Hot on the heels of last week’s knockout packed show, but definitely swimming against the tide as a stream of high profile UFC cards have been dominating the MMA airwaves Bellator return with the first ever defence of their Light Heavyweight title and the semi-finals of their Lightweight tourney.
Christian M’Pumbu (18-4-1) knocked out Chris Davis, Tim Carpenter and Richard Hale to earn the inaugural Bellator Light Heavyweight belt but promptly lost via decision in a non title ‘super fight’ to Travis Wiuff while waiting for a new challenger to be created, robbing the champion of momentum and the belt of some lustre.
Meanwhile, that challenger emerged in the shape of Attila Vegh (28-4-2) who steamed through Zelg Galesic, current tournament finalist Emanuele Newton and finally a first round KO of that man, Wiuff to earn the title shot.
Both fighters are experienced with a combined fifty seven fights, although Vegh is by far the busier, cramming his 34 bouts into a five year career while M’Pumbu has fewer fights over four more years – and six of them came on only two nights!
In keeping with the current trend of Bellator’s LHW division, these two are finishers and both capable of securing the win with strikes or submissions BUT between them they have only been stopped three times. I can’t decide whether that indicates an exciting decision or a short night, but either way this fight is a complete coin toss which will be decided by the smallest of margins.
The semi-finals of the lightweight tourney feature some relatively unfamiliar names fighting for the honour to be the next person crushed by… sorry, the next to challenge incumbent champion Michael Chandler.
First up, we have David Rickels (12-1) and Jason Fischer (6-1) facing off in a rematch only four months in the making. Rickels defeated Fischer via decision back in November to earn his spot in the tournament and Fischer is only walking into this match as an injury replacement for Alexander Sarnavskiy, my favourite for this tournament who’s gone and broken his hand.
Rickels has to be the favourite here, having defeated Fischer before and having also oBly been defeated by split decision to Karl Amoussou up at Welterweight. Likewise, earning a win over perennial contender Lloyd Woodard was a big scalp for Rickels.
That said, Fischer has a handy submission game and could pull off a win at any time.
Our other semi final sees Saad Awad (13-4) who was a late addition to the tournament in place of the injured Patricky Friere and made the most of the opportunity with a first round KO of Guilliame deLorenzi to progress facing off with undefeated wunderkind Will Brooks (9-0) who is looking to maintain his streak following his decision win over Ricardo Tirloni in his Bellator debut.
As usual, Bellator is shown live on SPIKE TV and spike.com in the states, but a lack of international licensing and a nonsensical geo-block mean fans in Europe kinda have to resort to dubious online streams or videos uploaded to YouTube the next day.
Bjorn, get that sorted. Seriously.
• Christian M’Pumbu vs. Attila Vegh – for light-heavyweight title
• Jason Fischer vs. David Rickels – lightweight tournament semifinals
• Saad Awad vs. Will Brooks – lightweight tournament semifinals
• Josh Montoya vs. Ed West
• Holly Holm vs. Katie Merrill
• Blas Avena vs. Lenny Lovato Jr.
• Vadiano La Luz vs. Brennan Ward
• Felipe Chavez vs. Russell Wilson
• Josh Appelt vs. Josh Lanier
• Adrian Cruz vs. Nick Gonzalez