Bellator V middleweight tournament preview and predictions for May 1 event

After a one week hiatus, Bellator Fighting Championships 12-part weekly tournament series is set to return to the ESPN Deportes airwaves for event number five this Friday, May 1, at the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

As always, the action will air via tape delay 24 hours later on the Spanish version of The Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN Deportes.

The card will feature the semifinal match ups from the promotion's lightweight tournament. On one side of the bracket, Philadelphia native Eddie Alvarez will square off against Eric Reynolds, while Jorge Masvidal and Toby Imada will look to make their way into the final round from the other side.

The non-tournament portion of the event will showcase three heavyweight bouts, one of which will pit former Elite XC stand out Dave "Pee Wee" Herman against Josh Barnes, and another involving one time UFC fighter Sherman Pendergarst.

We’ve taken a closer look at the two featured fights, which are the semifinal match ups from the lightweight tournament, to give you a taste of what to expect from the latest mixed martial arts offering.

Here we go:

Eddie Alvarez (16-2) vs. Eric Reynolds (10-1):

Both of these guys advanced to this final four with first round stoppage victories on the inaugural Bellator event last month. Alvarez submitted Greg Loughran with a guillotine choke, while Reynolds was able to stop Thomas Schulte with strikes.

While both have solid records and have proven to be top notch finishers, it's Alvarez whose faced the stiffer competition to this point in their respective careers.

In fact, besides Schulte, the other nine opponents Reynolds has beaten own a combined record of (19-32). Meanwhile, Alvarez has been mixing it up with guys like Shinya Aoki, Joachim Hanson, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Nick Thompson and others over the past few years.

There's no question Alvarez has faced, and beaten, better mixed martial artists than Eric Reynolds. Reynolds, on the other hand, has only fought four guys with winning records, one of which he lost by first round knockout.

If there were seeds assigned to each of the fighters in this tournament, this would clearly be the #1 seed (Alvarez) facing the #4 (Reynolds). Does that mean Reynolds can't win this fight? No, but it certainly isn't likely.

Alvarez will be stronger, more athletic, he'll hit harder, he'll have better wrestling, and he's proven time and time again that he can take a hit and keep on coming. Reynolds will have to be at the top of his game to have a chance in this one.

Final Prediction: Eddie Alvarez via first round technical knockout

Jorge Masvidal (17-3) vs. Toby Imada (21-12):

While Masvidal has always been considered the favorite to face Alvarez in the final of this tournament, many people (myself included), have kept a close eye on Imada, labeling him the dark horse to to make a run in this thing.

The Los Angeles resident is a scrappy dude with a some good size for the lightweight division. He's submitted 13 of his 21 career victims, including Alonzo Martinez with a rear naked choke in the first round of this tournament at Bellator I. He comes in on a seven fight win streak, having also taken 9 out of his last 10.

The Dawg Pound trainee faced a lot of tough competition during the early part of his career. Dealing with the adversity of losing to guys like Mayhem Miller, Hermes Franca, Jake Shields, Joe Stevenson and others have helped to mold him into the quality fighter he is today.

While he leans on his submissions to win fights, his opponent is the complete opposite stylistically.

Masvidal finds himself in this semifinal after having stopped Nick Agallar with strikes just over a minute into their first round fight.

"Gamebred" is a very good striker, with a ton of power. He also has a nice ground and pound game as well. He doesn't mess around with trying to submit his opponents, he just wants to punch them in the face and put them to sleep, and he's been successful in doing that nine times so far in his career. The American Top Team product has fought 20 professional fights, winning 17 of them, but not one of those wins have come by submission.

This is an intriguing match up because of the contrast in styles. If Imada can weather Masvidal's early storm, he'll have a decent chance to steal this fight. Of course, that's a whole lot easier said than done.

Masvidal trains with a much better camp and he's faced the tougher opposition recently, having beaten Ryan Schultz, Yves Edwards and Ryan Healey in the past two years. Imada, on the other hand, has been padding the win column with fights against guys like Jason Meaders, Shad Smith and Preston Scharf, who are all very tough guys, but not necessarily the cream of the crop in the mixed martial arts world.

Look for this to be a very competitive fight, but Masvidal should be better prepared to move on to the final.

Final Prediction: Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision

Check out the lineup for BFC V in it's entirety below:

Lightweight Tournament Semifinal Bouts:

155 lbs.: Eddie Alvarez (16-2) vs. Eric Reynolds (10-1)
155 lbs.: Jorge Masvidal (17-3) vs. Toby Imada (21-12)

Non-Tournament Preliminary Bouts:

265 lbs.: Dave "Pee Wee" Herman (13-1) vs. Josh Barnes (3-1)
265 lbs.: Raoul Romero (3-1) vs. Dan Evensen (10-4)
155 lbs.: Matt "Jager Bomb" Jaggers (10-5) vs. Pete Dominguez (1-1)
170 lbs.: Frank Carabello (3-0) vs. Waylon Lowe (3-2)
265 lbs.: Joey Beltran (6-2) vs. Sherman "The Tank" Pendergarst (11-12)
115 lbs.: Jessica Pene (5-0) vs. Tammie Schneider (3-5)

Next week Bellator Fighting Championships VI will head over to the Central Pavilion Arena in Robstown, Texas for the highly anticipated semifinal match-ups from the 145-pound featherweight tournament. Former Elite XC champion Wilson Reis will battle fellow undefeated fighter Joe Soto for the right to face the winner between Yahir Reyes and Estevan Payan in the tournament's championship final.

You definitely won’t want to miss that.

To catch up on all the latest from Bellator Fighting Championships click here.

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