Season 10 of Bellator MMA begins on Friday, March 7, 2014 with Bellator 111, which will air live on Spike TV from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and feature a bantamweight world title bout between Eduardo Dantas and challenger Rafael Silva.
The event will also feature the opening round of the Bellator heavyweight tournament, with the winner earning the right to face either Cheick Kongo or Vitaly Minakov at a later date.
Have a look (click to enlarge):
Of the nine participants, five jump out to me as viable favorites to end up as the victor when season 10 concludes.
Alexander Volkov, who most recently fought Minakov at Bellator 108 for the division title, as well as Peter Graham, a former K-1 Grand Prix Champion. No stranger to the Bellator cage, Ryan Martinez is ready to get back under the bright lights and will take on knockout kingpin Lavar Johnson.
Both known for their powerful striking, Martinez will have to avoid the heavy hands of Johnson, who has won 15 of his 17 victories by knockout.
"I am finally 100 percent healed up with my hand and Lavar is a great fight for me," Martinez said. "He likes to stand up and bang just like me, which makes for an exciting fight and a great opening round. I am just thrilled to be back into the tournament."
After fighting his way into the Bellator heavyweight tournament final last season, Peter Graham looks for redemption as he faces Mighty Mo in the opening round. Knowing what it takes to reach the top, Graham is anxious to make his way back to the finals.
The tournament will round out with a battle of veterans as former heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov will face Mark Holata. After being defeated by Minakov last November, Volkov has gone back to the drawing board and the resilient heavyweight is eager to get back into the Bellator cage.
Entering his first Bellator tournament, Blagoi Ivanov looks to keep his undefeated record intact, as he faces Rich "Rare Breed" Hale. Coming off of a first round submission win against Keith Bell in November, Blagoi will put his skills to the test in a fight against Hale.