Bellator 60 Preview

March 7, 2012

Bellator Fighting Championships returns with all new season this Friday night. Bellator 60 starts Season 6 with a bang, headlined by a featherweight world title fight and the start of the featherweight tournament. Reigning champ Joe Warren (7-2) defends his belt against two-time tournament champion Pat Curran (16-4) Friday, March 9th at 8/7c live on MTV2 and from Hammond, Indiana.

Both Warren and Curran's last fight ended with highlight reel knockouts. Unfortunately for Warren, he was on the receiving end of it. After a scheduled title defense against Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (17-1) was scrapped, Warren shed an extra 10 pounds last fall and entered the Season 5 bantamweight tournament. His dreams of simultaneously holding two titles were crushed by a vicious left hook, courtesy of Alexis Vila. Now returning to his championship weight, Warren enters his title defense as the underdog. It's a familiar role for the world-class wrestler, and one he's encountered success in. Between upsetting former world champion Chase Beebe and Japanese star Kid Yamamoto in his first two fights, Warren is seemingly at his best when the odds are stacked against him. The self-proclaimed "baddest man on the planet" has his work cut out for him in his first title defense; but in the words of commentator Jimmy Smith moments after Warren crafted an unforgettable come-from-behind victory against Joe Soto to win the title, "never count Joe Warren out of a fight."

Curran enters his second title fight in Bellator riding sky high off one of 2011's most memorable finishes. After scoring a rare Peruvian necktie submission victory in the quarterfinals and a unanimous decision against Ronnie Mann (21-4-1) in the semis, the Chicago-native delivered a picture-perfect head kick to dangerous striker Marlon Sandro (20-3) in the finals last August. He became the first person to finish the highly-regarded Brazilian and the win, Curran's second tournament championship, earned him the distinction of the first fighter to win two Bellator tournaments in separate weight classes. Comfortably down at 145 pounds, Curran looks to capture gold in front of a hometown crowd.

Though the winner of Warren vs. Curran will meet a now-healed Freire later this season, eight featherweights are seeking their crack at the belt as the Season 6 featherweight tournament begins. Bellator veteran Sandro is out for tournament redemption as he takes on promotional newcomer Roberto Vargas (12-1). Against a top-10 featherweight in Sandro, Vargas has a tall mountain to climb in his Bellator debut, and he wouldn't want it any other way. The So-Cal native's lone defeat was a close split decision in 2009 to Bellator vet Wilson Reis and Vargas is poised to shock the world in his Bellator debut. Few runs in MMA were more violent than Sandro's 13-month stint in Japan that saw him polish off four opponents in a combined 3:39. After stumbling in the tournament finals against Curran, the Nova Uniao product made a triumphant return last November and submitted Rafael Dias in the first round. He's out to solidify his world ranking and get revenge against Curran.

In what promises to be a frenetically paced affair, Alexandre "Popo" Bezerra (12-1) takes on Genair da Silva (11-4). In his Bellator debut against Sandro, da Silva showed a hectic pace with excellent footwork, solid kicks and savvy scrambles, but his willingness to backpedal and counterstrike lost him the decision. In his most recent outing, the Brazilian jumpstarted his offense and coupled smooth takedowns with a relentless grappling attack to earn a first-round submission win. His defensive wrestling will be put to the test against Bezerra. An aggressive fighter with one of the best power doubles in the sport, "Popo" has an absurdly high level both wrestling and jiu-jitsu. The result is a stylistic nightmare for plenty of opponents. After steamrolling his first three Bellator opponents, Bezerra showed his ability to over adversity in his last bout with Doug Evans, scoring a come-from-behind win via heel hook with his right eye swollen shut.

Mann enters his second Bellator tournament, as he takes on late-replacement Mike Corey (11-2-1). When injuries forced Wagnney Fabiano to pull out of the tournament, Corey jumped at the opportunity to replace him. Corey showed his strong wrestling base in his Bellator debut last November. Against Mann, the Midwestern will likely utilize a similar game plan of getting top position. Mann comes into the tournament a new fighter. After dropping a decision to Curran last summer, the U.K. native promised to come out more aggressive in his next fight. He did just that last October, and thoroughly out-landed Kenny Foster on the feet before securing a fight-ending triangle choke in the opening round. With memories of his late trainer Shawn Tompkins far from faded, look for Mann to continue using his unrelenting pace against Corey.

Completing the quarterfinals are Daniel Straus (17-4) and Jeremy Spoon (12-0). The undefeated Spoon has scored eight career wins by submission, including one in his Bellator debut in March 2011. The Oklahoman has impressive cardio, having been five full rounds twice in his career. In facing Straus, he takes a welcomed bump up in competition. An acclaimed wrestler from the Buckeye state, Straus made it to the finals of Season 4 only to drop a decision to Freire. Refocused and never short of motivation, Straus looks to build on a five-round beating of UFC vet Jason Dent last October and hand Spoon his first career loss.

Opening the night is a stacked prelim card on, live at 7/6c. UFC veteran Sean McCorkle battles Richard White in a 280-pound catchweight fight. Former TUF competitor Shamar Bailey meets once-beaten Josh Shockley in a lightweight contest. Travis Wiuff, who holds a victory over current Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu clashes with Anthony Gomez.

Catch the prelims live on starting at 7/6c
Catch on main card on MTV2, in HD on Epix2 and at 8/7c
Catch more live fights after the main card on at 10/9c