Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Magnolia State" this Friday night (August 24, 2012) at Harrah's Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunicia, Mississippi.
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 73 will be the Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight tournament finale between veteran Travis Wiuff and European standout Attila Vegh. Both men will be vying for $100,000 and a shot at current Bellator Light Heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu (who Wiuff already defeated via decision in a "superfight" last year).
Also on tap is the continuation Bellator season six bantamweight finals between Brazilians Marcos Galvao and Luis Nogueira. Originally intended to take place, the fight was delayed due to injury. The winner has already been penciled in to fight reigning Bellator 135 pound champion Eduardo Dantas this upcoming November.
Lastly, opening up the card will be a heavyweight attraction as Ryan Martinez and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10 veteran Mike Wessel expect to slug it out for a potential heavyweight tournament qualifier.
Our Bellator 73 preview and predictions are posted after the jump:
205 lbs.: Travis Wiuff (68-14) vs. Attila Vegh (27-4--2)
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 12-1-1 in his last 15 fights which includes victories over Jeff Monson and Bellator 205 lb. champ Christian M'Pumbu. He dominated Chris Davis in the quarterfinals and then completely smothered Tim Carpenter in the semis to easily advance to the finals of this tournament.
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 Galesic in the quarterfinals, rocking the Bosnian and then finishing him with a choke in just one minute, but he got tested mightily against Emanuel Newton in the semis, fighting passively and winning what many considered a controversial decision.
This fight is all about speed and power. Wiuff is one of the largest and most powerful light heavyweights in the world, usually stepping into the cage at a ridiculous 240 pounds following his rehydration. Vegh is going to have major problems if he allows himself to be pressed into the fence and/or taken down. If Vegh can keep his distance and try to crack Wiuff with punches, he'll have a chance. Also, with all the weight Wiuff cuts, he could slow down as the fight wears on so Vegh could deck him late if he can force Wiuff to expend a lot of energy.
Final Prediction: Travis Wiuff via decision
135 lbs.: Marcos Galvao (12-5-1) vs. Luis Nogueira (14-2)
Marcos Galvao just couldn't catch a break. He should have been the first man to defeat a Bellator champion in a superfight but the judges sided with Joe Warren. Then, in the last 135 pound tournament, he should have defeated Alexis Vila but he lost another controversial decision. He's been much more aggressive this time around, winning hard-fought decisions against both Ed West and Travis Marx to advance to the tournament finals.
Luis Nogueira is all about second chances. He lost in quarterfinals of the last Bellator bantamweight tournament but he showed up for the season six tourney extra motivated, defeating finalist Alexis Vila in the quarterfinals and then emphatically finishing Hiroshi Nakamura via knockout in the semifinals to earn his shot at $100,000.
Galvao clearly has the experience edge and he's got one of the better ground games in the division, but he doesn't use it unless he absolutely has to. He's been content to stalk his opponents and outstrike them on the feet. Nogueira is a little bit younger and while he doesn't have Galvao's technique on the feet, he makes up for it with power. If this fight stays standing, it should be extremely entertaining as both bantamweights can slug it out with the best of them.
Final Prediction: Marcos Galvao via decision
265 lbs.: Ryan Martinez (7-1) vs. Mike Wessel (11-4)
Ryan Martinez really burst onto the map when he defeated former national champion wrestler Mark Ellis via unanimous decision, handing the American Kickboxing Academy fighter his first career defeat. Ellis hasn't fought since either, so Martinez definitely left an impression. Hailing from Colorado, Martinez has looked pretty sturdy in his young career, winning both of his fights with Pro Elite in their heavyweight prospect showcase tournament.
Mike Wessel is a UFC veteran, although it was brief. He lost to Antoni Hardonk back at UFC 92 and was given a second chance as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, although he would again lose, this time to Marcus Jones in his preliminary bout. Since then, Wessel has gone 3-2, losing to the two most experienced opponents he's faced.
Wessel has some power, but he has trouble winning the big one. I think this fight will be entertaining, but in the end, Martinez has significantly more potential than Wessel. Wessel has folded when hit hard or put in a dangerous submission so I wouldn't be surprised if Martinez scores a finish at some point.
Final Prediction: Ryan Martinez via submission in round one.
Will you be giving Bellator some attention this Friday night despite the loss of the incredible Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire fight? What bout intrigues you the most?