Image: Eric Coleman/ Eric Coleman Photography/ Bellator Fighting ChampionshipsBellator Fighting Championships
returns this Friday with the start of Season 7. Welterweights are the first of four tournaments to get underway, as eight competitors fight for $100,000 and a world title shot at 170 pounds. The bracket features a former champ, several tournament vets, and promising new blood with a track record of finishes. Bellator 74
gets underway Friday, September 28 from Atlantic City, N.J., with the main card live on MTV2 and EPIX2 at 8/7c.
Inaugural welterweight champion Lyman Good is set to make this third tournament appearance as he battles Jim Wallhead. "Judo" Jimmy brings plenty of momentum into what will be his first Bellator appearance since March 2011. The Brit has won consecutive bouts across the pond, including a 48-second knockout in his last outing. Wallhead, as his moniker implies, possesses phenomenal judo, along with a vicious left hand, and solid ground and pound. His opponent Good also enters Friday's quarterfinal coming off a quick finish. The former champ dismantled LeVon Maynard with a huge right hand and follow up ground and pound in April, earning the knockout in just 13 seconds. Keep your eyes peeled when these two clash Friday.
Expect a striking battle when the cage door shuts behind Nordine Taleb and Marius Zaromskis. Since gaining international acclaim for his string of violent head kicks in DREAM, Zaromskis has set up shop in the states. "The Whitemare" recently wrapped up his controversial trilogy with Waachiim Spiritwolf, scoring a TKO and decision win. Taleb is a fellow striking enthusiast with good finishing instincts. The Tristar product is on a seven-fight winning streak that includes five knockouts. His recent bout against Matt MacGrath showcased his accurate strikes, which set up a second-round finish. Both Taleb and Zaromskis bring 2-0 promotional records into their first Bellator tournament.
Undefeated prospect Andrey Koreshkov and Jordan Smith meet in the third quarterfinal. Smith got a rude welcome to Bellator last spring. The Utah native entered the Season 6 welterweight tournament as a late replacement and was blasted by David Rickels in just 22 seconds. He returns to the cage seeking redemption and a chance to hand Koreshkov his first professional loss. Koreshkov, the protégé of two-time tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko, certainly fights like his mentor. The Russian utilized accurate punches and fearlessly attacked with spinning kicks in his two Bellator fights. His last outing against Derrick Krantz saw Koreshkov fight off a close rear naked choke in the first before getting a third-round stoppage.
Rounding out the tournament is a battle of Bellator newcomers, as Tim Welch clashes with Michail Tsarev. Russian born Tsarev holds a gaudy 22-3 record, which features 18 submission wins. He seems to hoax opponents into taking him down, as Tsarev's arsenal off his back includes solid sweeps, and swift triangles and armbars. Tsarev also favors both submissions in top position, as he showed setting up a beautiful triangle against Rasul Magomedov in February. He's likely to end up on his back against Welch. The Montana native favors big slams and has also shown one-punch KO power on the feet. The Dogpound product and Llyod Woodard training partner has scored finishes in all nine of his victories.
Before the main card kicks off, you can catch a loaded prelim card on bellatorlive.spike.com
starting at 6:30e/3:30p. Tournament vet Alexandre Bezerra takes on the once beaten Jeff Smith in a featherweight scrap. "Popo" is looking for a spot in an upcoming tournament, while Smith is eying a big win in his promotional debut. Also on the card is a women's bout, as Munah Holland battles Michelle Ould. Holland is looking to earn her third straight knockout win, while a win for Ould would mark her longest career winning streak. Ultimate Fighter Finalist Phillipe Nover returns to Bellator to take on Derrick Kennington in a lightweight bout. Check out the full Bellator 74 card.
Prelims start on bellatorlive.spike.com
Friday, Sept. 28 at 6:30e/3:30p
Main card is live at 8/7c on MTV2 and EPIX2
Don't forget, you can catch Bellator all season long on your iPad.