Tonight the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida will host what is perhaps Bellator Fighting Championship’s most impressive card of the season. Reigning Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (20-2) is coming off a minor injury that sidelined him at Bellator 54 and he is finally meeting Season 4 lightweight tournament winner Michael Chandler (8-0). With the 155lbs. title up for grabs in the marquis event, only a solid main card can shoulder the weight and who better to do so than Bellator Middleweight Champion and powerhouse striker “Shango” Hector Lombard (28-2)? Fresh off his submission victory over “JT Money” Jesse Taylor (14-5) at AFC 2, Lombard meets UFC, Strikeforce, IFL, and Bodog Fight veteran and Shark Fights Light Heavyweight Champion Trevor Prangley (23-7). The non-title fight will be at a catchweight of 195lbs. Lombard’s current win streak of 20 is the longest active streak in the MMA world and the South African fighter will try to end it doing what no man has done, stop the man called “Shango”. Former Sengoku Featherweight Champion and Featherweight tournament finalist “The Monster from Rio” Marlon Sandro (19-3) is returning to the cage after his knockout loss to tournament winner Pat Curran (15-4) and is looking to rebound by taking on WEC veteran submission fighter Rafael Dias (16-8). Women’s MMA will kick off the action as “JAG” Jessica Aguilar (11-4) looks to take revenge against the woman who handed her her first defeat, Lisa Ward (14-5).
Oklahoma gets a second dose of Bellator Fighting Championships when the organization returns to the Sooner State for Bellator 40 tonight with a main event superfight between welterweight champion Ben Askren (7-0) and UFC, bodogFIGHT, Strikeforce, Sengoku, and Elite XC veteran “The Goat” Nick Thompson (38-12). Askren will have his hands full with this seasoned fighter, and Thompson is coming to fight for the 15 minutes that three of Askren’s four Bellator bouts have lasted. Opening the night for the champ will be the second pair of semi-final tournament bouts. Welterweight semi-finalists step in first as Brent Weedman (18-5) takes on former UFC and Strikeforce fighter and former IFL Welterweight Champion “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (17-4) with the winner moving on to face undefeated Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (11-0) in the tournament finals. Then former semi-pro boxer and heavy handed striker Lloyd Woodard (11-0) takes on Strikeforce veteran and quick finisher Michael Chandler (6-0) in the lightweight semi-finals with the winner slated against ”Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-0). Overall the night should promise another evening of excellent Bellator action for the fans.
The city of Uncasville will see Bellator Fighting Championships make its first stop in Connecticut tonight when the regional promotion turned national TV MMA sensation arrives for Bellator 39. Hosting the event is the Mohegan Sun and attending will be a house full of fans of the Northeast native and Bellator Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez (19-2). Alvarez will defend his title for the first time against Season 2 winner and perennial underdog contender Pat Curran (12-3). After an injury during training early last year, Curran had to sit out and recover on the side lines while Alvarez continued his reign as the promotion’s best lightweight. Now after a full recovery and months back into his training, Curran is ready to challenge the champion and looks to upset yet another fighter with the title of champion being the prize.
Tonight, the world’s second most powerful force in MMA visits Columbus, Ohio for Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson. While the MMA world is frustrated over the delay of the continuation of the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix, Scott Coker and his promotional team keep moving along, providing cards that serve up the very best Strikeforce has to offer in the meantime. Tonight, the California-based promotion gives the fans a pair of title fights and a couple of fan pleasing brawls to provide the primer. As is the promotion’s tradition the under card features 11 Ohio native fighters showcasing their skills for the hometown crowd. Let’s take a closer look at the main card to be aired on Showtime.
Tomorrow night the UFC brings its fans an astounding night of mixed martial arts action with UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort. The stacked card features former WEC fighter “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) taking on British slugger Paul Kelly (11-3), submission expert Miguel Torres (37-3) making his UFC debut against fellow former WEC bantamweight Antonio Banuelos (18-6), top contenders “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0) and “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1) in a light heavyweight tilt, International Fight League (IFL) and BodogFIGHT veteran Jake Ellenberger (22-5) squaring off against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0), and in the main event, “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4) makes a record breaking eighth title defense, this time against dangerous striker “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (19-8). One of the more thought-provoking fights on this card though is a light heavyweight clash between two former champions: Forrest Griffin (17-6) and “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5). Griffin and Franklin are two very capable fighters that also happen to be two of the most popular fighters on the UFC’s roster – they’re also incredibly evenly matched, thus making it difficult to predetermine the ultimate outcome of this main card bout. Let’s have a crack at it.
This Saturday the UFC presents the fans with UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort from its home stomping grounds at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card features the biggest threat to “The Spider” Anderson Silva’s (27-4) middleweight crown to date as he takes on the blistering hand speed and undeniable power of “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (19-8), as well as a host of other great match-ups. Forrest Griffin (17-6) will be making his long awaited return to the Octagon against the man that Silva took the middleweight title from in 2006, “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5), and light heavyweight superstar “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-0) will put his undefeated record on the line against the man Bruce Buffer called “the next Muhammad Ali”, “Bones” Jon Jones (11-1). Also in action are former WEC warriors “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (12-4) and Miguel Torres (37-3) as they make their UFC debuts against Paul Kelly (11-3) and Antonio Banuelos (18-6), respectively. The last main card combatants are the NCAA wrestling coach “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (22-5) and his opponent, the deadly submission fighter Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0). The match is a test for both men, as Ellenberger saved his reputation by defeating up-and-coming prospects and Rocha is just such a prospect looking to send a message to the rest of the welterweight division.
The Ultimate Fighter 12 alum and Alaska native “The Deadliest Catch” Cody McKenzie (12-0) is one of several up-and-coming stars and TUF stand-outs featured on this Saturday’s UFC Fight for the Troops 2 card. McKenzie faces UFC, PRIDE, Elite XC, and BoDogFIGHT veteran and founder of “Thug Jitsu” Yves Edwards (39-16-1) in one of two preliminary bouts featured on a Facebook live stream – those who “like” the UFC on the social networking site can access the live stream Saturday night.
McKenzie’s professional MMA career barely spans four years and already the lightweight has racked up a dozen consecutive victories as well as a successful stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Furthermore, his last nine fights were won by first round submission with McKenzie’s special brand of modified Guillotine Choke, now dubbed “The McKenzietine”. The TUF alum has spent an astonishingly short cumulative total of 24 minutes and 16 seconds in the cage throughout his entire career, finishing 11 of his 12 opponents in the first stanza and allowing just one to make it to almost the halfway point of the second.
The year 2010 showcased a wealth of fights and events for the mixed martial arts world to marvel over. “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) defeated one of the greatest lightweights of all time in “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-1). Boxing great “Lights Out” James Toney (0-1) stepped into the the cage to face UFC Hall of Famer “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-10) in what was intended to determine the superior combat sport, MMA or boxing. Couture pummeled Toney for nearly three minutes of pure fan delight before submitting him via Arm Triangle Choke. The MMA world was shaken and the heavyweight rankings sent into a state of disarray when the top ranked “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) was handed his first legitimate loss via first round submission to Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1).
To follow up with the 2009 roster exchange agreement between the Strikeforce, DREAM, and M-1 Global MMA promotions, the UFC ended 2010 with the intake of the WEC organization. With all the memorable fights and events that have taken place in the last 12 months, 2011 is the year where prospects can become contenders, fighters inflicted with injury or tribulations return to fight their way to a title, and champions become legends.
Here are some of the top fighters to look out for in 2011.