 22. He followed the win by defeating Champion Lyman Good at Bellator 33 by decision and has defended his title once defeating Jay Hieron last Fall by split decision. While Askren is 10-0 and the 170 lb Champion for Bellator, his inability to finish top-level competition will undoubtedly be brought up by his critics, ProFighting-fans.com included. However, few fighters can bring in an obvious game plan to each fight and thoroughly dominate the way Askren dominated Douglas Lima at Bellator 64. Until someone proves they can beat him at his own game, or fend off his takedowns, Askren is the kingpin of Bellator’s 170 lb division and deserves a spot in the worldwide Top 10 rankings of MMA Welterweights.

2. Douglas Lima – (21-5, 3-1 BFC) – Undefeated in his last 9 fights prior to Bellator 64, Douglas Lima showed that the pre Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament hype was warranted, but when matched up with Askren he was highly overmatched. With the loss expect to see Lima in a future Bellator Welterweight Tournament, hopefully along with Jay Hieron in the Fall of 2012.

3. Karl Amoussou – (16-4-2, 4-1 BFC) – Amoussou, a veteran of M-1 Global and Strikeforce, joined Bellator’s Season 6 Welterweight Tournament with an impressive finish of Bellator vet Chris Lozano at Bellator 63 and followed the win by topping previously unbeaten David Rickels by split decision at Bellator 67. In the tournament finals Amoussou locked in a heel hook to defeat Bryan Baker in just 56 seconds at Bellator 72 to earn a title shot opposite Askren.

4. Brian Foster – (18-5, 0-0 BFC) – Despite never having stepped into the Bellator cage Brian Foster has one of the most impressive resumes of anyone on the promotion’s roster. Foster went 3-2 with the UFC before being cut and is riding a 4-fight win streak that he was hoping to extend at Bellator 63 but he was not medically cleared to fight by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation. It is hopeful that Foster can gain medical clearance in the future and that he is completely healthy as the talented welterweight could make some major waves in Bellator’s 170 pound division.

5. Bryan Baker – (18-4, 8-3 BFC) – One of the most veteran fighters in the Bellator organization with 11 fights inside the Bellator cage, Bryan Baker was a Season 2 Middleweight Tournament finalist, Season 5 Middleweight Tournament semifinalist and fell to Amoussou in the Season 6 Welterweight Tournament final. The 5 year pro went 2-1 in three fights with the WEC and 2-0 for the Canadian MFC promotion prior to signing with Bellator in 2009.

 

Honorable Mention:  David Rickels, Ben Saunders

For Northeast Ohioans, and much of this website’s demographic, Bellator 71 started off with an upset:Cleveland’s John Hawk andEast Liverpool’s Joey Holt were finished before they ever got started. Journeyman Light Heavyweight “Big” John Hawk, one of the most reliable workhorses of the 205 pound division saw his fight with Tim Carpenter nixed when Tournament odds-on-favorite Rich Hale cancelled due to illness. Carpenter stepped up to fightPhoenix,Arizona’s Beau Tribolet, leaving a disappointed Hawk without an opponent. Likewise,East Liverpool’s Joey Holt lost his opportunity to equal his highlight reel knockout of Clint Musser at Bellator 51 when his scheduled opponent, EJ Brooks of East St. Louis,MOcame in a whopping 4 pounds over weight and could not agree to terms that would allow the fight to take place at a catchweight.  But in spite of an inauspicious beginning, Bellator Fighting Championships managed to bring its version of the world stage to a rabid throng of MMA fans who gathered eagerly at The Harv at Mountaineer Casino and Racetrack inChester,West VirginiaFriday night.

