When the former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion “The Rhino” Doug Marshall (16-6) joined the Bellator ranks last year, he was largely regarded as an old dog on his last hunt. This did not sit well with the 37-year-old Visalia, California-based fighter going into his middleweight bout against “Kolohe” Kala Hose (7-6) at Bellator 82, and he responded in kind by finishing the fight via brutal knockout just 22 seconds after the opening bell. The rousing performance set up Marshall’s place in the Bellator Season 8 Middleweight Tournament Quarter-Finals where he again played the role of underdog against “Sweet Swede” Andreas Spang (8-3). The former WEC king prevailed once more, taking out the Season 6 tourney finalist with a one-punch knockout that left him crumbled on the canvas.
For years he was the talk of the MMA world, heralded for being arguably the best fighter outside the shark tank that is the UFC. Many believe he still holds the best chance in dethroning the top middleweight fighter on the planet and long-time champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (33-4). This man is former Bellator, CFC, and AFC Middleweight Champion “Lightning” Hector Lombard (32-3) who owns perhaps the most powerful strikes in the 185lbs. division, held the longest win streak at 24 victories, earned a knockout win at just six seconds of the opening round, and seems unstoppable once again after manhandling feared middleweight powerhouse “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-5) in his adopted home of Australia. MMA Gospel writer Cole Moorman goes one-on-one with the powerful striker to find out how “Lightning” is looking to strike UFC gold.
Bellator makes its debut in Braves’ Country Thursday night with a stacked card that is set to take place at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. At long last the vacant middleweight title will be up for grabs and a new king will be crowned as Season 2 and 5 tournament winner “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (46-7) returns to Bellator against Season 6 tournament victor “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (31-4). With the 185lbs. title as the main event the supporting bouts feature the Season 8 145lbs. tournament with former Sengoku Featherweight Champion “The Gladiator” Marlon Sandro (23-4) and “Sniper” Akop Stepanyan (12-4). “The Marine” Mike Richman (13-2) returns against submission expert Mitch Jackson (19-2) who is riding a seven-fight submission streak and Brazilian-born Pennsylvania native “Popo” Alexandre Bezerra (14-2) brings his 6-1 Bellator record to the table against two-time Bellator veteran “Junior PQD” Genair Da Silva (13-4).
The third tournament of Bellator’s eighth season gets under way Thursday night as the lightweights take to the cage at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan to compete for a shot at 155lbs. championship gold. XFO veteran “Il Will” Will Brooks (8-0) puts his undefeated record on the line as he makes his promotional debut against crafty Bellator veteran Ricardo Tirloni (15-3). Former welterweight “The Caveman” David Rickels (11-1) and toughman “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (12-2) will engage in a war of heavy-handed strikers as each man looks to take out the other with his fists. Top Russian lightweight “Tiger” Alexander Sarnavskiy (21-1) and Brazilian kickboxer Thiago Michel (11-3) will clash in a style-versus-style match-up between submission specialist and striker. In the main event “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (10-4) looks to get back to his winning ways when he faces XMMA veteran and Canadian knockout artist “Il Toro” Guillaume DeLorenzi (10-1). Eight contenders will step into the cage at Bellator 87 but only four will leave with a stamped ticket for the tournament semi-finals, and being that the 155lbs. division is arguably Bellator’s most dynamic, the evening is sure not to disappoint.
The WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma played host to Bellator’s most recent effort Thursday night as the Chicago-based promotion ushered in its Season 8 Welterweight Tournament, put the 170lbs. division championship title up for grabs, and debuted a promising light heavyweight to its growing roster. UFC veteran “Killa B” Ben Saunders (15-5) and Bellator newcomer “The Lion King” Koffi Adzitso (18-10) kicked off the Bellator 86 main card on Spike TV, followed by another welterweight tourney quarter-final match-up between former MFC Welterweight Champion and Season 5 tournament winner “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (23-5) and two-time tournament contender “The Lonely Wolf” Michail Tsarev (24-4). Former Strikeforce 205lbs. ruler “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (9-1) met Polish import and Bellator newcomer “Misiek” Przemyslaw Mysiala (16-8) in the co-main event. The marquee bout of the evening witnessed Bellator welterweight champ ”Funky” Ben Askren (11-0) make a successful third title defense against Season 6 tourney winner “Psycho” Karl Amoussou (16-5).
