The first tournament championship of season six is on the line when Bellator Fighting Championships returns this Friday, as featherweights Marlon Sandro and Daniel Straus battle for a title shot at 145 pounds. It's the second trip to the tournament finals for both, and the two are searching for redemption after falling short in previous seasons. The bantamweight tournament also continues with the first semifinal matchup, as Marcos Galvao and Travis Marx fight for a spot in the finale. Bellator 68
goes down from Caesars Atlantic City, Friday, May 11 starting with the prelims live on BellatorLive.Spike.com
at 7e/4p and continuing with the main card on MTV2 and Epix at 8/7c.
Straus and Sandro find themselves in almost identical situations. It's their second Bellator tournament, and the second time they've fought in a tournament championship. Three fights in three months at such a high level is a grueling task, but for a workhorse like Straus, it's almost second nature. Long known for utilizing his phenomenal wrestling to push a tremendous pace, the Ohioan showed a new wrinkle to his game in his last outing
, as he used much improved footwork and boxing to tattoo Mike Corey in the semifinals. It was arguably Straus' most impressive performance to date, especially considering it came one week after the tragic passing of a teammate. He enters his second tournament championship fight posting a 15-1 record in his last 16 fights. He'll face off against a fellow tournament runner-up in Sandro. With his loss to current world champ
Pat Curran still in his mind, Sandro is one fight from securing a title shot and potentially lining up a much anticipated rematch. The Brazilian blazed through Roberto Vargas
in the opening round, cracking him on the feet before submitting him early in the first. In a more tentative affair against Alexandre Bezerra in the semis, Sandro walked away with the decision. Despite a shockingly tame performance in the last round, Sandro's one-punch knockout power and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt make him an incredibly dangerous opponent for anyone in the world. Only one will walk away with the big check and earn a title shot.
In the first bantamweight semifinal, Galvao and Marx meet coming off of two equally impressive wins in the quarterfinals
. Marx impressed in his Bellator debut, taking out the world-ranked Masakatsu Ueda. The size and wrestling of the Greg Jackson-trained veteran was too much, as "T-Train" surpassed expectations and thrived in the role of underdog. Entering his first Bellator semifinal with a 19-3 record, he'll meet a fellow grappler in jiu-jitsu black belt Galvao. "Loro" had his name in headlines twice in 2011, but at the expense of being on the wrong end of a pair of questionable decisions. The Brazilian took matters into his own hands last month, dropping Bellator vet Ed West on several occasions and nearly finishing him in an exciting three round bout. It was a convincing victory, as he earned a clean sweep on the judges' scorecards. Entering his second semifinal fight, Galvao seeks his first trip to the tournament finals.
Though the opening two main card fights don't have immediate tournament implications, fans couldn't ask for a better pair of stylistic matchups. Seth Petruzelli meets Carmelo Marrero at a catchweight of 230 pounds in a battle between two veterans of the sport. Marrero, a UFC veteran, holds wins over Cheick Kongo and Steve Steinbeiss. He enters Friday's contest 4-1 in his last five fights. He'll battle "The Silverback," who returns to Bellator for the first time since knocking out
former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez last August. It was his second first-round knockout in as many fights for the Florida native.
Kicking off the main card is a welterweight clash between strikers Waachiim Spiritwolf and Marius Zaromskis. Spiritwolf has only fought under the Bellator banner once, but it was one of the most memorable fights in the promotion's early history. He edged out Jaime Jara in a bloody three-round war
that left both fighters bloodied, battered and still smiling. The aggressive Spiritwolf is matched up with a stylistic dream, as he meets Zaromskis for the second time. The two met in November 2010, ending in a disappointing no contest just six seconds in after an unintentional eye poke halted the action. Since then, Zaromskis has scored two first-round stoppages, including one that started with a wild somersault kick. The aggressive southpaw has one of the most feared head kicks in the game and has never been known to shy away from a brawl. He'll look to utilize his more technical striking against Spiritwolf.
Before the main card kicks off, you can catch the prelims live on BellatorLive.Spike.com
. Bellator veteran Marcin Held returns to the cage following a win over Phillipe Nover last November and meets 6-2 Derrick Kennington, who has never gone the distance in eight pro fights. Jacob Kirwan, who holds a win over Rene Nazare, makes his third Bellator appearance and fights fellow lightweight Don Carlo-Clauss. In a welterweight fight, Jesus Martinez is back in the Bellator cage to take on Aung La Nsang. Get the full fight card right here.
Prelims are live, Friday, May 11 at 7e/4p on BellatorLive.Spike.com
Main card is live at 8/7c on MTV2 and Epix
More live fights continue at 10e/7p on BellatorLive.Spike.com