Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Fills Up; Champions Get Season Four Fights
Bellator Bracketology continued last week as the Chicago-based promotion announced three participants in its Light Heavyweight Tournament as well as season four championship fights and non-title superfights featuring its champs.
Nik Fekete may only have a handful of professional fights on his resume but the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler has a wealth of MMA experience. After traveling to Beijing in 2008 to serve as a training partner for the U.S. Olympic Team, Fekete moved to Las Vegas and served as a wrestling coach for a number of high profile MMA fighters and gyms. “I think 2011 is going to be a breakthrough year for me,” Fekete said in a press release. “I’ve been training my whole life and I’ve been training non-stop for more than two years in MMA. It may sound cliché, but I’m truly excited to go out there and put on a show for all of the fans in attendance, and the millions that will be watching on MTV2.”
After spending over four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Chris “The Professional” Davis will enter the circular cage in hopes of becoming the first BFC Light Heavyweight Champion. “I want to overwhelm my opponents,” said Davis in a press release. “I want them to feel within the first 45 seconds that they are well beyond their means, and they shouldn’t be in there with me. That’s the pace I go for.”
Former heavyweight D.J. “Da Protégé” Linderman will make the cut to 205 to participate in the Light Heavyweight Tournament. A regular on west coast regional circuit, Linderman holds carreer wins over Devin Cole, Mario Rinaldi, and Mike Hayes. “He had a very aggressive style at Heavyweight, so at 205, he could be a force in this tournament,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.
Fekete, Davis, and Linderman join Daniel Gracie as confirmed participants in Bellator’s inaugural Light Heavyweight Tournament. The fighters will compete for $100,000 in total pay and the right to be crowned the first Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion.
In other new, Bellator signed notable 145-pounder Ronnie Mann (#60 Featherweight). Having spent most of his career fighting in Britain and Japan, Mann will fight during season four but will not participate in the Featherweight Tournament. No match has been announced but Mann would be an appropriate opponent for a superfight with Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (#2 Featherweight).
“Ronnie is at the top of his game right now and he will have impact on our deep featherweight division,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.
At Bellator 39, Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight) will defend his title against season two tournament winner Pat Curran (#28). At 170 pounds, Bellator announced that its Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (#15 Welterweight) will returns to the cage at Bellator 40, where he will clash with UFC/Sengoku veteran Nick “The Goat” Thompson (#167). And at Bellator 41, BFC Bantamweight Champion Zach Makovsky (#11 Bantamweight) will face unranked Chad Robichaux in an non-title superfight.
Bellator Season 4 kicks off live on MTV2 at on Sat., March 5, 2011 at 9 p.m. EST from Tachi Palace Resort & Casino in Lemoore, Calif. Bellator previously announced its upcoming Featherweight and Welterweight Tournaments. The Featherweight bracket features unheralded Nazareno Melagarie, Patricio Freire (#21 Featherweight), Wilson Reis (#23), Daniel Straus (#20), Georgi Karakhanyan (#29), Kenny Foster, Zac George and Eric Larkin in the Featherweight Tournament field. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (#2)
Michael Chandler, Lloyd Woodard, Patricky Freire, Ferrid Kheder, Marcin Held, Toby Imada (#52 Lightweight), “Razor” Rob McCullough (#70 Lightweight) and Carey Vanier (#95) will compete in Bellator’s Season 4 Lightweight Tournament. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and the right to challenge Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight) for the title.
The Welterweight Tournament features Jay Hieron (#19 Welterweight), Steve Carl (#43), “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead, former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good (#38), Dan Hornbuckle (#57), Brent Weedman (#84), Chris Lozano, and former Olympic judoka Rick Hawn as they compete for $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (#15). Both Lozano and Hawn will enter our rankings after their first tournament fight.
The promotion’s inaugural Light-Heavyweight Tournament is the other officially-announced component of Bellator’s upcoming fourth season, which will air on MTV2. In the coming weeks, Bellator will announce the rest of its season four tournament participants. To date, the other announced fighters for season four are Joe Riggs, Daniel Gracie and Ron Sparks.
The promotion currently boasts champions in all men’s divisions but Flyweight and Light Heavyweight. Those champions are Zach Makovsky (#11 Bantamweight), Joe Warren (#2 Featherweight), Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight), Ben Askren (#15 Welterweight), Hector Lombard (#7 Middleweight), Cole Konrad (#25 Heavyweight), and Zoila Frausto, who will likely be at the top of the heap when FIGHT! unveils its Women’s Flyweight Rankings.