Bellator Announces Details and Participants for ESPND Debut



THE MMAJunkie blog site reports:

Bellator Fighting Championships' April 3 debut now has a location. 

The ESPN Deportes-backed organization today announced its premiere event will take place at the Hard Rock Live arena at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. 

The organization will launch three of its four eight-man tournaments at the event, and featured opening-round matchups include lightweights Eddie Alvarez (16-2) vs. Daniel Morales (5-1) and Jorge Masvidal (16-3) vs. Diego Garijo (3-1). 


The organization is hosting eight-man tournaments in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions, though the initial show won't include any welterweight opening-round fights. 

In addition to Alvarez vs. Morales and Masvidal vs. Garijo, three featherweight bouts are official: Nick Gonzalez (14-6) vs. Yahir Reyes (12-5), Joe Soto (4-0) vs. Ben Greer (11-4), and Estevan Payan (6-1) vs. Luis Palomino (9-4).


Here are the matchups for their April 3rd debut in Florida:

The latest card now includes: 
155 tourney: Eddie Alvarez (16-2) vs. Daniel Morales (5-1)
155 tourney: Jorge Masvidal (16-3) vs. Diego Garijo (3-1)
145 tourney: Wilson Reis (6-0) vs. Henry Martinez (2-0)* 
145 tourney: Nick Gonzalez (14-6) vs. Yahir Reyes (12-5)
145 tourney: Joe Soto (4-0) vs. Ben Greer (11-4)
145 tourney: Estevan Payan (6-1) vs. Luis Palomino (9-4)
Non-tourney: Jessica Aguilar (5-2) vs. TBA

* - Not officially announced


This news comes after Bellator's announcement of 5 new signees to the budding promotion for the upcoming tournaments:

Joining their respective divisions' tourneys are lightweight Daniel Morales, welterweights Omar De La Cruz and Jorge Ortiz, and featherweights Estevan Payan and Luis Palomino. 

Morales (5-1), a former Cage of Fire lightweight champion, turned pro in 2006. The former Lion's Den fighter is now based out of Mexico with the Pitbull Gym. Four of his five career victories have come via stoppage. 

De La Cruz (3-1), a former middleweight dropping to welterweight with Bellator, is a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. The medical student is widely regarded as the Domincan Republic's top fighter, and his only career loss came via split decision. 

Ortiz (15-4), a top Mexican fighter who will drop from middleweight to welterweight, is 7-1 since a loss to Eugene Jackson in his lone Strikeforce appearance. "The Naked Man" has posted stoppages in 12 of his 15 career victories. Not one to shy away from tough competition, he's previously defeated "The Ultimate Fighter" alumns Price Mclean and Jason Guida, and his few losses have to the likes of Jon Fitch, Joey Villasenor and Jesse Taylor. 

Payan (6-1), a former staff sergeant in the U.S. military with three tours of duty in Iraq, recently won the Rage in the Cage welterweight title. The Arizona Combat Sports fighter turned pro in October 2007 and drops to featherweight after previously competing as a welterweight and lightweight. 

Palomino (9-4), born in Peru, is a former boxer praised for his punching power and solid jiu-jitsu skills. A protege of former UFC heavyweight champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Palomino captured the U.S. Fight League lightweight title in 2008, a year in which he went 3-1. He'll fight at 145 pounds with Bellator. 

The latest additions join other Bellator signees such as Eddie Alvarez, Jorge Masvidal, Wilson Reis, Hector Lombard and Lyman Good.


The tournament is starting to shape up nicely for Bellator, but how much recognition and coverage will Bellator FC receive airing in the mysterious ESPN Deportes, which is part of the Spanish Subscription Package service providers offer.  Bellator made an announcement that they would try to distribute the shows through other vehicles in English, for example ESPN's website or another network, but not much has been heard about the subject since.

On top of ESPND being cumbersome or inaccessible for most to order, Bellator will also be running this tournament at the same time that Sengoku and DREAM will be hosting their FW and WW GP's on HDNet.  These 3 promotions will surely keep MMA fans happy for the next 3 months, and with great fighters like Alvarez, Reis, and Masdival, one hopes that Bellator GP doesn't get lost in that shuffle.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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