Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Mountain State" this Friday night (June 22, 2012) at the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Chester, West Virginia.
The main card will air live on MTV2 and Epix HD on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event of Bellator 71 will be the final quarterfinal bout of the Bellator "Summer Series" light heavyweight tournament between Travis Wiuff and Chris Davis. Wiuff shook the Bellator "Superfight" system to its very foundations after defeating light heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu last October via unanimous decision and now he's on the warpath to actually take the title this time around.
Also on tap are the remainder of the Bellator 'Summer Series" light heavyweight tournament quarterfinals which includes former finalist Richard Hale, season five middleweight quarterfinalist Zelg Galesic, Slovakian Attila Vegh, part-time police officer Beau Tribolet, former MFC light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton and Renzo Gracie fighter Roy Boughton.
Our Bellator 71 preview and predictions are posted after the jump:
Travis Wiuff is a huge veteran of the sport, having fought at light heavyweight and heavyweight throughout his 11-year, 81-fight professional career. Wiuff has been on a nice run as of late, going 11-1-1 in his last 14 fights which includes victories over Jeff Monson and Bellator 205 lb. champ Christian M'Pumbu.
Chris Davis is pretty solid wrestler himself but he has been completely out of action ever since losing to current champion Christian M'Pumbu in the quarterfinals of the Bellator season four light heavyweight tournament via third round knockout.
Wiuff is HUGE as a light heavyweight and will likely be stepping into the cage at 230 pounds. While both men are decent wrestlers, Wiuff's size advantage will help him grind out the fight whether it's on the fence or on the canvas. If Davis has an advantage, it's his speed and conditioning. Wiuff tends to slow down late so if Davis can force Wiuff to chase him around a bit, he could improve his odds. Unfortunately, I think it'll be too little too late for him.
Final Prediction: Travis Wiuff via decision
Zelg Galesic last made an appearance for Bellator in the season five middleweight tournament quarterfinals, but he would be quickly choked out via a standing guillotine along the fence by current number one contender Alexander Shlemenko. He bounced back by scoring a beautiful 34 second knockout over former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall at Super Fight League 2 earlier this year.
Attila Vegh is a fighter that Bellator had its sights set on for a while. He cruised through the European circuit, going undefeated in five 2011 fights and he made his Bellator debut at Bellator 64, scoring a rather uninspired split decision against Ohio fighter Dan Spohn.
Galesic has a punchers chance, but Vegh is very well-rounded, owning nine knockouts and 10 submissions. If Galesic doesn't clip Vegh early, I believe Vegh will simply clinch or take him down, scoring an inevitable submission or ground and pound stoppage, taking advantage of Galesic's size disadvantage and his weakness on the ground.
Final Prediction: Attila Vegh via submission in round one
Richard Hale is a favorite to win this tournament. He exploded onto the scene after scoring an incredibly impressive inverted triangle over Nik Fekete. "Rare Breed" is a former boxer with some very powerful striking, having scored two first minute knockouts since losing a title shot to current Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu.
There isn't much information out there on Beau Tribolet. He's a former SWAT team member, former power-lifter and a current police officer in the Tucson, Arizona area. He lost his professional debut but avenged the loss and has reeled off seven straight victories in mixed martial arts including a very impressive first round TKO against UFC veteran Chase Gormley last August.
Hale is experienced, motivated and has looked unstoppable ever since losing his bout for the Bellator title. If Hale can keep this fight standing, I'm certain that he'll knock Tribolet out, but there's no guarantee that Tribolet will want to stand and trade with him. Tribolet is freakishly strong and could present some serious problems if the fight goes to the clinch or on the ground if he's on top. That being said, I feel Hale is going to clip Tribolet at some point.
Final Prediction: Richard Hale via knockout in round one
Roy Boughton is a talented young light heavyweight out of Cesar Gracie's gym in California. While most of his career he's been a submission fighter, he's most recently began developing his striking, scoring a pair of TKOs in his two most recent bouts. He also holds a 2010 victory over Murilo "Ninja" Rua.
Emanual Newton is the former MFC light heavyweight champion. After a rough stretch in 2009 which saw him lose his title, he's reeled off five straight victories including very impressive stoppages of UFC veterans Rodney Wallace and most recently a first round submission over James McSweeney.
Boughton will be a gamer for sure, but his 2011 decision loss to Sokoudjou scares me a bit. I think Newton will have the striking edge while Boughton is likely the better ground technician. Boughton doesn't possess great takedown ability, however, and that could definitely work against him. I feel Newton will be able to capture a decision with his superior stand-up skills.
Final Prediction: 'Emanuel Newton via decision
There's plenty more action on this card as former Strikeforce title challenger Brett Rogers will be making his Bellator promotional debut against the undersized 15-1 Kevin Asplund and a pair of light heavyweight alternate bouts will also be taking place.
Will you be giving Bellator some attention this Friday night despite the fact it'll be running nearly head-to-head with UFC on FX 4? Who are your favorites to win the tournament?