Bellator 54 Preview

October 13, 2011

The first month of Bellator Season 5 produced explosive knockouts, shocking upsets and unforgettable scraps. Now reaching the midway point of the season, the action shows no signs of slowing down. Four middleweights collide this Saturday, Oct. 15 at Bellator 54 in the semi-finals but only two will punch their ticket to the tournament final. The main card airs live on MTV 2 and in HD on Epix 2 at 9/8c. Expect fireworks and don’t blink when former tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko battles the explosive Brian Rogers. Veteran knockout artist Shlemenko has 41 wins, including 25 by KO. In his most recent outing, however, the Russian export showed a new wrinkle to his game and submitted Zelg Galesic in the first round. Shlemenko, whose lone loss in his last 11 fights was a decision against reigning middleweight champion Hector Lombard, will need his full arsenal against Rogers. Appropriately dubbed “The Predator,” Rogers is riding an incredible seven-fight winning streak with seven first-round knockouts. The Ohio-native quickly dispatched of Victor O’Donnell in the quarterfinals, needing less than two minutes to secure victory.

Vitor Vianna and Bryan Baker round out the semi-finals, with one poised for his first opportunity to win the tournament and the other eager for redemption. In his Bellator debut, a three-round battle against Sam Alvey, Vianna won by decision. The once-beaten Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert and Wand Fight Team instructor is looking to move his Bellator record to 2-0 and advance to the finals. In his way is the tremendously resilient Baker, who has overcome adversity in and out of the cage. Diagnosed with chronic leukemia just weeks before Bellator’s third season, Baker made an inspirational journey to the finals before being eliminated. Now with his health at 100 percent, the Team Wildman product is revitalized and ready for another tournament run. In trouble during the early moments of his previous fight, Baker remained calm, turned the tide and scored a third-round TKO over Jared Hess. The winners of both semi-final matches will meet in the tournament final. The tournament winner earns a title shot against middleweight champion Lombard.

Bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky will have his next title challenger once Season 5 concludes. Not content to wait, Makovsky faces UFC-vet Ryan Roberts in a non-title affair. The 135-pound kingpin captured the belt in October of 2010 and is a perfect 5-0 in Bellator. In his last outing Makovsky handed Chad Robichaux his first professional loss, stopping him in the third round. Makovsky meets Roberts, who has only lost once in his last eight fights. Completing the main card is a lightweight fight between Jason Kirwan and the undefeated Renê Nazare. Kirwan looks to hand Nazare his first professional loss. Dubbed “The Brazilian Bomber,” Nazare fights in Bellator for the fourth time this year. The jiu-jitsu champion has finished his last six fights.

Before the main card airs, brings you all five preliminary bouts live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. A member of MMA’s most historical family, Daniel Gracie returns to the Bellator cage to face the once-beaten Duane Bastress. Gracie, a fourth degree BJJ black belt, seeks his first submission victory in Bellator. Tim Carpenter aims to rebound following his loss to current Bellator champion Christian M’Pumbu and faces Ryan Contaldi in a light heavyweight contest. Women are in the cage for the second time in Season 5, as Andria Caplan makes her professional debut against Adrienne Seiber.

Catch the prelims live Saturday Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT