So anybody notice that I mentioned Bellator yesterday? You did? And you didn’t comment about how splendiferous Bellator is, and how much you like watching the fights, and in general how witty and good looking we are here at CagePotato?
Well that’s just rude. I’m inclined to not even bother running down the other two tourneys planned for this season. Really, it’s like you don’t care.
Oh, alright. Come on in and we’ll have coffee and talk. But no staying over.
We covered the bantamweight and welterweight tournament lineups yesterday, but Bellator’s fifth season will also feature fighters in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions, with some returning contenders and some fresh faces.
When Jared Hess ruined his knee fighting Alexander Shlemenko, he had to go through hours of grueling physical therapy. Not to be outdone, I spent a few hours in therapy myself, because that shit was disturbing. And when he returned to fighting at Bellator 42 against Chris Bell, I made one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever written (to me, at least): “Jared Hess is so tough that the production crew played Anita Ward as Chris Bell’s entrance music.”
Hess faces another Bellator favorite, Bryan Baker, who is kinda tough himself: dude was fighting in Bellator tournaments while going through chemotherapy treatments and still almost won the whole damn thing. He returned at Bellator 43, knocked out Joe Riggs, and then proposed to his girlfriend on television. Basically, whoever wins this fight gets a hole punched in his “Certified Badass” card.
Alexander Shlemenko returns as well after unsuccessfully challenging Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard, and meets DREAM veteran Zelg Galesic in the quarterfinals. Galesic dropped two submission losses in DREAM (to Kazushi Sakuraba and Ronaldo Souza) before rebounding with a KO win over some poor English chap named Lee Chadwick.
Vitor Vianna makes his Bellator debut against “Smilin’” Sam Alvey, who picked up a split decision win over Karl Amoussou in a tournament qualifier in May. Vianna, who trains in Vegas with the Wand Fight Team, is 10-1-1, with his only loss due to an injury TKO (broken arm) against Thiago Silva.
Brian “The Predator” Rogers and Victor O’Donnell round out the 185 brackets. O’Donnell almost made it into the TUF house during the eleventh season (Ortiz vs Liddell), but was outpointed by Chris Camozzi. You may remember that Camozzi didn’t make it through the season either… because O’Donnell broke his jaw. Rogers enters the tournament on a hot streak, having defeated his last six opponents via KO or TKO in the first round. So look for these two guys to hit each other a lot.
Bryan Baker vs Jared Hess
Alexander Shlemenko vs Zelg Galesic
Vitor Vianna vs Sam Alvey
Brian Rogers vs Victor O’Donnell
Looks like Bellator is going to try to find some more big men to challenge Cole Konrad, the man-mountain that I never say nice things about. I should really stop that. Here goes: Cole Konrad does really nice interviews. He seems like a really decent fella.
Ok, on to the tournament….
Neil “Goliath” Grove and Mike “300″ Hayes both participated in the first heavyweight tourney in season 3: Grove lost in the finals to Konrad, and Hayes dropped a split decision to Alexey Oleinik. Grove is a big dude and has a nasty habit of knocking his opponents out (all eleven of his wins came out of his fists), but Hayes has never been finished. First time for eveything? I think Goliath has got this one.
Ron “The Monster” Sparks joins the fray, currently 7-0 and ready for a step up in competition. I am a bit amused that Jonathan Ivey took him to decision, but I guess everyone has a bad night, right? Sparks will face Mark Holata, a regional fighter who is 2-0 under the Bellator banner, including a submission (due to strikes) win over Tracy Willis in April.
Blagoi Ivanov is a Bulgarian Sambo specialist, and you should really be excited about seeing him. While still barely into his MMA career, Ivanov holds a win over Kazuyuki “Ironhead” Fujita — a fight in which Ivanov broke both his hands. (Hey, they don’t call him “Ironhead” for nothin’.) Oh, and he also won the 2008 World Sambo Championships, defeating a Russian guy by the name of Fedor Emelianenko in the semifinals. He’ll face Thiago “Big Monster” Silva, a heavy-handed BJJ black belt who has been out for a year due to unrevealed injuries.
Abe Wagner, another guy that got bounced out of the TUF house (he lost a decision to Jon Madsen), has had mixed results lately. After a quick win over a grossly out of shape Tim Sylvia, Wagner was submitted by Aaron Rosa, then got back in the win column with a submission win of his own. Now 10-4, Wagner meets Eric Prindle in the quarters. Prindle, a US Army vet, has a submission win on his record, but don’t let that fool you: the other guy tapped to strikes. Not that he’s not learning some subs — Prindle is currently training at Team DeathClutch with guys like Rodrigo Medeiros and Erik Paulson.
Neil Grove vs Mike Hayes
Mark Holata vs Ron Sparks
Blagoi Ivanov vs Thiago Santos
Eric Prindle vs Abe Wagner
Now, comment, you bastards.
Oh, and have a safe and happy weekend.
PS Don’t forget about ONE.