Bellator 65 Preview

April 12, 2012

For the second straight week, a title is on the line as Bellator Fighting Championships returns this Friday night. Reigning Bantamweight World Champion Zach Makovsky puts his title on the line against Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament Champion Eduardo Dantas. Also, Mike Corey and Daniel Straus fight for the second featherweight tournament final slot and the bantamweight tournament continues with the final two quarterfinal match ups. Catch all the action at Bellator 65, live this Friday April 13 from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Though Zach Makovsky won Bellator's first bantamweight tournament, which crowned him the promotion's inaugural 135-pound champion, this Friday marks his first title defense. The Philadelphia Fight Factory representative has nevertheless remained active and went 2-0 in 2011 with two stoppages. A wrestler by trade, Makovsky showed improved striking in handing Chad Robichaux his first career loss with a third-round TKO in April 2011. Last October Makovsky got back to his routes, using his famed single leg takedown attack to set up an opening round submission against UFC veteran Ryan Roberts. "Fun Size" has his work cut out for him with Dantas, a lengthy Brazilian who has made a seamless transition to the U.S. In his Bellator debut, he cemented his status as a can't-miss prospect, knocking out longtime Bellator vet Wilson Reis with a flying knee. The 23-year-old Nova Uniao product then defeated Ed West and handed Alexis Vila his first loss en route to winning the season 5 bantamweight tournament. In a battle between two competitors with polar opposite frames, Dantas stands several inches taller than the champion and his 69 inch reach is half a foot longer than Makovsky's, something that could play a major factor in the fight. The two enter Friday's contest on a collective 14-fight winning streak, but only one will leave with Bellator gold.

Last week at Bellator 64, Marlon Sandro became the first featherweight tournament finalist and Friday Mike Corey and Daniel Straus fight to claim the final spot. Corey enters the semi-finals on the heels of an impressive upset in the tournament's opening round. A late replacement, he accepted a fight against Ronnie Mann on short notice. After a shaky opening round, Corey's wrestling took over and won him the final two rounds. It was almost the exact opposite of his promotional debut against Chris Horodecki, which saw him convincingly win the opening round before fading late and settling for a draw. Down at 145 pounds and still south of 30, Corey has plenty of upside and certainly reaps the benefits of training with featherweight champ Pat Curran. Against a fellow wrestler in Straus, the room for error is slim. Straus enters Friday's contest having only dropped two of his last 19 fights, one to Curran and most recently in the season 4 finals against Patricio Pitbull. A true grinder with an impressive gas tank, the Ohioan looked impressive in shutting down previously unbeaten Jeremy Spoon in the quarterfinals last month. The massive featherweight is seeking his second trip to the finals.

Bantamweights Travis Marx and "Iron" Nakamura advanced to the semis last week, and four more fight to join them as the 135-pound tournament continues Friday. Four promotional and tournament veterans collide, as Luis Nogueira meets Alexis Vila and Marcos Galvao fights Ed West. Nogueira was bounced from last season's tournament by West after losing a three-rounder, and responded emphatically weeks later with a submission win in less than a minute. Now entering his second tournament, "Betao" has redemption on his mind. He'll face the once-beaten Vila, a Season 5 Bantamweight Finalist. Vila made waves in his Bellator debut last September, brutally knocking out then-featherweight champion Joe Warren with left hook in the first round. Vila later defeated Galvao, before losing for the lone time in his career against Dantas. Now 41 years old, it may be now or never for the Olympic Bronze medalist. West and Galvao clash in the final bantamweight quarterfinal. Last September, Galvao survived several tight guillotine attempts and defeated former WEC Champion Chase Beebe in the quarterfinals. Matched up against Vila in the Season 5 semis, Galvao was pegged as a huge underdog. After a phenomenal performance from Galvao, Vila hung on to win a controversial split decision. Ready to move on from yet another questionable call, Galvao meets fellow Season 5 semi-finalist West. Appropriately nicknamed "Wild," the rangy bantamweight has a phenomenal gas tank, which allows him to use his kick-heavy attack and a high volume of moment from bell to bell. As he showed in a five-rounder with Makovsky, the Arizona native has a dangerous guard and nasty upkicks thanks to his lengthy frame. Having already advanced to the finals, West knows what it takes to flourish in the tournament.

Before the main card airs on MTV2 and Epix2 at 8/7c, you can catch the prelims live at starting at 7e/4p. In a Season 7 welterweight tournament qualifier, former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good faces Bellator veteran LeVon Maynard. Also on the prelims is TUF Finalist Kris Mccray, who makes his promotional debut against a Bellator open tryout winner and BJJ black belt Ailton Barbosa. Featherweights Scott Heckman and Lester Caslow return to Bellator and battle at 145 pounds. Undefeated EJ Brooks is back in the Bellator cage and fights Mikhail Malytin in a lightweight match. Check out the full Bellator 65 card right here

Prelims are live at 7e/4p at
Main card is live at 8/7c on MTV2 and Epix2
Live action continues at 10e/7p at