Unless you’re like me, and committed to traveling to every local MMA show with a pulse, your only source of sanctioned fist-fighting this weekend is going to be Bellator 55 on Saturday night. But don’t fret! There’s a pretty strong pair of bantamweight semifinals on tap – one of which includes that spry little Cuban who nearly clubbed Joe Warren to death – and there’s a non-title light-heavyweight bout between Bellator champ Christian M’Pumbu and the salty veteran Travis Wiuff to look forward to. Preview time!
-Alexis Vila vs. Marcos Galvao – Featherweight champ Warren tends to be a mouthy, and somewhat annoying, guy when a microphone is stuck in his face. However, thanks to former Olympic wrestler Vila (the aforementioned Cuban), we now know that if you hit Warren hard enough, he goes all rigid and stares quietly off into space. Such was the case with their match-up in the quarterfinals of this season’s bantamweight tournament, which lasted all of a minute and four seconds. Galvao, meanwhile, beat the stuffing out of former WEC champ Chase Beebe at that same event, so now we get to see two very scrappy individuals do the man-dance. Hooray! For while there’s still a big question mark hanging over Vila’s head (How does he look two minutes into a fight? Three minutes into a fight?), you know you going to get action, and Galvao has proven to not be the kind of guy to avoid action. Based on experience alone I’d favor the Brazilian, but you never know.
-Eduardo Dantas vs. Ed West – Okay, so Dantas knocked out Wilson Reis in the quarterfinals with a flying knee. Big deal. These days everyone does that. The fact of the matter is the Brazilian Nova Uniao exponent is going to have a rough time replicating that against the American West, who’s tough as nails. How tough is West exactly? He went the distance with champ Zach Makovsky in the finals of the last 135-pound tournament, and when fighting in his rightful weight class (this one), he’s practically impossible to put away and tends to keep going strong when opponents slow down. I expect the Brazilian to come out hard and aggressive, but when the second and third rounds come along, West will have him begging his corner for an oxygen tank and some Power Bars.
-Christian M’Pumbu vs. Travis Wiuff – Congo-born striker M’Pumbu won Bellator’s inaugural light-heavyweight tournament by putting his hands on foes in very violent fashion – which, when you think about it, is exciting and how you want fights to end. But he’s still a little green when you compare him to opponent Wiuff, who has literally fought in every promotion out there (the UFC, Sengoku, the IFL, et al.). Adding to M’Pumbu’s troubles is the fact that Wiuff has a solid wrestling background, and he was YAMMA’s one and only tournament champ. Thankfully, Bellator fighters have to compete in a cage and not a bowl like they did in YAMMA, but that wrestling thing might pose problems. If Wiuff can get things to the ground, M’Pumpu could be in trouble.
-Steve Gable vs. Ricardo Tirloni – A lightweight bout between some American ShoXC vet named Gable and some vet of the Brazilian circuit named Tirloni? As these two are pretty much unknowns, we’ll just call this match-up “filler”. Maybe it’ll be exciting – Gable has only a fraction of Tirloni’s fights, and squash matches can be fast and ugly – but how this one ends is anyone’s guess.