The Bellator Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament started off with a big bang at the Canton Civic Center in Ohio, with two solid knockouts and two hard fought bouts that saw the judges’ scorecards. Nonetheless it was the fans who were treated to yet another group of solid performances from Bellator’s ever growing talent pool. Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (7-2), in an effort to become the promotion’s first fighter to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously, drew undefeated Alexis Vila (9-0) as his foe for the 135lbs. tournament marquis match-up. Returning Bellator veteran Wilson Reis (12-4) took on Shooto Brazil vet Eduardo Dantas (6-2) in the co-main event in a veteran versus rising star affair. Former WEC champion “The Rage” Chase Beebe (18-6) and “Loro” Marcos Galvao (10-5) returned to the cage for their second time under the Bellator banner. “Wild” Ed West (15-5) made his long awaited comeback to Bellator against Brazilian’s Luis Nogueira (11-2) in the opening bout of tournament. Here’s how the main card played out.
Ed West vs. Luis Nogueira: After Friday’s Bellator 51 weigh-ins when Nogueira got in West’s face and West refused to back down, this main card opening match-up was one of the most anticipated. “Wild” Ed West made his long awaited return to competition following his loss to current Bellator Bantamweight Champion “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (12-3) at the conclusion of Season 3 in October 2010. Luis Nogueria came into his Season 5 quarter-finals bout riding high on a seven-fight win streak and knew he would benefit highly with Ed West’s name on his resume. The fight played out in a manner that many believe would favor Nogueira when West chose to stand and trade. However, West kept his distance from Nogueira with slick punching combos and crippling leg kicks. Nogueira tried his best to gain the upper hand by clinching West and firing strong winging punches that were nowhere close to landing. West proved the time off hasn’t been a factor, as his striking and wrestling were greatly improved and benefited from his new arsenal of kicks. Nogueira did have his moments where he landed flush, but West never panicked and took the fight to the ground whenever he saw the opening to do so and cruised to a solid victory. West via Unanimous Decision
Chase Beebe vs. Marcos Galvao: In a battle between WEC veterans and men that both want revenage against Joe Warren, Beebe and Galvao had more than a victory on the line. The match was a back-and-forth fight not only on the ground as expected but also on the feet. Both Beebe and Galvao chained submissions one after the other, each time escaping the goodnight holds. Galvao was slowly gaining the upper hand over Beebe on the ground and slipping in more strikes on the feet. The opening frame went tit f0r tat with both fighters escaping multiple submissions and getting their fair share of punches in, but as the fight progressed Galvao, whose cardio outlasted that of the former WEC champ, gained the edge on the ground and was able box his way to a victory in the third. Galvao via Split Decision
Wilson Reis vs. Eduardo Dantas: Young rising star Eduardo Dantas was thrown into the lion’s den against fellow Brazilian and seasoned veteran Wilson Reis. Dantas came out putting on the pressure on Reis, using his reach and quick strikes to stay in Reis’ face and beat him to the punch. Reis seemed to be having a hard time finding his groove early on in the fight and it wasn’t until later in the round that Reis was able to get the clinch and use his shorter frame against the taller and leaner Dantas. The first round was a tough one for Reis from bell to bell as Dantas controlled the fight with his jab and solid leg kicks. In Round 2, Dantas clipped Reis was a knee and threw him off-balance. He stumbled away from Dantas’ range but Dantas smelled blood and bolted at the veteran. Leaping into the air with a flying knee that connected flush on Reis’ chin and dropped him, Dantas finished then him with ground-and-pound. Dantas via KO (Flying Knee), Round 2
Click here to see the full list of results for Bellator 51 and the Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament Quarter-Finals.