Bellator is a different type of MMA promotion, because they like to run tournaments that determine the true number one contenders of a division. Heading into their seventh season they have announced three out of the four tournaments that will be held during the season. The tournaments are for featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight. Here is the tournaments and fighters announced so far.
In the first match, former UFC fighter Diego nunes takes on Bellator tournament veteran Patricio Freire. Freire will have a lot to prove taking on a former UFC fighter, but Nunes was once considered a top ten fighter in the 145 pound division.
Next, New York native and decision machine Desmond Green is facing off with Fabricio Da Silva. Green is not a finisher having taken six of his eight wins by decision, and that is the opposite of Silva who has had 12 submission victories so far. Green will have the momentum on his side though, because Silva lost his last fight by submission.
After winning season seven, Shahbulat Shamhalaev took on Pat Curran for the title, but he lost in the first round. Now, he is looking for redemption when he faces off with Akop Stepanyan who is a striking master. Stepanyan took his last fight impressively with a kick to the body.
Bellator newcomer Andrew FIsher enters the tournament on the strength of a six fight win streak, and he has earned three straight knockouts in his last three fights. His opponent, Joe Taimanglo, is on the opposite end of the spectrum having won nine straight fights, but six of those nine fights have come by submission. This will definitely be a clash of styles.
Former UFC fighter Marcus Davis has one last shot at glory to get a title, because he has entered the Bellator season 9 lightweight tournament. He will face off with Alexander Sarnavskiy who won his first fight int he lightweight tournament last year, but an injury forced him to leave the tournament. Both are looking for redemption but for different reasons.
Another veteran looking to prove himself will be John Alessio who has been trying for years to win in the Octagon, but his efforts have proved fruitless so far. He will have to face up with another young up and comer in Will Brooks who had a rough go of things last year. Brooks was the odds on favorite to win the tournament last season, but a knockout at the hands of Saad Awad took him out of the match.
Speaking of Awad, he had a good shot of winning last season’s tournament final, but a failure to get up quickly after the second round cost him the fight. One would hate to be Martin Stapleton, who despite his 12-1 record will have an angry Awad on the other end of the cage. With four straight first round finishes in his last four wins that is someone who knows how to end a fight quick.
Even though he had announced his retirement, Rich Clementi is back for another shot at glory. Nearly a year from his last bout, he says to be fully healed from all the injuries that held him back. He faces off with Rob Sinclar whose most recent win came over TUF runner up Andre Winner, and had knocked out his previous four opponents beforehand.
Brett Cooper’s chin failed him again in the season 8 tournament final against Doug Marshall. Hopefully, he has fixed that problem, because he is facing off with an excellent striker in Andreas Spang. With kickboxing and boxing matches in his past, Spang made the transition to MMA, and has something in common with Cooper since he was knocked out by Marshall as well.
Dan Cramer may have started his career in the UFC, but he has made a name for himself in Bellator. After a 6-1 stretch with the promotion he entered the last season’s tournament but was felled by Brett Cooper. He will need to use his wrestling to get past Perry Filkins who has won by knockout in six out of his seven wins.
Mikkel Parlo was on an undefeated hot streak until he faced off with fellow undefeated fighter Sultan Aliev. While he was not finished, he still did lose a decision to Aliev. His opponent may be getting his last chance in a Bellator tournament, because he has lost the last three times he entered. Brian Rogers is always dangerous standing though having finished people with his hands, elbows, and knees.
The last match of the Middleweight tournament pits the oldest fighter in the tournament against an outmatched BJJ brown belt. Jason Butcher is a 6-0 with five of his six wins by submission, but it is hard to rely on your grappling skills when facing off with Giva Santana. When your nickname is the arm collector, you know you have some great grappling skills.