Featherweights Neil Johnson (7-4) of Dulles, VA and Brylan Van Artsdalen (7-4) of Palmyra, NJ kicked off the action in what began as a one-sided contest in which Johnson appeared to be completely perplexed by the attack of Van Artsdalen, absorbing a barrage of unanswered leg kicks in a flat-footed display of what appeared to be utter confusion or outright apathy. Early into Round 2, when he caught a Van Artsdalen leg kick, Johnson came to life, suddenly turning the heretofore route into a slugfest that quickly played to his advantage, landing several brutal uppercuts before taking his opponent to the mat and finishing him with a Rear Naked Choke. Fans loudly applauded Johnson who showed his badly bruised thigh to the camera and could be seen limping about the venue later in the evening. One can only assume that Johnson was badly hurt by the early onslaught of leg kicks but eventually managed to execute his game plan, earning a convincing, if altogether bizarre victory.

Jason Butcher of West Hamlin,West Virginiaimproved his unbeaten record to (4-0) defeating Duane Bastress (5-2) of New Cumberland, PA in a bout pitting two crowd favorites against each other at middleweight.  Early in round 1 when Jorge Gurgel-trained Jason Butcher went to the ground just short of willingly, it was to the delight of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purists that he promptly and artfully locked in a fight ending Triangle Choke, submitting his opponent just seconds into the first round. Look for Butcher to make an impact at middleweight in the near future.

In what was to be the upset of the night, home crowd favorite Josh Stansbury (4-2) dropped a gigantic and menacing Dan Spohn with a lightning-fast right hook and proceeded to finish him with a guillotine choke at just 2:36 of the first round.  Spohn, who absorbed both a kick to the groin and a poke in the eye, appeared upset and disoriented begging the question whether a time out was warranted, but detracting very little from what was a demonstration of superior aggression and hand speed by Stansbury who looks to have a bright future, besting the likes of the very worthy opponent in Spohn (6-3).

Another bout pitting local favorites Chris Goldbaugh (2-2) ofWheeling,WVvs. Kevin Zalac (4-2) ofYoungstown,Ohioproved that both sides of the Ohio River were amply represented in their fan base as this back-and-forth battle brought forth alternating cheers from both theOhioandWest Virginiaconstituencies. In the end the superior hand speed and striking of Goldbaugh was simply overwhelmed by Zalac’s gas tank and superior positional wrestling, with Zalac eking out a unanimous decision in what was a closely contested fight as reflected in the judges score cards.

The night’s main card began with bitter rivals and one-time friends, Kevin Asplund and Brett Rogers who put on a show at Heavyweight, throwing heavy leather from the opening bell. It was Rogers who bettered his record to (12-4) over fellow Minnesotan Asplund who fell to (15-2) when he was unable to answer the bell to round 3, earning Rogers a convincing TKO victory in his Bellator debut.

Tim Carpenter (9-1), a last-minute replacement for the ailing Rich Hale, cashed in on his unexpected opportunity, defeating tough-as-nails opponent Beau Tribolet (7-2) by armbar at 4:51 of Round 2 in a fight that was very evenly matched on the feet before Carpenter gained a clear advantage on the ground, securing the win by submission in short order.

Roy Boughton (8-2) ofConcord,CAvs. Emanuel Newton (17-6-1) of  Norwalk, CA had the makings of fight-of-the-night, as the two Californian’s put on a high-energy spectacle, setting a break-neck pace right from the opening bell.Newton’s explosive power was on display immediately with the first round showcasing his ability to simply power through an often technically superior performance by his opponent, Boughton. Any questions as to whether Newton’s gas tank would equal his explosiveness were put to rest 49 seconds into the second round when he sunk in a Rear Naked Choke and submitted his opponent seemingly out of nowhere, solidifying the impression that he set early in the fight, that his skills and athleticism were simply on another level. InNewton, one can see the stuff of which truly great fighters are made and one can only hope that the veteran fighter has in him one more glimmer of brilliance.

In perhaps the most gratifying and endearing performance of the night, Bratislava, Slovakia’s Attila Vegh (26-4) wowed fans into a frenzy with his swift and decisive victory over Croatian powerhouse Zeleg Galesic (11-7). Fans voiced their approval with the contagious enthusiasm of Vegh who showed that submission can be as swift as a knockout punch, first stunning his opponent with a pin-point uppercut to the jaw, and then pouncing on the rear naked choke for the flash-submission victory at 1:00 of the very first round. The crowd was heard to laugh out loud, sharing the jubilation of an overjoyed Vegh.

