8-2 regional warrior Kenny “The Tooth Fairy” Foster got his name in the lineup with a win on the Bellator XXXIII undercard over Lester Caslow. Foster jumped into MMA competition with only his amateur wrestling background to carry him, and moved back to his native New York to train with Team Bomb Squad. Training there helped him develop a powerful striking style, and Foster insists that he’s a striker first, grappler second, pointing out that his submission wins developed after he’d dropped his opponents with strikes. Foster is aggressive and heavy-handed, which could lead to a very entertaining quarterfinal bout.
(That’s no mean mug, that’s really just Warren’s normal expression. PicProps: Bellator.com)
We bid you good morning, Potato Nation, and we present you with our second installment of preview materials for the upcoming Bellator tournaments, this time running down the 145ers set to do battle in March. By now you should know that Bellator will be airing live on Saturdays on MTV2, so we’re really going to stop telling you. But don’t come crying to us when your DVR doesn’t magically start recording the fights in the new time slot, all teary-eyed with your bare face hanging out, asking us what went on and who advanced, because we totally won’t even tell you.
Sorry about that. Listen, go grab some coffee, and venture in past the jump for introductions and videos for all eight featherweights confirmed for the brackets.
Who the hell is Zac “The Red Devil” George? Counting his amateur boxing and kickboxing records, Zac “The Red Devil” George is 55-5 in combat sports (20-3 MMA)– that’s a hell of a lot of experience. He’s managed to stay under pretty much everyone‘s radar by making an unfortunate choice, when he signed a one year, three-fight deal with Shine Fights– you know, the clusterfucktacular that makes StrikeForce look as predictable as that one old dude at the club. George earned his release from that contract last summer, after a nine month stall in his career. He hasn’t had one since, either, meaning it’s now been sixteen months since his last fight. But George fully expects to sweep the field; “There is no ‘if’ in my mind,” he says. Keep an eye out for ring rust in the quarters, but if George settles in, he could well go deep into this tournament.
?(The video’s not great, but DAMN…)
Eric Larkin is one of Bellator’s exciting new prospects, despite his relative inexperience at 3-0. A highly decorated Division I wrestler with more accomplishments than we are willing to type for you assholes, Larkin has won all three fights (including his Bellator debut at BFC XXVIII) by first round stoppage. Larkin is a bit raw in the stand-up department, but still puts good power into his punches. Most encouragingly, he shows an aptitude for an aggressive ground game aimed at submissions. Look for him to go deep into the tourney.
“Insane” Georgi Karakhanyan returns for another shot at the Bellator tourney, after losing in season 2 to eventual winner (and current champ) Joe Warren. Karakhanyan is quick on his feet with sharp fists and knees, and technically proficient on the ground, including on his back, but it is his cardio and drive that impress. Even in losing to Warren at Bellator XVIII, Karakhayan did not slow down in his search for a submission hold to tap Warren or a knee strike to starch him, right up to the closing bell. Look for Karakhanyan to ride that boundless energy and overwhelm his opponent, or go out on his shield. Either way he’ll be fun to watch.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire also returns for the season 4 tournament, after dropping a split decision to Joe Warren in the finals of season 2. The 23 year old Team Nogueira prospect is now 14-1, and looks to rebound quickly. Patricio Pitbull is a speed demon, both on the feet and on the ground. He transitions extremely well, and will usually dictate where the fight will take place. Already having a win over fellow contestant Wilson Reis should bolster his confidence–expect Freire to make some noise.
Daniel Straus has been busy since turning pro just two years ago, already amassing a 14-3 record; plus he’ll carry some momentum into the tournament riding a 10-fight win-streak. Straus took a decision win over Chad Hinton on the undercard of Bellator XXIII at 155, then went out and punched Joe Pearson into submission and out pointed Karen Darabedyan in other promotions to close out his summer. Straus counts heart as his best attribute, and will look to outwork his opponents, particularly on the ground, where he uses aggressive wrestling at a fast pace.
Wilson Reis has been here before; as a matter of fact, Reis ties with middleweight champ Hector Lombard for most fights for Bellator at six. With wins over everyone from Abel Cullum to Zach Makovsky, Reis has been a perennial contender in Bellator’s 145 pound division, but his two losses have both come under the BFC banner. Reis was out pointed by season one champ Joe Soto at Bellator VI and by Patricio Freire at Bellator XVIII, leaving him to fight his way back into tournament contention each time. Reis is a five foot ball of muscle with solid boxing and a powerful, accomplished ground game, but he’s had difficulty with quick opponents. It will be interesting to see how he holds up in a more talented bantamweight field.
Nazareno “Naza” Malegarie is another intriguing prospect in the field this year. The 24 year old Argentine holds an eye-popping 19-0 record fighting in southern Brazil, where he trains with UFC 155er Thiago Tavares at Duplo Ataque. While his competition hasn’t been top-shelf thus far, Malegarie has 5 KOs and 12 submissions– that’s like, a 112% finish rate or something, for those math-challenged of you out there. Melagerie is a real wild-card, and we’ll be glued to the set when he makes his quarterfinal debut.