Bellator 64 Preview

April 5, 2012

Gold will be up for grabs Friday night, as Bellator Fighting Championships returns with a welterweight title fight. Reigning champ Ben Askren puts his title and perfect record on the line against Season 5 Welterweight Tournament Champion Douglas Lima. Also, one featherweight will secure a spot in the Season 6 finale, as dangerous Brazilians Marlon Sandro and Alexandre Bezerra clash in a semi-final fight. Plus, the bantamweight tournament begins with two quarterfinal fights. Bellator 64 is live from Windsor, Ontario, Canada this Friday, April 6 on MTV2 and Epix2 at 8/7c with prelims starting at at 7e/4p.

Ben Askren successfully defended his title last October, ending Jay Hieron's 10-fight winning streak. The champ, however, wasn't content with his performance. It was the Askren's first win via split decision and only the second time in his Bellator career he lost a round. While his Olympic-caliber wrestling ultimately made the difference, "Funky" never got to display his standup, which he admits is still a work in progress. Six months later, Askren feels his time with acclaimed striking coach Duke Rufus is truly paying off. Nevertheless, Askren's undeniable strength is on the ground. His world-class wrestling saw him compete for the U.S. Olympic team and win two NCAA national championships. The Milwaukee based fighter will likely go that route against Douglas Lima. The American Top Team Atlanta product has one of the hottest right hands in MMA today. "The Phenom" turned in two tremendous performances last season, which saw him knockout Chris Lozano and become only the second man to stop Ben Saunders. While both performances were far from one-sided, Lima's right hand is a weapon capable of changing the outcome of a fight in seconds. He enters the title fight on a nine-fight winning streak that dates back to his days as the MFC welterweight champion and will no question feel at home back in the Great White North.

Before welterweight gold is at stake, Marlon Sandro meets Alexandre Bezerra in a featherweight semi-final guaranteed to produce fireworks. In his first tournament fight, Bezerra showed the same explosive traits fans have become familiar with. His second-round submission finish of Kenny Foster was Bezerra's longest fight in Bellator, as the aggressive wrestling of "Popo" coupled with his heavy hands and tight jiu-jitsu made for quick and brutal fights in his initial four promotional appearances. Against Sandro, the Summer Series Tournament Finalist, Bezerra is taking a jump up in competition. The Nova União product took another step towards his dream rematch against reigning champ Pat Curran last month, as he broke Roberto Vargas' jaw minutes into their quarterfinal fight before submitting him. It was the most impressive display from Sandro in his Bellator career and eerily reminiscent of his brutal Sengoku run years ago. The winner of Sandro vs. Bezerra claims the first spot in the Season 6 featherweight tournament finals.

Though a featherweight will clinch a finals spot Friday, the bantamweight tournament is just getting underway. Hiroshi "Iron" Nakamura meets undefeated Rodrigo Lima in a quarterfinal fight. An incredibly active Japanese export, Nakamura has fought seven times since February 2010. The DEEP veteran has posted a 5-1 record in his last six fights. He meets fellow promotional newcomer Lima, who enters Bellator with a perfect 10-0 record. A true finisher, Lima's resume boasts eight first-round finishes. The Brazilian has only gone this distance twice in his career. The second bantamweight tournament fight also features a pair of Bellator newcomers, as Travis Marx battles Masakatsu Ueda. Marx enters his debut with an 18-3 record, built up on a variety of West Coast regional promotions. The Team Jackson's product has a stiff test in his debut, as he meets top-10 bantamweight Ueda. The former Shooto Champion has only tasted defeat once in his 18-fight career and holds a victory over Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament Champion Eduardo Dantas.

Before the main card airs at 8/7c on MTV2 and Epix2, you can stream the prelims live at WEC veteran and Ontario native Chris Horodecki returns to Bellator and faces Mike Richman. Horodecki won his Bellator debut last July, but had to settle for a perplexing draw in a November 2011 fight he appeared to win. Richman brings an 11-1 record that includes nine first-round finishes into his Bellator debut. Also on the prelims is a bout between unbeaten Matt Secor and 6-1 Nordine Taleb. Secor steps onto the big stage in just his second professional fight as he takes on Tristar representative Taleb, who defeated UFC veteran Pete Sell in his last outing. Check out the full Bellator 64 card here.

Live fights start live at 7e/4p at
Main card is live at 8/7c on MTV2 and in HD on Epix2
Live fights continue at 10e/7p at