And in the final bout of the evening, Chris Davis (10-4) of Gadsden, ALput up a valiant effort against MMA mainstay, Travis Wiuff (67-14) of Rochester, MNwho looked menacing and fearsome, ending the fight by way of KO resulting from brutal ground-n-pound at 4:12 of round one. Fans can only stand in awe of one of the Midwest’s finest who earns his 45th win by either KO or submission, and his 34th in the very first round, a record equaled by few in the history of the sport. All in all, a magnificent evening of fights, showcasing a gem of a venue in one of the 50 states newcomers to MMA, but sure to be home to many another great fight,West Virginia.

 

Joe Millin
ProFightingFans Staff Writer

Roy Boughton vs. Emmanuel Newton

California based light-heavyweights Roy Boughton (8-2) and Emmanuel Newton (17-6-1) will meet in a Bellator 71 main card bout that is part of the 205-pound tournament quarterfinal.

Boughton, 23, is a California based mixed martial artist who fights out of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Concord.  Boughton made his professional debut in March 2010 and won his first four fights before suffering somewhat of a setback with two losses over his next three contests.  Boughton, who has faced experienced opponents like Murilo “Ninja” Rua (win) and Sokoudjou (loss), has since picked up victories over his last three bouts.  Prior to signing with Bellator this year, the light-heavyweight has participated in organizations like X-1, Shark Fights, and Score Fighting Series.

Newton, 28, is a California based mixed martial artist who fights out of both Reign MMA and Kings MMA in Norwalk.  The 6’1” Newton made his professional debut in November 2003 and lost three of his first five.  After struggling early on in his career, Newton went on to an unbeaten mark from August 2004 through May of 2009.  After his long unbeaten streak that totaled eleven fights, Newton lost three straight before winning his last five.  He too has faced experienced opponents like Trevor Prangley, James McSweeney and Brain Ebersole while fighting for IFL, MFC and Shark Fights.

Prediction – Newton Decision

Richard Hale vs. Beau Tribolet

Surging light-heavyweights Richard “Rare Breed” Hale (19-4-1) and Beau Tribolet (7-1) will meet in a 205-pound tournament quarterfinal bout that is positioned on the Bellator 71 main card.

Hale, 27, is an Ohio born mixed martial artist who fights out of Tempe, Arizona with the Koncrete Gym.  “Rare Breed” made his professional debut in December of 2006 and lost twice out of his first six contests.  He proceeded to win sixteen of his next eighteen bouts to earn a chance in the Bellator tournament.  The Rage in the Cage and Vendetta FC veteran is 4-1 since joining Bellator in March of 2011 and finished in the final of the season 4 Heavyweight Tournament last year.

Tribolet is a Phoenix, Arizona based mixed martial artist who has five submission finishes over his seven career victories.  Tribolet made his professional debut in November of 2008 and lost his first career fight before going on to win his next seven.  The grappling specialist has fought for Rage in the Cage and Superior Cage Combat organizations before signing with Bellator this year.  His most recent victory came last August for Superior Cage Combat defeating Chase Gormley via TKO.

Prediction – Hale Submission

Zelg Galesic vs. Atilla Vegh

Veteran mixed martial artist Zelg Galesic (11-6) will try and make a name for himself in Bellator when he meets Atilla Vegh (25-4-2) in a quarterfinal tournament bout on the BFC 71 main card.

Galesic, 33, is a Croatian born mixed martial artist who fights out of Team Trojan.  The taekwondo black belt made his professional debut in September of 2004 and won six of his first seven bouts while competing in England for Cage Rage and Urban Destruction organizations.  He won only three of his next seven fights while competing in Japan for PRIDE, Hero’s, and DREAM.  He has rebounded to win two of his last three bouts but is 0-1 in Bellator losing in the 2011 middleweight tournament quarterfinal against Alexander Shlemenko.