Bellator Fighting Championships brings mixed martial arts action to the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma January 24 to present the sophomore effort of both its eighth season and of its new partnership with Spike TV, Bellator 86. A pair of Season 8 Welterweight Tournament Quarter-Finals match-ups start off the night, as UFC and Bellator veteran “Killa B” Ben Saunders (14-5) looks to make a rude return to the cage against “The Lion King” Koffi Adzitso (18-9), and former MFC 170lbs. king and Season 5 tourney winner “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (22-5) takes on returning Russian submission ace “The Lone Wolf” Michail Tsarev (24-3). The co-main event sees former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (8-1) make his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a fellow debutee in the Polish submission crafted “Misiek” Przemyslaw Mysiala (16-7). Another title will be on the line as Bellator Welterweight Champion “Funky” Ben Askren (10-0) faces off against Season 6 winner “Psycho” Karl Amoussou (16-4) in a style-versus-style fight that will see one combatant walk away with bragging rights and the 170lbs. division strap.
The now infamous line “MMA comes home to Spike TV” becomes reality tonight as Bellator makes its debut on Spike TV with its 85th fight card, and does so in spectacular fashion with a pair of title fights in two of Bellator’s most talent-rich divisions: lightweight and featherweight. UFC veteran, former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, former IFC Light Heavyweight Champion, RINGS veteran, and owner of some of the most wicked tattoos in the game “Babalu” Renato Sobral (37-9) makes his debut inside the Bellator cage in the Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament against M-1 veteran and fellow Bellator newcomer Mikhail Zayats (19-6). Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran (17-4) defends his title for the first time against the dangerous “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (17-1) in a scheduled five-round bout that will likely end with a brutal finish. Bellator Lightweight Champion, the undefeated Michael Chandler (10-0), makes his first defense of his belt against the talented Judo black belt Rick Hawn (14-1) in the main event of the night.
January 19 the UFC returns to Sao Paulo, Brazil to invade the Geraldo Jose de Almeida State Gymnasium for a battle of the nations. The UFC on FX 7 main event is slated to be a title contention bout for the seemingly unattainable middleweight belt as Old Guard fighter and former UFC light heavyweight king “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (21-10) puts on a show for his native fans as he takes on England’s trash-talking top contender “The Count” Michael Bisping (23-4). Preceding the marquee match-up is TUF 7 alumni “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (12-4) battling fellow submission expert Daniel Sarafian (7-2) in front of the latter’s hometown crowd. Former heavyweight title contender and long-time UFC veteran “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6) and aptly-nicknamed IFL veteran “Big” Ben Rothwell (32-8) will go to war in the evening’s anchor bout, while opening honors go to UFC veteran Thiago Tavares (17-4) and the well-versed, undefeated “The Eagle” Khabib Nurmagomedov (18-0) to start off the night with a likely barn burner for the international audience.
On December 14 Bellator will conclude its Season 7 tournaments with a four-fight card, three of which are tournament finales. The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, Indiana marks the spot where the cage will be locked, two men will be awarded title shots at 145 and 155lbs., respectively, and the heavyweight division will have a new champion to crown. XFC veteran “Lil’ Bulldog” Felice Herrig (7-4) and “Little” Patricia Vidonic (7-3) will start the night off in a rematch that will also mark their Bellator debuts. Featherweights Rad Martinez (14-2) and “Sha” Shahbulat Shamhalaev (11-1-1) will go down after a one-week delay due to Shamhalaev coming down with food poisoning prior to Bellator 83. The lightweight tourney finale will feature two submission specialists as Marcin Held (15-2) and “The Fugitive” Dave Jensen (18-2) look to cap off successful Season 7 runs. The main event will feature “Rare Breed” Richard Hale (21-4) and “Drago” Alexander Volkov (18-3) going to war for the Bellator heavyweight belt that was left without an owner in September.
Chicago-based MMA promotion Bellator Fighting Championships makes its second stop at the Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey Friday night for Bellator 83, featuring the finale of the Bellator Season 7 Featherweight Tournament. Rad Martinez (14-2) and “Sha” Shahbulat Shamhalaev (11-1) go to war for the big paycheck and the shot at the 145lbs. championship strap in the main event. A battle between two of Ohio’s most renowned female warriors takes place as Bellator’s Women’s Champion “Warrior Princess” Zoila Frausto Gurgel (12-1) partakes in a non-title affair against the talented “Evil” Jessica Eye (8-1) in the Bellator 83 co-main event. Former Bellator Bantamweight Champion “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (14-3) returns to the Bellator stage against fellow Bellator alum Anthony Leone (11-5). Heavyweights shake up the cage first as promotional veteran “The Juggernaut” Mike Wessel (12-5) and knockout specialist Alexei Kudin (14-4) kick things off on MTV2.
