Bellator 69 Preview

May 16, 2012

Fresh off the end of the featherweight tournament last week, Bellator Fighting Championships concludes another tournament this Friday, as Maiquel Falcao and Andreas Spang meet in the Season Six Middleweight Tournament Finals. The welterweight tournament also continues with the second semifinal, as Karl Amoussou clashes with David Rickels with a spot in the finals on the line. The ladies will also take center stage, as No. 1 ranked 115-pounder Megumi Fujii takes on No. 2 Jessica Aguilar. A stacked Bellator 69 card invades Lake Charles, Louisiana this Friday, May 18. Catch all the action beginning with the prelims live at at 7e/4p and continuing with the main card on MTV2 and EPIX2 at 8/7c.

Unlikely finalist Andreas Spang makes his second Bellator appearance coming off of a shocking debut performance. The once-beaten Spang was tapped as a replacement after Bruno Santos was injured and forced out of his semifinal bout against Brian Rogers. Coming off of a violent flying knee knockout, Rogers didn't exactly have a long list of opponents willing to fight him on seven days notice. But when opportunity called, Spang answered and did so in impressive fashion. After eating a barrage of knees, uppercuts and hooks for most of two rounds, "Sweet Swede" stood in the pocket and landed his patented counter left hook, which knocked Rogers out and completed a remarkable comeback. Spang must be cautious about giving up his back against the dangerous Maiquel Falcao, a tendency shown in earlier fights and one which led to his only defeat. Though the 23 knockout wins on Falcao's resume undoubtedly pop, he has a slick ground game that was on display in his last outing against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky. Down a round early, Falcao fought back with crisp combinations, solid ground and pound, and several brilliant sweeps, including one that got him out of full mount. Look for Falcao to work his vicious kicks, something he abandoned in his last outing, back into his arsenal to disrupt Spang's timing. The winner of the middleweight final will meet Season Five Middleweight Tournament Champion Alexander Shlemenko for the vacant 185-pound world title.

Karl Amoussou and David Rickels enter their semifinal fight about as rested as can be heading into what will be their second fight in as many months. Rickels needed a mere 22 seconds to win his quarterfinal bout by knockout. It was a shift in gears for the Kansas native, who scored triangle wins in five of his 10 victories, including his three previous Bellator appearances. It was "The Caveman"'s first knockout win since his pro debut, and kept his perfect record intact. He'll face the toughest test of his career in Amoussou, who looks reinvigorated down at 170 pounds and training fulltime. A longtime undercover officer in his native France, Amoussou pieced together a commendable run while splitting training sessions with his day job. Now 100 percent focused on his fighting career, "Psycho" unloaded on Bellator vet Chris Lozano in the quarterfinals. After a tentative start, Amoussou cracked Lozano with a head kick before sweeping from Lozano's guard into mount and quickly locking in a fight-ending choke. It was a signature early storm early from Amoussou, who consistently sets a furious pace. Bryan Baker awaits the winner of Rickels vs. Amoussou in the welterweight finals.

In what's being rightfully billed as a No. 1 vs. No. 2 women's fight, Bellator veterans Megumi Fujii and Jessica Aguilar meet. The pair shares a mutual desire for a rematch against current Bellator Women's Champion Zoila Gurgel. Both Aguilar and Fujii suffered split decision losses to Gurgel in the semifinals and finals, respectively, of the first women's tournament. With no women's bracket taking shape since 2010, this without question the 115-pound division's biggest matchup in years. Since losing to Gurgel, Aguilar and Fujii have gone a combined 7-0. In her last Bellator outing, Aguilar displayed superior standup and avenged her first pro loss to Lisa Ellis-Ward, the only fighter to finish her. Fujii, meanwhile, returned to her native Japan and rattled off three straight victories, including another armbar finish. The once-beaten "Mega Megu" has earned submissions in 19 of her 25 career victories. While Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has been adamant about only awarding title shots to tournament winners, a fight of this magnitude could be a singular exception.

Kicking off the main card is a heavyweight tilt between tournament veteran Ron Sparks and promotional newcomer Kevin Asplund. Since losing in his pro debut, Asplund has rattled off 15-straight victories. The Minnesota native has a well balanced collection of knockouts and submissions, and showed a solid chin in both outings against Reese Hernandez. While his nickname "Concrete" speaks for both his hands and his chin, Sparks isn't exactly the guy you want to test the latter on. The once-beaten Sparks has scored six wins by knockout in his nine-fight career, including four in less than a minute. He flattened Mark Holata in 84 seconds last October before suffering his first career loss to eventual tournament winner Eric Prindle. With a place in the upcoming heavyweight tournament on the line, expect fireworks from the get go.

Before the main card, a stacked prelim card streams live at Light heavyweight tournament finalist Rich Hale welcomes former heavyweight Josh Burns to 205 pounds. Hale, who famously scored a win by inverted triangle in March 2011, is coming off of an 18-second knockout win in his last fight. Burns, meanwhile, is in the best shape of his career and is looking to reinvent himself at a new weight class. Previous tournament vets Holata and Abe Wagner meet in heavyweight action, with both looking to rebound from losses last season. Russian prospect Andrey Koreshkov returns to Bellator coming off an as-advertised performance in his promotional debut, an 86-second knockout. He battles fellow welterweight Derrick Krantz, who is coming off a first-round submission in his Bellator debut in March. Check out the full Bellator 69 card.

Prelims are live at at 7e/4p
Main card airs live on MTV2 and EPIX2 at 8/7c
Prelims continue at at 10e/7p