Vegh, 26, is a Slovakia born mixed martial artist who fights out of the Octagon Fighting Academy.  The 6’2” Vegh made his professional debut in March of 2008 and won thirteen of his first fourteen while competing in international events.  Vegh has continued to fight mostly overseas and has won his last five bouts overall.  He is 1-0 in Bellator winning an April 2012 Bellator 66 light-heavyweight qualifier over Dan Spohn.

Prediction – Galesic Decision

Travis Wiuff vs. Chris Davis

Travis Wiuff (66-14, NC), one of the most experienced fighters in the history of the sport, has seen a career resurgence and will attempt to win the Bellator light-heavyweight tournament when he meets youngster Chris Davis (10-3) in the Bellator 71 main event.

Wiuff, 34, is a Minnesota born mixed martial artist who fights out of Elite Performance.  “Diesel” made his professional debut in September 2001 and won an amazing 41 of his first 47 bouts.  Wiuff did lose five of his next nine during his IFL and PRIDE days.  Wiuff also has fought for the UFC, World Victory Road and many other notable promotions over the course of his career.  He is 2-0 for Bellator winning at BFC 55 and MFC 60 over Christian M’Pumbu and Anthony Gomez respectively.

Davis, 29, is an Alabama based mixed martial artist who fights out of Headhunters MMA.  “The Professional” made his official debut in June of 2008 and won ten of his first twelve while competing in regional promotions across the southern United States.  Davis lost in his only Bellator fight to date via TKO at BFC 38 against Christian M’Pumbu last March.

Prediction – Wiuff Decision

 

Nick Russell
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

While Bellator’s Lightweight division may be the promotion’s deepest, Bellator’s Heavyweight division is was likely the thinnest in terms of top-level talent. Not to take anything away from Bellator’s attempts to build a roster of solid heavyweight fighters, but their own lack of tournaments speaks volumes. Bellator’s initial Heavyweight Tournament came during the Fall of 2010 in Season 3 where Cole Conrad emerged and won the Bellator Heavyweight Championship defeating Neil Grove. A year later they returned the Heavyweights to the cage and while exciting finishes were the norm throughout the tournament, an anti-climactic ending when a Thiago Santos kick to Eric Prindle’s groin left Prindle unable to continue resulting in a No Contest. Prindle eventually was rewarded the tournament championship after Santos could not make weight and Conrad defended his title with relative ease submitting Prindle in round one at Bellator 70.

Given the tournament format of Bellator leaving little debate in terms of rankings, it is still important to look at the big picture of recent activity from each fighter as well as their historic results.

And now the ranking of the best of othe Bellator Heavyweight Division…

 

Top Bellator Heavyweight Fighter Rankings:

 

1. Cole Conrad – (9-0, 7-0 BFC) – A 2-time NCAA National Championship wrestler from Minnesota, Cole Conrad is undefeated in his first 9 pro MMA bouts and became the promotion’s first Heavyweight Champion at Bellator 32 in October 2010. While Conrad has fought just twice since winning the belt, he was successful in his first title defense to remain atop the Bellator heavyweight division. With several recent signings it appears that Bellator will have yet another heavyweight tournament during Season 7 this Fall.

2. Eric Prindle – (9-2-1, 3-1-1 BFC) – Bellator Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament finalist Eric Prindle edges his Tournament final opponent Thiago Santos on this list based on a more impressive resume of wins. While the two still have yet to fight, Prindle was awarded the tournament championship and title shot after an illness kept Prindle from fighting one week and Santos’ inability to make weight forced Bellator’s hand on the third attempt. Prindle faced TUF 10 vet Abe Wagner at Bellator 52 to advance to the semifinals and knocked out previously unbeaten Ron Sparks at Bellator 56 to make the finals. Expect to see Prindle in the 8-man tournament field this Fall.

