Bellator 73 Preview

August 23, 2012

The 2012 Summer Series of Bellator Fighting Championships concludes this Friday with a tournament championship double header. Bellator 73 features Attila Vegh vs. Travis Wiuff in the light heavyweight tournament finals, plus Luis Nogueira and Marcos Galvao square off to crown the Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament Champion. The action goes down from Tunica, Mississippi this Friday, August 24 on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX at 8/7c.

Wiuff entered Bellator last October with the dreaded journeyman tag, but a win in a non-title bout against current 205-pound kingpin Christian M'Pumbu certainly raised eyebrows. After rattling off three straight wins, including a first-round knockout against Chris Davis in June, Wiuff finds himself one fight away from a title shot. The massive light heavyweight has been able to overpower everyone in his path, utilizing his aggressive takedown centric style to floor his opponents. "Diesel" enjoys a wrestling advantage over most of his competitors and the veteran of more than 80 fights isn't likely to change his approach against Vegh.

In his three Bellator appearances, Vegh remains an enigma. His 60-second destruction of Zelg Galesic was sandwiched between two razor thin split decisions against Dan Spohn and most recently Emanuel Newton. Vegh showcased his well-rounded skills in the Newton bout, where he scored points from the outside and refused to be held down by Newton. Nevertheless, the lengthy Vegh seems to be at his best when guys charge him. Galesic was the most aggressive of his Bellator foes, and Vegh cracked him on the feet before submitting him in a minute flat. He'll need to capitalize in similar fashion against Wiuff, since he'll be at a significant size disadvantage.

The Season 6 bantamweight tournament, which began in April, also concludes Friday as Galvao battles Nogueira. Perhaps best known for being on the wrong end of two incredibly controversial decisions – one against then-featherweight champ Joe Warren and another against Alexis Vila – Galvao has taken matters into his own hands this year. "Loro" dropped Ed West several times in their quarterfinal matchup, earning a clean sweep on the scorecards. The jiu-jitsu black belt followed that performance up with a win against Travis Marx in May, once again choosing to stand and trade for the majority of the fight. Galvao meets a fellow striking enthusiast in the tournament finals.

When Nogueira meets Galvao, it will likely be the first tournament fight where the rising Brazilian isn't threatened by takedowns. "Betao" earned his championship spot thanks to his incredibly underrated takedown defense and sharp boxing. The compact Brazilian frustrated Alexis Vila in the quarterfinals, shrugging off the Olympic Bronze medalist's takedowns en route to a decision win. He stuck to the formula in the semis, forcing "Iron" Nakamura to stand with him before ending his night with a vicious third-round knockout. Nogueira's tight boxing is a stark contrast to Galvao's looping punches, something that could be a deciding factor. The winner of Galvao vs. Nogueira secures a title shot against recently crowned champion Eduardo Dantas this November.

Also on the card are two undefeated light heavyweight prospects in Matt Van Buren and Mike Mucitelli. The New York based Mucitelli ended his nearly two year break from the sport last month, picking up the second win of his career. His heavy top game was on display, as he overwhelmed Eddie Hardison with ground and pound before securing a rear naked choke in the opening round. Van Buren sports a perfect 2-0 record in Bellator and with finishes in each outing. His last bout showed his well-roundedness, as Van Buren tagged Shawn Levesque before patiently cutting through his guard and forcing the tap with a rear naked choke. In a bout where someone's zero will go, the winner is one step closer to securing a tournament spot at 205 pounds.

Rounding out the main card are two Bellator newcomers, as Mike Wessel battles Ryan Martinez in heavyweight action. Wessel, a UFC-veteran as well as a TUF 10 cast member, holds an 11-4 record and is 3-1 in his last four with all three wins coming by knockout. Martinez made waves last year after sprawling and brawling his way to victory against Mark Ellis, an NCAA Division I Wrestling Champion. The once-beaten Martinez is currently riding a five-fight win streak that includes three first-round stoppages. The winner of the bout becomes a potential candidate to fill a vacant spot in the upcoming Season 7 heavyweight tournament.

Before the main card airs, streams the prelims live. Kickboxing specialist Cosmo Alexander returns to Bellator, hoping to earn his third straight win in the cage as he takes on Harry Johnson. Also on the prelims is Strikeforce vet Jacob Noe, who takes on fellow light heavyweight Brian Albin. Kelvin Tiller returns to Bellator and goes for his third straight win when he meets Amaechi Oselukwue. Check out the full Bellator 73 card.

Prelims are live on at 6:20 p.m. ET/3:20 p.m. PT
Main card is live on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX at 8/7c