By Raphael Garcia
Bellator Fighting Championships looks to build off of last season’s exciting featherweight tournament in its sixth season. This tournament has eight competitors ready to join the fray for a $100,000 pay check, as well as a shot against current Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren. The draw includes Alexandre Bezerra, Jeremy Spoon, Genair de Silva, Roberto Vargas, Ronnie Mann, Marlon Sandro, Daniel Straus, and Wagnney Fabiano.
My tournament pick is Sandro, who fell one fight short in this year’s competition when he was stopped by Pat Curran in spectacular fashion. He is a former Sengoku Featherweight Champion with a record of 20-3. Since the first knockout loss of Sandro’s career, he was quick to rebound, defeating Rafael Dias by submission in the first round of Bellator 58 in November.
Mann is another competitor who seeks to improve upon his performance in Bellator’s featherweight tournament from the fifth season. He was defeated in the semifinals by the eventual champion Curran by unanimous decision. Known for competing mostly in Europe and Japan, Mann had competed for Cage Rage and Sengoku before moving to North America and joining Bellator. Since his defeat in last year’s tournament, Mann returned to winning ways when he submitted Kenny Foster in the first round by triangle choke at Bellator 53.
A former featherweight tournament finalist, Daniel Straus will be competing in his second competition. Straus currently holds a record of 17-4, and made his debut for Bellator when he defeated Chad Hinton at Bellator 23 in June of 2010. Since that time he has continued to improve, as he reached the season four featherweight tournament finals, but was defeated by Patricio Freire by unanimous decision.
The highly-experienced Fabiano is another good bet to win this event. The former Zuffa fighter was released from the WEC after earning a 4-2 record in the organization, and has competed in multiple promotions, including the International Fight League. He has also competed in several prominent grappling tournaments. His current record is 14-3, most recently suffering a submission defeat to the highly-ranked Joseph Benavidez at WEC 52.
Undefeated Spoon plans to continue his winning ways and build upon his 12-0 record. He last fought Adam Schindler at Bellator 56 in October, where he won by unanimous decision. The third-year professional fighter has eight submission victories to his credit.
Da Silva returns to compete in his second featherweight tournament. Last season he was defeated by Sandro in June, and knocked out of contention. Since that time he has returned to winning ways by defeating Bryan Goldsby at Bellator 52 by a first round rear naked choke.
Bezerra has fought in Bellator four times in 2011, and was victorious in each of his outings. Of his 12 victories, only one fight went the full fifteen minute duration. In addition, Bezerra has stopped seven of his opponents by submission, and four others by knockout.
Fighting out of San Bernardino, California, Roberto Vargas rounds out the field of eight. A nearly four-year professional of the sport, Vargas is making his return to Bellator after a 2009 campaign where he went 1-1 in the organization, before moving on to fight for other shows throughout the country. He was most recently seen in October, when he defeated Jared Downing at Shark Fights 20.
Bellator’s sixth season tournament is set to begin in March of 2012 and air on Fridays. The organization will also hold tournaments in the bantamweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions.
December 29, 2011
By Raphael Garcia