Bellator launches its second Summer Series tonight at the Mountaineer Casino and Resort in Chester, West Virgina. The division in the limelight this go-around is the eventful light heavyweight class and its contenders seeking Bellator championship gold. IFC and Shark Fight veteran Roy Boughton (8-2) makes his Bellator debut against another newcomer to the promotion – MFC and Shark Fight veteran “The Hardcore Kid” Emanuel Newton (17-6). Bellator veteran “Rare Breed” Rich Hale (19-4) was set to return to the tournament but illness has prevented him from competing so a late replacement in Tim Carpenter (8-1) will welcome submission handy Beau Tribolet (7-1) to the cage. One of the sport’s most experienced fighters, “Diesel” Travis Wiuff (66-14), is on a quest for the 205lbs. title but in his way is former Marine and knockout artist “The Professional” Chris Davis (10-3) who has finished all ten of his opponents before the final bell. Former Bellator middleweight “Benkei” Zelg Galesic (11-6) makes his light heavyweight debut against KSW veteran “Pumukli” Attila Vegh (25-4). Vegh has finished 19 of his 25 opponents, by both strikes and submissions. In addition to the Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarter-Finals, Strikeforce veteran “Da Grim” Brett Rogers (11-4) takes on Brutaal fight journeyman “Concrete” Kevin Asplund (15-1).
Brett Rogers vs. Kevin Asplund: Once a feared monster of a man with dynamite hands, Brett Rogers has had a rough couple years. Going 1-4-1 in his last six fights, getting in trouble with the law, and trying to find a promotion to call home have stung him deep. Rogers will get a chance to return to the winner’s circle in a major promotion against Kevin Asplund, a fighter as dangerous as Rogers himself. Heavy hands and a solid submission game have earned him 11 finishes in his career. A win over Rogers will boost Asplund’s stock due to the Strikeforce veteran’s recognizable name, but “Da Grim” isn’t going down without a fight. Rogers’ only chance to win is to keep the fight standing, keep it close, and finish quickly. The Achilles’ Heel of Rogers is the ground game so Asplund may look to overwhelm him with pressuring strikes, however, to do so Asplund will have to eat a few as well. All Rogers needs is one punch to cripple Asplund like he has 9 of his 11 defeated opponents. If “Concrete’s” chin doesn’t live up to his moniker, that will be a serious issue, especially given the five inches of reach and 30+ lbs. of mass he gives up to Rogers. If Asplund can’t get in close and get Rogers to the ground he will have to stay on the outside and pick him apart with rapid in-and-out attacks. Unfortunately, this plays right into the kind of striking game Rogers likes. Without constant pressure to throw him off, Rogers will shrug off the punishment and wait for an opportunity to time Asplund coming in. Then he will back him to the cage and force him to fight in the pocket where Asplund can’t avoid the bombs. Rogers via KO (Punch), Round 1
Zelg Galesic vs. Attila Vegh: Kickboxer Zelg Galesic and well-rounded fighter Attila Vegh will battle at 205lbs. for a spot in the tourney semi-finals. Like the other six light heavies, the tournament is on their minds, but this fight has much more riding on it for both men than just a victory. Galesic has recently gotten back to the winner’s circle at SFL 3 with a flying knee KO but is 2-3 in his last five fights. Vegh is a young contender from Slovakia and hasn’t lost a fight since October of 2010. Both men have a statement to make that they can defeat tougher competition and rock the house with entertaining fights. Galesic, a former middleweight, is hoping to have more success at 205 in Bellator while “Pumukli” is hoping to do better than the razor thin decision in his Bellator debut at Bellator 66. Galesic always comes to fight even when he is behind on the scorecards, while Vegh has a strong record and has faced under-the-radar fighters but has cut his teeth in a well-respected promotion. Galesic will likely prefer to stay on the outside, kick the legs of his opponent and mix in a head kick or two to keep Vegh on his heels, but if Vegh gets in too close he could give Galesic trouble with his superior wrestling if he gets a hold of him. Vegh via Split Decision
Travis Wiuff vs. Chris Davis: Travis Wiuff is riding high in the spotlight for the first time in many years. Wiuff has posted four wins since his last loss, two of those being under the Bellator banner and one a victory over current champion “Tonton” Christian M’Pumbu (18-4) that caused earthquakes throughout the division. Chris Davis is returning to the cage for the first time since his loss to M’Pumbu and is looking to knock off the multi-promotional veteran in his quest for a rematch with the champ. Davis has had an exciting career but his stint in Bellator hasn’t been as fruitful as he intended and now he has the perfect chance to make this right. Brought in as a warm-up fight for the newly-minted champion, Wiuff took matters into his own hands and walked away with the win. However, Wiuff has been upset by lesser known competition in the past. If Davis can bite the bullet and bring it to Wiuff, it could be another upset loss on Wiuff’s record courtesy of his habit of underestimating opponents. Wiuff, however, is a big light heavyweight fighter, can take the fight anywhere and finish, and his wrestling is solid enough to keep the fight wherever he wants it. Neither Davis nor Wiuff are afraid to strike or go to the mat, but Davis has shown signs to slow down late in the fight. If Wiuff can keep the fight going and drag Davis into deeper waters, “The Professional” may be in big trouble. Wiuff via Unanimous Decision
Tim Carpenter vs. Beau Tribolet: Tim Carpenter saves the day by stepping in for the ill Rich Hale as a tourney quarter-finalist. Carpenter was last seen at Bellator 54 scoring a TKO win in the opening round against Ryan Contaldi (7-5) . Carpenter may lack a high number KO/TKO finishes on his record but he has the grit to grind out three full rounds wherever the fight goes. His tall frame will give him a good reach advantage over Tribolet and the familiar cage will surely help out the four-time Bellator veteran. Tribolet may be making his Bellator debut but his record shows that he brings a strong all-around game to the table. Carpenter should be able to control the action, but his lack of finishing ability on the feet will grant Tribolet plenty of opportunity to land a fight-ending blow. Tribolet via TKO (Punches), Round 2
Roy Boughton vs. Emanuel Newton: Californians and Bellator newcomers Emanuel Newton and Roy Boughton battle for a spot in the light heavyweight tourney semi-finals. Both Newton and Boughton have gone the distance several times in their careers. thus cardio likely won’t be an issue. Neither combatant has made a statement as a striker, but they combine for 10 submission victories. Newton, however, hasn’t fought since last November while Boughton is fresh off a February win so ring rust may be a factor during the opening round for “The Hardcore Kid”. Newton has faced slightly more impressive opponents in his career and called the MFC promotion home for six of his fights, but Boughton has no intentions of letting that get into his head, making this a very interesting fight between two well-rounded light heavyweights. While the bout should be a close one, Newton sports more than twice the cage time which should give him the upper hand. Newton via Unanimous Decision