The Buckeye State of Ohio will get a heaping dosage of the explosive and fast paced bantamweight division of Bellator Fighting Championships tomorrow night as the Season 5 135lbs. Tournament goes under way. The smaller weight classes seem to never disappoint, and with the addition of the Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (7-1), who has chosen to descend the weight classes in attempt to become the first fighter in Bellator history to consecutively hold two titles, there are sure to be fireworks ahead. Warren will welcome Alexis Vila (8-0) to the Bellator cage in the main event; both competitors are becoming more bitter enemies the closer the fight gets. Returning fan favorite and former featherweight tournament contender Wilson Reis (12-3) steps in as a late replacement as he faces Shooto Brazil veteran Eduardo Dantas (5-2). Former WEC champion and submission ace “The Rage” Chase Beebe (18-5) will face the man who many felt defeated Warren in a catchweight bout earlier this year, “Loro” Marcos Galvao (9-5). Galvao is hungry to get his revenge on Warren but first he has to get past the dangerous Beebe. ”Wild” Ed West (14-5) returns to his old stomping ground against another Shooto Brazil veteran and one-time Bellator fighter “Betao” Luis Nogueira (11-1). Eight 135lb. fighters will enter the cage tomorrow night, but only four will move on to the semi-final round of the tournament.
Ed West vs. Luis Nogueira: Ed West’s name when mentioned typically invokes a mental journey back to his five-round battle with former bantamweight champion ”Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (13-2). West has a true warrior’s heart to back up the strong wrestling background which he likely will employ to gain the edge, and should all go his way, the victory over Luis Nogueira. The Brazilian Nogueira is coming into his Bellator 51 match-up on quite the tear, having reigned victorious in his past seven fights. Futhermore, “Betao” is a member of Brazil’s most renowned luta livre camp, Renovacao Fight Team, and studies under the tutelage of Marcio Barbosa. The young fighter is well-rounded and particularly dangerous on the mat, where at any moment he may launch an attack on his opponent’s limbs. Still, “Wild” West is the stronger of the two and is more apt at controlling the pace of the fight. Expect to see him outwork and wear down the Brazilian en route to the a victory on the judges’ score cards. West via Unanimous Decision
Chase Beebe vs. Marcos Galvao: Two fighters will make their second appearances inside the Bellator cage as Chase Beebe and Marcos Galvao face off with more than a win on the line. Beebe and Galvao both are WEC veterans and have fought all around the globe, but both men have different motivations to gain the victory. Winning the tournament will put Beebe back in the main show spotlight as he desires after climbing out of a bad run of luck in his career, while Galvao wants to gain his win for an opportunity to avenge a loss against champ Joe Warren. Both are dangerous and hungry to gain a win but its all about the game plan. Beebe’s fight blueprint is simple: get the fight to the ground and lock on the submission. Galvao, however, will look to keep the fight standing and punish Beebe for three rounds, since the stand-up department isn’t Beebe’s best skill set. Beebe has also faced bigger and tougher opponents compared to Galvao, so the experience and toughness of the fight game is on his side. Galvao knows he is the underdog against the former WEC champion and stealing the victory from the former champ will punch his ticket to a possible rematch with Warren. The fight could go the distance or end within the first minute of the opening round, but all the odds point to Beebe securing another submission win and advancing to the next stage of the Bellator Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament. Beebe via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 1
Wilson Reis vs. Eduardo Dantas: Returning tough-as-nails Wilson Reis will look to find new fame and fortune in a lower weight class. With a 5-3 record under the Bellator banner, Reis seeks a return to the old form that saw him capture the title of Elite XC Bantamweight Champion and steamroll his previous opponents. Dantas is a newcomer to Bellator who spent his entire career within his native Brazil and is now preparing to make his debut on US soil. With an opponent of Reis’ talent this could be the toughest challenge to the young career of Dantas. Reis, however, has suffered two defeats to “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (9-1) and the latest was a one-sided knockout. If Reis hasn’t fully moved on from that loss, Dantas could have an ace in the hole as the fight wears on and he stays in Reis’ face. On the other hand if Reis has moved on and has new found power at 135lbs., fans could see the most dangerous Reis to date – a lighter frame with all that aggression and strength is going to be a nightmare for the division. Reis’ key to victory is to just bring the fight and utilize his well-rounded skill set wherever the fight goes. With his most dangerous tool being his ground-and-pound and punishing wrestling, Reis will likely work for the clinch then drag Dantas to the mat, where he will make a long night for the Brazilian. Reis via Unanimous Decision
Joe Warren vs. Alexis Vila: The humble and wise Alexis Vila against the young, brash, and trash talking Joe Warren in the main event will provide a classic bad blood fight that should leave the fans wanting more. The 40-year-old Vila, a veteran of several regional promotions in Florida, will finally have his chance at the big time in Bellator. Warren, the current 145lbs. champion, is looking to have another “I told you so” run toward the bantamweight title, but first he has to pay his dues through a tournament format. Warren is a wrestler through-and-through and typically comes into the cage charging like a stud bull looking for a flashy win. Vila, on the other hand, is a smart fighter who has a half-dozen TKO victories to his credit. In order for Vila to avoid being taken to the mat and smothered for the duration of the fight, he will have to find the right range with his jab and kicks. Warren may try and soothe his ego by attempting to strike with Vila, but after being tagged a handful of times by the Floridian, Warren will almost certainly revert to his wheelhouse and go for the takedown. The Bellator Featherweight Champion has dug himself a deep hole with all his trash talk Alexis Vila as well and being the self-proclaimed “baddest man on the planet”. Now, Warren needs to put up or shut up, and surely Vila will be more than willing to prompt the latter. Fans worldwide come out the winner either way, as grudge matches always prove entertaining. Vila via TKO (Punches), Round 2