Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Sunshine State" this Friday night (July 20, 2012) at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida.
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 72 will be the Bellator season six welterweight finals between former middleweights Bryan Baker and Karl Amoussou. Both Baker and Amoussou utilized their size and strength to advance to the tournament finals and they will be looking to earn that $100,000 and a shot at welterweight champion Ben Askren with a victory,
Also on tap is the continuation of the Bellator light heavyweight "Summer Series" tournament which will include two semifinals bouts as Travis Wiuff takes on Tim Carpenter and Emanuel Newton battles Attila Vegh.
Lastly, former UFC and Strikeforce standout Paul Daley will be making his promotional debut with Bellator and a much-anticipated trilogy fight between Waachiim Spiritwolf and Marius Zaromskis is scheduled.
Our Bellator 72 preview and predictions are posted after the jump:
170 lbs.: Bryan Baker (18-3) vs. Karl Amoussou (15-4--2)
Bryan Baker is a former Bellator middleweight tournament finalist and semifinalist. He came up short both times via knockout and decided it was time to test the waters at welterweight. After a brutal weight cut, he was able to grind out decision victories against both Carlos Alexandre Pereira and Ben Saunders to advance to the finals.
Karl Amoussou is a former middleweight as well who had success all over the world but failed to win the big fights. A drop to welterweight changed everything. He destroyed Chris Lozano in the season six quarterfinals and then toughed out a victory against the extremely game David Rickels to advance to the tournament finals.
Amoussou's biggest issue here is his gas tank. He is incredibly strong in the first round with throws, punches and elbows but when he hits that midway point of the second round, his conditioning has failed him time and time again. If Baker can wear him out and weather the early storm, he can definitely at least earn a decision victory if not a late stoppage.
Final Prediction: Bryan Baker via TKO in round three
205 lbs.: Travis Wiuff (66-14 1 NC) vs. Tim Carpenter (9-1)
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. He dominated Chris Davis in his last fight, pressing him into the fence then finishing him off with ground and pound on the canvas.
Tim Carpenter is a very talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. He fought in a wide range of promotions before competing in the first ever Bellator light heavyweight tournament. After making it to the semifinals, he was knocked out by eventual champion Christian M'Pumbu. He wasn't originally slated to be in this season's tournament, but he was an alternate and stepped in on one day's notice for Richard Hale, winning via second round armbar to advance.
Wiuff is HUGE as a light heavyweight and will likely be stepping into the cage at 230 pounds. Carpenter will need to utilize his speed and power in the stand-up and try to stick and move. If he stands still for too long, Wiuff is going to press him into the fence and wear him down with takedown attempts and punches. Carpenter is a terrific submission fighter, but Wiuff is probably too experienced and strong for that. I think Wiuff will tire him out and at the worst, grind out a decision.
Final Prediction: Travis Wiuff via decision
205 lbs.: Emanuel Newton (18-6-1) vs. Attila Vegh (26-4-2)
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. He looked solid against Roy Boughton in the quarterfinals, slamming him to the ground and eventually finishing him with a rear naked choke.
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. Vegh proved his toughness against Zelg Gelesic in the quarterfinals, rocking the Bosnian and then finishing him with a choke in just one minute.
Vegh is likely going to be looking to stand and bang while Newton wants to clinch and throw Vegh around the cage. Newton is very big and powerful and his throws can change the course of the fight. He tossed Boughton and created an opening in a scramble for an easy rear naked choke. He can definitely do the same to Vegh if he doesn't get clipped on the feet..
Final Prediction: Emanuel Newton via submission in round two
170 lbs.: Paul Daley (29-12-2) vs. Rudy Bears (14-10)
Paul Daley has been a staple of the UK fighting scene and has widely been considered one of the most powerful strikers in the welterweight division. He was on the verge of a 170 pound title shot in the UFC before getting released after a sucker punch to Josh Koscheck and after signing with Strikeforce, he actually earned a shot although he would come up short to Nick Diaz. Now he's signed with Bellator and he'll be making his debut on Friday.
Rudy Bears can always be counted on to put on a good fight. The Kansas City area fighter can usually be found on any event in that vicinity but he's always been game in the Bellator promotion as well. When they needed someone to take on Daley, he gladly stepped up for a shot.
Daley is extremely motivated and looking to make an example of Bears, especially after losing his last fight to Kazuo Misaki in Strikeforce. I think he's going to come out like a bat out of hell and there's nothing Bears can do about it.
Final Prediction: Paul Daley via knockout in round one
170 lbs.: Marius Zaromskis (17-6) 1 NC vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-10-1) 1 NC
Boy these guys have some history. Zaromskis, the Dream welterweight champion and Spiritwolf, one of the most game and entertaining brawlers in the 170 pound division, have now battled twice to controversial finishes.
They first met in Strikeforce where an inadvertent eye poke from "Whitemare" forced and end to the bout before it had barely began.Last time, Zaromskis started strong but was on the ropes in the second round after eating some huge punishment from Spiritwolf. Unfortunately, the doctor stopped the fight before the third round could begin much to the dismay of both Spiritwolf and the fans in attendance and watching on TV.
I expect both men to come out swinging with Zaromskis getting the better of the striking early. If Spiritwolf clips him, however, he's going to charge in guns blazing and look to finish the head kick specialist this time around. Something tells me Spiritwolf will feed off the momentum of the last bout. Maybe I'm crazy.
Final Prediction: Waachiim Spiritwolf via decision
There's plenty more action on this card as UFC veteran and Bellator welterweight standout Ben Saunders is also in action against "Unbreakable" Brian Warren.
Will you be giving Bellator some attention this Friday nigh after they weren't on TV last month? What do you expect in Paul Daley's debut?