Bellator Fighting Championships returns with a night of welterweight action on MTV2. The event will feature 4 bouts in the opening round of the season 7 welterweight tournament. The winner of the series will be awarded $100,000 and a shot at the welterweight championship currently held by the unbeaten Ben Askren in 2013 on Spike. Let’s take a look at the main card offerings.
Former welterweight kingpin Lyman Good (12-2 MMA, 5-2 BFC) returns to the tournament format tonight with a rematch with Askren on his mind. After winning the inaugural 170 tournament in 2009, Lyman has seen mixed results inside of the cage, posting a .500 record in his last 4 appearances. Coming off of a 13-second knockout earlier this year, Good doesn’t plan to go away any time soon. He faces Jim Walhead in the first round.
“Judo” Jim Walhead may not have a big name in the states, but with his Judo base and a rounded game he is a tough matchup for the former champ. Walhead (23-6 MMA, 1-1 BFC) enters season 7 looking for his third victory in a row, recently outpointing UFC vet Frank Trigg and stopping Jackson’s MMA product, Joey Villasenor. Walhead has only tasted defeat once in the last 4 years and has emerged victorious in 10 of his last 11 outings.
One of, if not the top prospect at 170, Andrey Koreshkov looks for his third win inside of the Bellator cage when he battles Jordan Smith. Koreshkov (10-0 MMA, 2-0 BFC) is best known for his spinning attacks, exciting striking style and finishing ability, but enters the series searching for that signature win to round out an impressive young career thus far. Andrey would like to see the same results that his coach Alexander Shlemenko has. Shlemenko vies for the Middleweight crown for the second time after winning 2 tournaments in as many tries.
The Russian will first have to get past the well-rounded American, Jordan Smith. Smith (17-3 MMA, 0-1 BFC) looks to rebound from a 22-second knockout loss to David Rickels in the first round of season 6’s welterweight offering back at Bellator 63. The defeat was only the third of Smith’s 20 fight career.
Other bouts in the series will include former DREAM Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis taking on Tristar’s Nordine Taleb and RFSC’s Michail Tsarev collides with Montana’s Tim Welch. Nordine enters the contest riding a 7-fight win streak with 5 of those victories coming inside of the distance. Zaromskis will try to keep his own streak alive, currently on a 4 fight run. One of Russia’s top Middleweights, Michail Tsarev, joins teammate Andrey Koreshkov in the tournament. Tsarev has finished his last 10 opponents and has not been defeated in almost 4 years. He enters the promotion with an impressive 23-2 record. The 22-year-old Welch has finished all 9 of his victories and aims for number 10 tonight.
The preliminary card is not without some interesting matchups. Jeff Smith rolls into Bellator on a 10 fight run after dropping his pro debut. He will test his skills against the highly regarded Alexandre Bezerra in a featherweight affair. Lyman Good is not the only Team Tiger Schulmann representitive on the card as top 10 ranked flyweight Munah Holland returns to action, this time facing Team Quest’s Michelle Ould.
Season 7 of Bellator competition will feature tournaments in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and heavyweight divisions. Bellator 74 kicks off season 7 LIVE on MTV 2 tonight at 8pmET/7PT.
Thoughts: While an interesting group of participants in this season’s welterweight offerings I for one have been scratching my head as to why names like Douglas Lima, Paul Daley, Ben Saunders and Bryan Baker have been left out of the series. Bezerra’s not participating in the featherweight series as well. I am not as exited as I have been in previous seasons, but you never know what will happen and who will emerge as a threat from fight to fight.