Bellator Fighting Championships will return to "The Copper State" this Saturday night (October 22, 2011) at the Cocopah Resort and Casino in Yuma, Arizona, live on MTV2.
The main card will air live on the basic cable network, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Bellator 55 will be the continuation of the promotion's season five bantamweight tournament with the semifinals. Season three finalist Ed West will take on highly touted Brazilian prospect Eduardo Dantas while former Olympic bronze medal winner Alexis Vila will battle gritty WEC veteran Marcos Galvao.
Our complete Bellator 55 preview and predictions after the jump:
135 lbs.: Ed West (17-5) vs. Eduardo Dantas (11-2)
Ed West proved his mettle the first time around, advancing to the Bellator season three finals before dropping a five round decision to Zach Makovsky in the championship bout. He proved he's a legitimate threat to advance to the finals again after defeating Luis Nogueira via unanimous decision in the quarterfinals. West has a strong arsenal of kicks and uses his range well. He's also very tricky on the ground.
Eduardo Dantas is one of the top prospects in the world at bantamweight and he proved it in the quarterfinals by crushing Wilson Reis with a flying knee in the round two. Dantas has terrific submission skills but he loves to stand and bang. He's extremely explosive and has power everywhere. He just needs room to use it.
Expect to see West either try to keep this fight at a severe distance where he can utilize his kicks or he might even change things up and utilize his improving wrestling skills to keep Dantas guessing. Dantas can close the distance at the drop of a hat with his explosiveness so West cannot make any mistakes.
Both men have their weaknesses. West sometimes is too comfortable on his back and Dantas had some issues dealing with the pressure that Wilson Reis put in his face in round one of his quarterfinal fight. This is a very evenly matched fight.
Prediction: Eduardo Dantas via decision
135 lbs.: Alexis Vila (10-0) vs. Marcos Galvao (10-4-1)
Cuban defector Alexis Vila turned into an instant star at bantamweight last month when he knocked Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren out cold with one huge left hook to the chin in barely one full minute. Vila didn't even get an opportunity to showcase his incredible wrestling credentials or his freak athleticism in the fight.
Galvao also had a strong performance in his quarterfinal match, defeating former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe via decision and halting the American's five fight winning streak in the process. Galvao is very well-rounded, with solid technique in the stand-up department and an extremely dangerous ground game, having been a two-time world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Vila will clearly have the power and wrestling edge while Galvao will have a better reach and submission skills. Look for Vila to try to get inside with his hooks in the stand-up or power double his way to the ground and blast Galvao there. The Brazilian will try to keep Vila at bay in the stand-up and then use his sweeps and submission skills if the bout goes to the ground. It should be an intriguing battle wherever this fight ends up.
Prediction: Alexis Vila via TKO in round two
205 lbs.: Christian M'Pumbu (18-3-1) vs. Travis Wiuff (65-14) 1 no contest
Despite being undersized, Christian M'Pumbu smashed his way through the Bellator light heavyweight tournament, defeating all three of his opponents via TKO to become the inaugural Bellator light heavyweight champion. M'Pumbu honestly should be fighting at 185, but he's so successful at 205 that he hasn't ever felt the need to cut weight. He's primarily a striker, he uses his speed well and it allows him to land on his opponents consistently as has significant power in both hands.
Travis Wiuff is a veteran of 80 professional fights. He primarily fights at the smaller shows, but has competed in bigger promotions like the UFC, Pride and Sengoku, although he's failed to find success there. He'll definitely be willing to stand and go toe-to-toe with M'Pumbu. If this bout is really at 205 pounds, Wiuff should have a serious weight advantage after rehydrating.
Expect to see M'Pumbu try to utilize his lateral quickness and land on his slower opponent while avoiding getting hit himself. Wiuff's best shot will be if he can either pin M'Pumbu against the fence and wear him down or to take him down and try to pound on him on the canvas. I don't know if he'll be able to catch M'Pumbu long enough to do that though.
Prediction: Christian M'Pumbu via TKO in round two
155 lbs.: Ricardo Tirloni (13-1) vs. Steve Gable (5-1)
Ricardo Tirloni was a big signing for Bellator back in August. He's been crushing his opposition primarily inside the first round throughout his career and his only loss was to current top UFC lightweight contender Ben Henderson in just his fourth professional fight. Tirloni trains with a great camp at Ataque Duplo alongside top fighters like Nazareno Malegarie and Thiago Tavares.
Steve Gable is a veteran of EliteXC and while he hasn't had as much experience in the cage as Tirloni, he's been fighting for nearly as long. He hasn't faced the level of competition that Tirloni has fought and he also hasn't competed in over a year.
This bout is likely expected to be a showcase of the fresh signee Tirloni, but Gable will probably give him a tough enough fight to allow him to showcase his full skill-set.
Prediction: Ricardo Tirloni via knockout in round two
So what do you think Maniacs?
Who's do you predict to advance to the finals of this loaded Bellator bantamweight tournament? Will Christian M'Pumbu pass the test of his first "superfight?"