Bellator 71 Preview

June 21, 2012

Bellator Fighting Championships returns this Friday with Bellator 71, the first of three events in the 2012 Summer Series. With the Season Six welterweight and bantamweight tournaments wrapping up in July and August, respectively, and Pat Curran slated to defend his featherweight title against Patricio "Pitbull" Freiere, the Summer Series is guaranteed to be action packed. First up is the lone tournament of the season, as eight light heavyweights battle to earn a shot against Bellator's inaugural 205 pound champion Christian M'Pumbu. MMA Onslaught presents Bellator 71, live and commercial free on the web Friday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

Two international talents collide in the featured tournament bout, as European prospect Attila Vegh meets Croatian striker Zelg Galesic. Vegh made his Bellator debut in April, entering with a gaudy 24-4 record that included 19 finishes. He frustrated his opponent Dan Spohn by blending a solid clinch game with takedowns, and earned a split decision win. Galesic, a tournament vet, got as tough an assignment as they come in his Bellator fight last fall, drawing Alexander Shlemenko in the middleweight quarterfinals where a nasty guillotine forced Galesic to tap early on. If his first trek back to 205 pounds is any indication, Galesic is as dangerous as ever on the feet. Galesic dismantled former WEC champion Doug Marshall last month, blitzing him with uppercuts and knees from the clinch before finishing with a flying knee in 34 seconds. It was vintage Galesic; the Croatian has only left the first round once in his 17 fight career.

Also on tap is a battle between two Bellator vets, Travis Wiuff and Chris Davis, who both have experience against M'Pumbu. Wiuff enters the tournament having already bested the champion in a non-title affair last October. The veteran of more than 80 fights used his size and wrestling to smoother M'Pumbu, and survived a third-round flurry to earn the win. Wiuff has only tasted defeat once in his last 13 outings. His opponent also battled the reigning champ, as Davis met M'Pumbu in March 2011. Davis, like Wiuff, had grappling success in the opening two rounds, taking M'Pumbu's back on several occasions. But in the third round – the first of Davis' career – he ultimately fatigued and was finished with strikes. "The Professional" returns to the cage for the first time in 15 months. The 29-year-old has never been the distance in his 13 fight career, and eight of his 10 wins have come in the first round.

In a battle of promotional newcomers, Roy Boughton takes on Emanuel Newton. Boughton earned must-see prospect status after his fourth fight, a submission win against esteemed grappler Misha Cirkunov. The Cesar Gracie product favors single leg takedowns and is crafty at getting off his back, as displayed in his contentious decision loss to Sokoudjou. Since that defeat in June of last year, the 23-year-old has pieced together a three-fight winning streak and enters Bellator with an 8-2 record. His opponent, Newton, also makes his promotional debut with a wave of momentum, having won five in a row. The extremely mobile Newton possesses a solid chin and footwork, and is able to set a tremendous pace. His current winning streak includes submission wins over UFC vets Rodney Wallace and James McSweeney.

Rounding out the tournament is a pair of once-beatens, as Bellator newcomer Beau Tribolet meets tournament veteran Tim Carpenter. Tribolet enters Friday's contest with a 7-1 record, making him the least experienced competitor in the tournament. Since dropping his pro debut, the Arizona native has since been perfect, including avenging his sole blemish. A TKO win against UFC vet Chase Gormley in August 2011 was the last time Tribolet fought, and he takes a step up in competition against Carpenter. A Season Four semifinalist, Carpenter's lone loss came to eventual tournament winner and champ M'Pumbu. Carpenter responded nicely last October, putting Ryan Contaldi away early with a nasty uppercut. Originally an alternate, Carpenter stepped up to fill Rich Hale's spot after Hale fell ill the day of weigh-ins.

Also on the card is a heavyweight showdown featuring the hard hitting Brett Rogers and 15-1 Kevin Asplund. Since losing his pro debut, Asplund has rattled off 15-straight victories. He has a well balanced collection of knockouts and submissions, and showed a solid chin in both outings against Reese Hernandez. While his nickname "Concrete" speaks for both his hands and his chin, Rogers isn't the guy you want to test the latter on. "Da Grim"'s heavy hands saw him achieve contender status, with his 22-second knockout win over Andrei Arlovski propelling him into the top 10. His few losses are only to the division's elite in Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett. With Rogers' mental game back in peak form, he remains a force to be reckoned with.

The entire Bellator 71 card is live online, and can be watched on, USTREAM, YouTube,, and a variety of MMA sites. The card is presented commercial free by MMA Onslaught, and the action gets underway at 6:30e/3:30p. Check out the full Bellator 71 lineup.