It’s the first of the Bellator Season 7 Tournament finales Friday night as the welterweights wrap things up at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan with a former champion versus a young finishing machine. Former Bellator welterweight king “Cyborg” Lyman Good (14-2) and undefeated ”Spartan” Andrey Koreshkov (12-0) face off for the $100K paycheck and a Bellator title shot set for 2013. Lightweights “Tiger” Alexander Sarnavskiy (20-1) and “Lionheart” Tony Hervey (15-12) lock horns in the co-main event of the night. “Kolohe” Kala Hose (7-5) and former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion “The Rhino” Doug Marshall (14-6) fight for a last resort win to regain past glory. Season 6 Welterweight Tournament Semi-Finalist “The Caveman” David Rickels (10-1) and “The Finisher” Jason Fischer (5-0) start off the night in a possible bout of fireworks in the lightweight division.
Bellator returns to its old stomping grounds Friday night as Bellator 80′s stage is set at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The battles are getting increasingly intense as the Season 7 tournaments have thinned out and the finalists have been chosen. Former Bellator middleweight turned welterweight “Fudoshin” Brett Cooper (16-7) and Darryl Cobb (5-5) will battle it out in the 170lbs. division to start off the MTV2 card. The Brazilian knockout artist “Spartan” Vinicius Queiroz (6-2) will face Russian finishing artist ”Drago” Alexander Volkov (17-3) in the second heavyweight semi-final. IFL and WEC veteran Wagnney Fabiano (15-3) and hard-nosed Rad Martinez (13-2) battle it out in the second featherweight semi-final. In the main event of the evening former Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (7-3) returns after two knockout losses to face Owen Evinger (7-3) in a 135lbs. bout which will determine the fate of each man’s career.
Bellator 79 featured a pair of semi-final match-ups in the Season 7 Heavyweight and Featherweight Tournaments as well as two welterweight fights to treat the crowd at the Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario, Canada to a night of toe-to-toe mixed martial arts action. Heavyweights “Rare Breed” Rich Hale (21-4) and “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (11-2) squared off in the marquee bout of the evening and the first of two Season 7 heavyweight semi-final tilts. “The Marine” Mike Richman (13-2) faced “Sha” Shahbulat Shamhalaev (11-1) in the co-main event for a spot in the 145lbs. tourney finals. Former MFC Welterweight Champion and Season 5 Welterweight Tournament Champion “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (21-5) returned to action against Kobe Ortiz (13-4) at a catchweight of 180lbs. In the starting fight of the night, Canada native “The Real Deal” Ryan Ford (19-4) faced tough Bellator newcomer “Alley Cat” Kyle Baker (12-7).
Bellator makes its second stop in Canada in the Season 7 tournament, dropping in at the Casino Rama of Orillia, Ontario. A Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final match-up is designated for Friday’s Bellator 79 main event slot preceded by a second semi-final bout, in the featherweight tourney, as well as a pair of welterweight affairs featuring two well-known faces to the Rama native fans. Former MFC star “The Real Deal” Ryan Ford (18-4) returns to home soil to face “Alley Cat” Kyle Baker (12-6) with both 170lbs. contenders hoping to seal his place in the next tournament with a victory. Season 5 welterweight tourney winner and former MFC champ ”The Phenom” Douglas Lima (21-5) steps back onto his old stomping grounds against well-rounded Kobe Ortiz (13-3), who is looking for the biggest win of his career against Lima. Bellator vet ”The Marine” Mike Richman (13-1) and Russian-born Shahbulat Shamhalaev (10-1-1) battle it out in the featherweight tournament semi-finals. Finally, Brazilian heavyweight ”Big Monster” Thiago Santos (11-1) will face former 205er and KO artist “The Rare Breed” Rich Hale (20-4) in a don’t-blink style of fight.
Bellator Fighting Championships sets up shop in the Buckeye State on October 26 with Bellator 78 at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. A pair of 170lbs. tournament semi-final bouts serve as the main course while a pair of feature fights spotlighting two of Ohio’s own open up the live main card on MTV2. Featherweight tournament winner and long-time Bellator veteran Daniel Straus (20-4) has elected to take an interim fight rather than wait to face the winner of the upcoming featherweight championship match, as he welcomes to the Bellator cage four-time UFC alum “Kid” Alvin Robinson (12-6), who boasts 11 submission wins in his career. Powerhouse middleweight and two-time tournament semi-finalist “The Predator” Brian Rogers (9-4) returns to face rival Ohio native “Non-Stop Action Packed” Dominique Steele (6-2) who possesses well-rounded talents to showcase in his Bellator debut. Strikers collide in the co-main event and the first of two Season 7 Welterweight Tournament semi-final match-ups as “Spartan” Andrey Koreshkov (11-0) faces arguably his biggest challenge to date in the former DREAM 170lbs. king “The Whitemare” Marius Zaromskis (19-6). The main event features former Bellator Welterweight Champion “Cyborg” Lyman Good (13-2) against submission specialist “The Lonely Wolf” Michail Tsarev (24-2).