Tomorrow night Bellator Fighting Championship kicks off yet another promising display of top MMA prospects for its fourth season with Bellator 37. Tearing the roof off the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Oklahoma two hours earlier than normal at 7pm ET due to the UFC’s own offering tomorrow night during the same time block, Bellator brings fans a Season 4 Featherweight Tournament stacked with some of the world’s best talent at 145lbs. just aching to get their hands on reigning champion Joe Warren (6-1). Starting off the night is Daniel Straus (14-2), a competitor who hasn’t lost a fight since April 2009 when he succumbed to the fists of No. 1 lightweight contender Pat Curran (12-3), looking to spoil the Bellator debut of “Naza” Nazareno Malegarie (19-0) who himself aims to maintain his perfect record and take out the veteran Straus. “The Tooth Fairy” Kenny Foster (8-2) looks to follow up his successful September 2010 Bellator debut and punch his ticket into the semi-finals of the tournament at the expense of undefeated newcomer Eric Larkin (3-0). Two-time semi-finalist and fan beloved former Elite XC Bantamweight Champion Wilson Reis (11-2), known for his tough as nails fighting style, has a score to settle with fellow tournament competitor “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (6-1) but he first will have to get past the experienced IFL veteran Zac George (20-3), a viable threat to Reis’ hopes for redemption. In the main event of the evening, Bellator veteran and Russian import “Insane” Georgi Karakhanyan (15-2) takes on the relentless Minotauro Jiu-Jitsu black belt Patricio Freire. Karakhanyan looks to derail the dangerous submission expert and take one step closer to Warren, but Freire has the same goals as his adversary, which certainly will make for an impressive battle.
Daniel Straus vs. Nazareno Malegarie: Straus is on a solid tear having won ten consecutive fights since June 2009. The Cleveland native has made his rounds in the local circuits and minor pro leagues, with his most recent fight hosted by Shark Fights in September against WEC veteran Karen Darabedyan (9-4). Though a Bellator newcomer, Nazareno Malegarie is also an experienced force in the Bellator Season 4 Featherweight Tournament, winning the majority of his fights with slick submissions and finishing all but two of his opponents. Contrarily, Straus has earned most of his wins via decision. It is in Straus’ best interest to keep the fight standing or otherwise risk playing right into Malegarie’s game by taking it to the canvas. Should the fight hit the mat, the Argentinian will likely make very short work of Straus, as he boasts a dozen submission victories out of his cumulative and consecutive 19 wins. Chances are the American Straus will not be able to fend off the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace’s submission attempts for long, and consequently his winning streak will be ground to a halt.. Nazareno Malegarie via Arm-In Triangle, Round 1.
Kenny Foster vs. Eric Larkin: Foster received his spot in the Season 4 Featherweight Tournament with a win over Lester Caslow (6-4) at Bellator 33 last October. A very well rounded fighter himself, Foster has shown the ability to finish his opponents standing and on the mat, as well as the fortitude to go the distance and take the fight unanimously on the judges’ score cards. Eric Larkin may be a newer face in professional MMA, but he has already begun making his mark thanks to the trio of pro fights under his belt all resulting in Larkin finishing his opponents before even the three minute mark of the first round. Foster may wisely feel more inclined to keep the fight on the feet where he stands a greater chance of out-striking his opponent or grinding out another decision victory. However, Larkin has also shown that he possesses finishing power, and his striking is to be respected. The more distance the fight goes the better it is for Foster. With Larkin never having gone out of the first round, his gas tank and whether he can withstand a more drawn-out battle must be brought into question. Foster will likely maintain some distance between his opponent, striking from the outside and stuffing takedown attempts into the later rounds when Larkin may begin to slow, and walk out of the cage as a Bellator Season 4 Featherweight Tournament semi-finalist. Kenny Foster via Unanimous Decision.
Wilson Reis vs. Zac George: Fan loved and tough as nails fighter Wilson Reis is back for another run at the Bellator featherweight title and also has a score to settle against Patricio Freire. In his way to a possible rematch with the young Brazilian is the hard nosed Zac George. The Team Quest stand-out George is riding a strong six fight win streak where he finished five of those half-dozen opponents – three in the first round. Making his Bellator debut against Reis could be either a nightmare or a blessing for the young George, for Reis has fended off quite a few formidable adversaries of his own to walk away with a submission or decision victory. If Zac can throw off Wilson’s game and keep the fight where he wants it, most likely with Reis on his back, he could pull off an upset. Reis, however, is no schlub. Among his list of accomplishments are his claim as the first and only Elite XC Bantamweight Champion, and certainly he would like to add another title to his collection. He has never finished an opponent by knockout, just four of his 11 victories have come by submission, and the remainder via decision – but Reis’ fights are no eye sore. The Elite XC gold touting fighter hones a lock-down drag-out style that keeps the fans entertained for the entire 15 minute duration of a match. Reis is hungry for a win and to have another shot at Freire and he likely will not falter on his way to his ultimate goal. Wilson Reis via Unanimous Decision.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Patricio Freire: Former soccer player turned mixed martial artist Georgi Karakhanyan, nicknamed “Insane” due to his high energy and reckless pace in the cage and on the soccer field, returns to the Bellator cage tonight against Season 2 finalist Patricio Freire, who in the eyes of some was robbed in his bout with current Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren at BFC 23 in June, where he was on the losing end of a Split Decision. Karakhanyan also faced Warren and lost unanimously on the score cards in their BFC 18 bout last May. Something that undisputedly may be awarded to Warren is that he did show the holes in both of the young fighters’ game, that being in the wrestling department. Karakhanyan would fare best against Freire keeping the fight standing and aiming for another highlight reel knockout victory much like the one from his Bellator debut when he KO’ed “The Taz” Bao Quach (18-10-1) in the first round. With his lone loss coming via the man who he has the chance of facing for the Bellator 145lbs. title, rest assured that Freire will bring everything he has to tonight’s bout. Expect Freire to attempt multiple takedown in an effort to bring the fight to his playing field: on the mat, where he would hope to lock in a submission and finish the fight quickly. The early parts of the fight is when both men are fresh and most dangerous, as Freire will look to drag Karakhanyan to the mat and Karakhanyan will look to punish Freire with strikes until he finishes him. Both men have a lot to win in the opening round of the tournament and they already know the fate that awaits the one who comes up short: the door leading home. Georgi Karakhanyan via KO (Knee and Strikes), Round 1.
Bellator 37 features the following bouts on its undercard:
Local main event: Jake Rosholt vs. John Bryant
Local co-main event: Jeremy Spoon vs. Jerrod Sanders
Local Feature Fight #2: Brandon Shelton vs. Adam Snook
Local Feature Fight #1: Roli Delgado vs. Jameel Massouh