Mixed martial arts invaded the night life of Atlantic City, New Jersey last night with a stacked card that suffered several hiccups in regards to the supporting bouts, but nonetheless did not disappoint. Headlined by a superfight between Bellator Middleweight Champion “Shango” Hector Lombard (27-2) and “Niko” Falaniko Vitale (27-9) and a supporting lightweight title contender bout between Season 4 finalists “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-1) and Michael Chandler (8-0), the card made promises of a stellar night of fights from the outset. Despite a bantamweight fight between Anthony Morrison (14-9) and Byran Goldsby (14-9) being cancelled due to Morrison missing weight by an astonishing 10lbs., the premium MMA organization from Chicago still had more than enough talent on its undercard to make good on those promises. “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (30-4) made his return to the cage against rising middleweight star Brett Cooper (12-6) and kicked off the night with a middleweight qualifying match that was followed by a pair of bouts that were every bit as exciting as the fans have come to expect from Bellator.
Falaniko Vitale vs. Hector Lombard: Lombard via KO (Punch), Round 3, 0:54
Patricky Freire vs. Michael Chandler: Chandler via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27), Round 3, 5:00
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper: Shlemenko via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
The historic setting of Atlantic City, New Jersey, known for its casinos and night life, will host Bellator 44 tomorrow night with a locked and loaded main card that is perhaps the organization’s best offering to date. Even after the loss of “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2) to a hamstring injury last week that caused his fight with “The Handler” Dan Hornbuckle (18-4) to be put on hold, the card remains stacked with fighters known for their exciting styles. Bryan Goldsby (14-9) and Anthony Morrison (14-9) kick off the main card with a bantamweight fight that guarantees the winner the final spot in the Season 5 tournament, proceeded by returning title contender and self-proclaimed “pure striker” Russian-born kickboxer “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (29-4) meeting former welterweight Brett Cooper (12-5) who has found new life at a more natural weight of 185lbs. Then, Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament finalist “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-0) will meet Mike Chandler Jr. (7-0) for the title of tournament champion and to earn his place as the next man in line for reigning 155lbs. champion Eddie Alvarez’s (21-2) belt. The trio of promising bouts will prime the pump for an explosive main event superfight in the middleweight division pitting UFC, Strikeforce, and SUPERBRAWL veteran “Niko” Falaniko Vitale (27-8) against the dangerous king of the Bellator middleweight division “Shango” Hector Lombard (26-2). Vitale’s slick Jiu-Jitsu may be enough to end one of the longest win streaks in MMA, but he will have to get past Lombard’s aggressive sweet science first or end his night sleeping on the canvas.
The recently announced Bellator Fighting Championships Featherweight “Summer Series” Tournament begins May 14 with perhaps their most stacked card to date. The event will take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey and also hosts a middleweight elimination match to determine who will grace the Season 5 Tournament as Bellator Season 2 Middleweight Tournament winner and title challenger “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (29-4) steps back into the cage against Brett Cooper (12-5).
After three solid seasons of tournaments and signing mixed martial artists from across the globe, Bellator Fighting Championship (BFC) is building itself a roster of talent filled divisions. The organization is gaining the signatures of not only high level fighters but, in what distinguishes them from other big promotions, is also giving the young guns a shot at a championship belt. There are, however, a slew of prospective Bellator fighters that could help the promotion bulk up its roster with top notch competitors and potentially launch the organization into the big show.
In most major sports, the acquisition of fresh talent is handled in the draft. In this three part series, MMA Gospel will discuss what fighters should be Bellator’s top selections if MMA had such an institution. From the up-and-coming to the experienced gunslingers of MMA, here is a potential draft listing of fan favorites and showstoppers that would prove beneficial for both the fighter and Bellator to be added to the index. Up first are the women, bantamweights and featherweights.