Bellator’s first event on Spike TV will take place Thursday, January 17th, at the University of California’s Bren Center in Irvine, California, and will be headlined by a pair of title fights. The promotion confirmed the news today, revealing that undefeated phenom Michael Chandler will make his first official lightweight title defense at the event (aka Bellator 85) against Rick Hawn, the 14-1 Olympic judoka who won the Season 5 lightweight tournament earlier this year.
Also on the card, featherweight champion Pat Curran — who’s 4-0 since dropping to 145 and is coming off his near-murder of Joe Warren — will be putting his belt on the line against explosive contender Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Though Freire won all three of his fights in 2011, winning the Season 4 featherweight tournament, he wasn’t able to compete in 2012, partly due to injuries.
And that’s not all. During a Bellator/Spike TV conference call held earlier today, many more details about Bellator 85 and the promotion’s upcoming eighth season were announced. For instance…
- Season 8 will last 12 weeks, and will feature five tournaments in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
- Via MMAJunkie: “[Bellator 85] will feature Seth Petruzelli and Mike Guymon, plus the Bellator debut of Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral in the light heavyweight tourney against Russian Mikhail Zayats.” UFC vets Jason Lambert and Hector Ramirez are also scheduled to compete.
- Bellator 86 will take place the following week, January 24th, at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and will feature Ben Askren‘s latest title defense against Karl Amoussou, King Mo vs. TBA, and welterweight fights featuring Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima.
- The postponed Season 7 featherweight tournament final between Rad Martinez and Shahbulat Shamhalaev will happen sometime in Season 8, since Martinez has to take care of his father this weekend. (You can learn more about that here, if you want to feel sad for the rest of the day.)