Bellator 55 Preview

October 20, 2011

Bellator Season 5 continues Saturday, Oct. 22 with Bellator 55 in Yuma, Ariz. Four bantamweights meet in the semi-finals but only two will move one step closer to a title shot against champion Zach Makovsky. Hailed as the most talent-rich tournament bracket, the 135-pounders didn’t disappoint in the quarterfinals. Fans were treated to two razor-close fights and two of the year’s best knockouts. Expect more of the same this Saturday when the cage door closes. The main card airs live on MTV2 and in HD on Epix2 at 9/8c.

Alexis Vila transformed from a relative unknown into the tournament favorite in 64 seconds last month. Vila spoiled Joe Warren’s plan of being the first Bellator champion in two weight classes. Early in round one Vila connected with a left hook that rendered Warren unconscious before he hit the mat. The knockout was heralded by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney as one of the best he’s seen in the last three years and kept Vila’s perfect record intact. The Olympic bronze medalist has his hands full in the semi-finals with Marcos Galvao, who is also coming off of an upset victory in the quarterfinals. Galvao survived several tight guillotine attempts against former WEC champion Chase Beebe and relied on his impressive top game to win a close three-round decision. Galvao, now 4-1 in his last five fights, is aiming to pull off consecutive upsets and secure a spot in the tournament final.

Ed West and Eduardo Dantas complete the bantamweight semi-finals. West utilized his long reach and crisp muay Thai to outlast Luis Nogueira in the quarterfinals. Though Dantas is up next for West, he has unfinished business with the champ Makovsky. The two fought for the belt last October and West fell short. It is the only blemish in his last 10 fights. Fighting in his home state, West looks to advance to the tournament final for the second time in his Bellator career. Standing in his way is a dangerous Brazilian in Dantas. The 22-year-old phenom has already compiled an 11-2 record. Dantas did not disappoint in his Bellator debut. The Nova Uniao-product took a page out of his teammate Jose Aldo’s playbook and used a flying knee to finish Wilson Reis. The winners of both semi-final matches will meet in the tournament final this November. The tournament winner earns a title shot against Makovsky.

Also on the main card is light heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu, who returns to the cage for the first time since capturing his belt. The Frenchman scored a hat trick of knockouts last season, finishing all three of his opponents and becoming Bellator’s first light heavyweight champion. He meets veteran Travis Wiuff in a non-title fight. Wiuff, a 10-year veteran of the sport, has only tasted defeat once in his last 11 outings. Kicking off the MTV2 and Epix2 broadcast is a lightweight fight between Steve Gable and Ricardo Tirloni. Both are once-beaten and bring a combined 18-2 record into their Bellator debuts.

Before the main card airs, brings you one of the most stacked prelim cards in Bellator history live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m.PT. Rich Hale, whose famous inverted triangle is up for submission of the year, battles undefeated Carlos Flores in light heavyweight action. The winner is expected to take place in the upcoming 205-pound tournament. Also UFC-veteran Edgar Garcia and Jacob Ortiz both bring impressive 10-2 records into their Bellator debuts.

Catch the prelims live Saturday Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT