Bellator 58 Preview

November 17, 2011

Season 5 of Bellator Fighting Championships may be winding down, but the best is still to come. Two champions step into the cage this weekend at Bellator 58. One looks to defend his belt, the other seeks a statement win before his next title defense. Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez faces undefeated season 4 tournament champion Michael Chandler and middleweight champion Hector Lombard enters the cage for a non-title catchweight fight against Trevor Prangley this Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7/6c on MTV2 and in HD on Epix.

From the time he stepped into the cage at Bellator's first event, reigning champion Eddie Alvarez has looked nothing short of unstoppable. He won the inaugural lightweight tournament, he is the first and only lightweight champion in the promotion's history, and he has yet to taste defeat under the Bellator banner. Sporting a gaudy 6-0 Bellator record, the Philadelphia native has finished all but one of his fights since 2009. Alvarez, a veteran of 24 fights with global experience, will stare down one of his toughest opponents to date come Saturday, even though Chandler enters the title fight with one-third of Alvarez's experience. When Alvarez captured Bellator gold in June 2009, Chandler was still two months away from his first pro MMA fight. In two and a half years time, Chandler has gone from a relative unknown to a Bellator tournament champion. The Xtreme Couture-product is yet to taste defeat in his career and it's not by coincidence. The 25-year-old has a tremendous work ethic and an equal amount of confidence from his Division I wrestling days. His relentless pace and calculated blend of striking and grappling helped him power through dangerous Brazilian Patricky "Pitbull" Freire in the season 4 tournament finals. Chandler will need to utilize his full arsenal come Saturday in his quest to dethrone the 155-pound kingpin Alvarez.

A second Bellator champion will also be under the bright lights, as dangerous striker and world-class Judo player Hector Lombard returns to the cage in a non-title catchweight affair. Moving up from 185 to 195 pounds, Lombard's already immense power could possibly get a boost. That's a daunting thought considering only one of Lombard's seven previous opponents in Bellator has made it to the final bell. Like Alvarez, Lombard won his title during Bellator's first season and has been champion ever since. His 7-0 Bellator record features four first-round knockouts, including a six-second KO which is a Bellator record. Though Lombard won't make a title defense until a 2012 rematch with two-time tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko, he is choosing to stay active and battles Prangley at a catchweight. Prangley, who regularly fights at light heavyweight, will likely have a size advantage come fight night. The South African makes his Bellator debut after fighting in top promotions around the world. The UFC, Strikeforce, MFC and Dream veteran is a three-time former champion. He looks to bring an end to Lombard's 24-fight unbeaten streak.

Also on the main card is the return of top-10 featherweight Marlon Sandro, who takes on submission specialist Rafael Dias. Sandro returns to the cage for the first time since August, when we fell one fight shy of winning the Summer Series tournament. The Nova UniƤo- product is seeking a breakout performance in the U.S. and wants to import the killer instinct that saw him score four first-round knockouts in Sengoku. Standing in his way is Dias, a fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, who favors his grappling game. Dias, a WEC veteran, brings 10 submission victories into his Bellator debut.

For the fourth fight on the MTV2 and Epix broadcast, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney let the fans decide who they wanted to see. By following him on Twitter, fans voted for the fight that they want moved from the prelims to the main card. A women's fight between previous tournament semi-finalists Jessica Aguilar and Lisa Ellis-Ward won and will now be shown on the MTV2 and Epix broadcast. Both are seeking their third win in Bellator. The prelims feature Brett Cooper vs. Jared Hess. Cooper is coming off of an immensely entertaining third-round TKO in his last Bellator appearance, while Hess is looking to rebound after coming up short in a recent Bellator tournament. A fight between locals Farkhad Sharipov and Fabio Mello is also part of the prelim broadcast. Rounding out the undercard is muay Thai champ Cosmo Alexandre taking on Avery McPhatter.

Catch the prelims streaming live Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT