Bellator 72 Preview

July 18, 2012

Bellator Fighting Championships returns this Friday for the second of three 2012 Summer Series shows. The loaded card features the long awaited Season 6 welterweight tournament final, the Bellator debut of British slugger Paul Daley, two light heavyweight semifinals, and the conclusion of a controversial trilogy. Catch all of the action Friday, July 20 starting with the prelims live at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on and continuing with the main card at 8/7c on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX.

Bryan Baker and Karl Amoussou meet to crown the next No.1 contender at 170 pounds in a unique mix of styles. The two middleweights-turned-welterweights couldn't be more opposite when it comes to preferred pacing. Baker, a Season 2 middleweight finalist, treads a fine line between a slow and methodical starter. In "The Beast"'s semifinal fight against Ben Saunders, Baker defended submissions throughout the first round before finding his groove in the latter two rounds, where a steady mix of strikes and takedowns helped him earn the decision. It was reminiscent of his battle with Jared Hess, where Baker was swarmed early but survived and rallied for a third round finish. Baker sports an 8-2 Bellator record, but a potential red flag is that his two promotional losses occurred in the first round.

When the bell rings, Amoussou is notorious for going berserk. He perfectly embodies his moniker "Psycho" in the opening five minutes, as shown by his 10 first-round finishes. The Frenchman has gone 3-0 since dropping south of 185, polishing off Jesus Martinez last November in a catchweight fight before demolishing Bellator veteran Chris Lozano in Amoussou's official welterweight debut in March. Both stoppages came in the first round. It's a high risk/high reward style, as the intensity of Amoussou's initial onslaught often leaves him vulnerable for fatigue in the latter rounds; see bouts with David Rickels and Sam Alvey. With both Amoussou and Baker at their strongest when the other is most susceptible, the opening round is especially pivotal. The winner of the bout earns a title shot at reigning welterweight champion Ben Askren.

Daley makes his much anticipated Bellator debut against fellow welterweight Rudy Bears. A veteran of the Midwest circuit who has had an up and down career, one constant from Bears is exciting fights. He was on the wrong end of close decisions in last two Bellator fights, but put up an entertaining and spirited effort in both. "Bad News" got back in the win column in May, scoring a first-round stoppage. He'll have his hands full with Daley.

For Daley, his nickname "Semtex" speaks for itself. The Brit has explosive power in his left hook and has shown its one-shot power against Dustin Hazelett and Scott Smith. If fighters survive his trademark punch, Daley is quite capable of ending fights with an additional barrage, as both Martin Kampmann and Yuya Shirai discovered. Daley's glaring hole has always been the ground game, but it's unlikely Bears has any desire of making this a wrestling match. Expect a fan-friendly standup affair between these two.

The main tournament of the Summer Series continues with a pair of light heavyweight semifinals. None of the four quarterfinal fights saw a third round. Travis Wiuff made perhaps the biggest statement, rushing Chris Davis from the opening bell and pressuring him against the cage before securing a takedown and knocking him out cold. The first-round finish extended his Bellator streak to three wins in as many appearances. Wiuff has only been beaten once in his last 14 outings.

He takes on the well-rounded Tim Carpenter. Carpenter, a last-minute replacement for the tournament, made the most of the opportunity and submitted Beau Tribolet with an armbar. The lengthy light heavyweight utilizes his frame well both on the ground and on the feet. While mainly known for submissions, his brutal uppercut put Ryan Contaldi down last October. Since dropping the lone fight of his career to current 205 pound kingpin Christian M'Pumbu, Carpenter has looked increasingly confident in each outing.

In the second semifinal, Attila Vegh faces Emanuel Newton. Newton's explosiveness and relentlessness on the ground were both on display in his quarterfinal fight. He showed solid submission defense against touted grappler Roy Boughton and even slammed his foe in the opening round. Newton also displayed savvy scrambles throughout the fight, including a transition from a sprawl to Boughton's back which helped him lock in the fight ending rear naked choke.

Vegh delivered two polar opposite performances to open his Bellator career. His debut saw him go three long rounds with Dan Spohn, hanging on to win a split decision. Vegh's follow up performance hinted that nerves may have played a factor in his big show debut, as he showed how dangerous he can be. In a whirlwind of a fight, Vegh rocked Zelg Galesic early into their quarterfinal fight, landed some vicious ground and pound, and locked in a rear naked choke to force the tap in 60 seconds. The winner of both light heavyweight semifinals will meet August 24 for the tournament championship.

Rounding out the main card is the third fight between Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf. The pair's previous matches have both ended in controversy. An eye poke six seconds into their first bout halted the fight and forced officials to declare the bout no contest. Their most recent clash at Bellator 68 saw the two go back and forth for two rounds on the feet. With the contest heating up and Spiritwolf gaining momentum, a cut on his forehead prompted doctors to again intervene, giving Zaromskis the TKO victory. Here's to hoping the third time is a charm in rendering an undisputed result.

Before the main card airs live, catch the prelims live at Season 5 finalist Ben Saunders returns and faces Brian Warren in welterweight action. In another welterweight battle, Season 6 tournament competitor Raul Amaya takes on Kenny Moss. Unbeaten Shanon Slack meets Matt McCook in a featherweight contest. Click here for the full card.

Main card is live Friday, July 20 at 8/7c on MTV2 and in HD on EPIX
Prelims stream live Friday, July 20 at 6:30e/3:30p on