3. Thiago Santos – (10-1-1, 2-0-1 BFC) – Thiago, Prindle’s fellow Bellator Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament finalist, was on the giving end of the kick that caused a fair amount of controvery at the conclusion of Bellator’s 5th season. Deemed an inadvertant kick, Santos was to face Prindle once again to decide which fighter will get a shot at Cole Conrad’s Championship belt, but he could not make weight. Santos made his way into the tournament thanks to a win over Josh Burns at Bellator 53 to determine a reserve for the tounament and a subsequent injury to open the door for Santos. He followed the win with a 1st round submission of Neil Grove at Bellator 56 to advance to the final opposite Prindle.

4. Ron Sparks – (8-1, 3-1 BFC) – Ron “The Monster” Sparks entered Bellator’s Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament as one of the more hyped fighters at 7-0 as a pro with 5 KO/TKO wins. After a KO win over Mark Holata at Bellator 52 Sparks got a taste of his own medicine getting knocked out early in the 1st round to end his run at Bellator 56. He was scheduled to fight at Bellator 69 in a probable tournament qualifier, but a medical issue kept Sparks out of the fight.

Possibly the most difficult division to rank within the Bellator MMA promotion is their Light Heavyweight Division. The most inactive division of all, the organization has held just two Light Heavyweight Tournaments coming in Season 4 during the Spring of 2011 and during the 2012 Summer Series. To add to the complexity of ranking these fighters the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, Christian M’Pumbu, became the lone Bellator Champ to lose in a non-title fight for the promotion when he dropped a unanimous decision to Travis Wiuff at Bellator 55. On top of M’Pumbu’s unimpressive showing these rankings become even more difficult as Bellator has signed several young 205 lb fighters who have since been unable to take advantage of their opportunities as well as two bigger names in King Mo Lawal and Babalu Sobral.

Given the tournament format of Bellator leaving less debate in terms of rankings, it is still important to look at the big picture of recent activity from each fighter as well as their historic results.

And now the ranking of the best of othe Bellator Light Heavyweight Division…

Top Bellator Light Heavyweight Fighter Rankings:

1. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal – (9-1-1, 1-0 BFC) – Likely the biggest name on Bellator’s roster across all divisions, the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Lawal has an interesting role with his employer. Because Viacom owns Bellator as well as TNA Wrestling, Lawal is under contract with both and has already made his pro wrestling debut. His Bellator debut came at Bellator 86 in the opening round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament as he tournament favorite scored a 1st round KO to advance.

2. Attila Vegh – (28-4-2, 4-0 BFC) – One of the favorites heading into the Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament, Attila Vegh was highly impressive in his three tournament fights earning the title shot against Christian M’Pumbu. While an injury has delayed the Bellator 84 scheduled fight to 2013, Vegh seems likely to be the favorite to be Bellator’s next 205lb champ. Vegh started his pro MMA career with 9 straight wins and stays active having fought 20 times in 2009 & 2010 combined.

3. Travis Wiuff – (68-16-1, 4-1 BFC) – The only man to defeat Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Champion, Christian M’Pumbu inside the Bellator cage, Wiuff advanced to the finals of the eight-man Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament by defeating Chris Davis and Tim Carpenter. After a surprising TKO loss to Atilla Vegh, Wiuff returned to action in November 2012 and dropped a split decision with an international promotion.

4. Christian M’Pumbu – (18-4-1, 3-1 BFC) – The promotion’s Light Heavyweight Champion, M’Pumbu gets the #3 spot, literally backing his way out of  the top spots based on a thin pool of talent (in comparison to their other divisions) around him after dropping a unanimous decision to Travis Wiuff at Bellator 55 in a non-title fight. M’Pumbu was slated to fight Vegh in his first title defense at Bellator 84 but an injury postponed the fight to 2013.

5. Mikhail Zayats – (20-6, 1-0 BFC) – After defeating one of Bellator’s bigger-name signees in Babalu Sobral, Zayats immediately deserves consideration for the Top 5 given Bellator’s thin roster of high-level 205lb fighters. A winner of 11 of his past 12 fights, Zayats has fought most of his career for the M-1 promotion before signing with Bellator.

 

Honorable Mention:  Tim Carpenter, Chris Davis, Emanuel Newton, Jacob Noe

 

Complete Bellator Rankings: