Most esteemed fight fans,
Consider this your personal invitation to unite at these exact coordinates later this evening to divvy out game-changing MMA dialogue. The topic of conversation will be tonight's Bellator 68 show that lights off at 8:00 p.m. ET on MTV2 (and EPIX in HD) from Caesars in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The big hurrah is a featherweight humdinger between Brazilian banger Marlon Sandro and savvy wrestler Daniel Straus to determine this year's Featherweight Tournament winner. The victor will earn a crack at newly minted champion Pat Curran's belt -- and in Sandro's case, the opportunity to avenge a brutal knockout loss in last year's tourney.
In a Bantamweight Tournament semifinal match, Marcos Galvao, who trains with Sandro and 145-pound overlord Jose Aldo at the prestigious Nova Uniao Academy, meets Jackson's MMA product Travis Marx.
Two former UFC fighters in Seth Petruzelli and Carmelo Marrero square off in a 230-pound catchweight affair. (See the update on this bout's cancellation below.) Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis reconvenes with Waachiim Spiritwolf to settle a Strikeforce Challengers 12 meeting in 2010 that ended in an early No Contest due to an unintentional eye-poke.
One hour of preliminary fights will stream live and free on Spike.com and Bellator.com at 7:00 p.m. ET. Live play-by-play begins with the main card on MTV2 and EPIX at 8:00 p.m. ET. The preliminary card lineup follows.
Update: Seth Petruzelli announced via his Facebook page that his fight with Carmelo Marrero is off. From Petruzelli's update: "Guys, I have unbelievable news. The doc wouldn't clear me to fight. I have been feeling sick for past week but haven't told anyone. When the doc checked me he said he heard weezing and fluid in my lungs. Got a 2nd doc for another opinion and he said same thing. I am so sorry...I feel like I'm in a nightmare."
The current live fight is directly below and the previous main card results are posted after the jump.
Marlon Sandro vs. Daniel Straus
R1: Hard right low kick from Sandro, then a leaping right and a body kick that Straus blocks. Straus' first offering is a blistering roundhouse kick that cracks loudly off Sandro's cup. The Brazilian is writhing in agony on the canvas and in dire need of his allotted 5-minute respite.
They begrudgingly touch gloves and resume with four-and-a-quarter left to go. Straus plunges a long jab and ducks under Sandro's counter-strikes to hit an outside trip. He maintains position briefly but Sandro works his way back to his feet. Sandro hits a counter-throw but Straus moves to his back, looking for the rear-naked choke. Sandro patiently wriggles free and they re-engage standing halfway through the round.
Inside low kick by Sandro; jabs from Straus. Straus connects with a one-two and dives for a double, then changes to a single when Sandro bangs hammerfists off his head. Sandro is back up and Straus gets the rear waist cinch, looking for a belly-to-back suplex; Sandro defends with a low base. Sandro's warned for grabbing the fence and Straus powers him to a knee briefly. They resume the back-waist cinch until the bell. 10-9 Straus, effective striking and grappling.
R2: Straus flings a jab and fakes a level drop. Overhand right from Sandro. Body kick from Straus, who shoots behind it. Sandro defends with a whizzer against the fence and eats some short knees from Straus. Sandro spins out with the single collar tie and they resume in the center. Crisp uppercut from Sandro as Straus is changing levels. Another uppercut; it doesn't land but Sandro's targeting Straus' head when it drops. Straus with a high kick that barely misses.
They trade uppercuts but Sandro tacks on two punches on the way out. Straus fakes a single; Sandro pulls back on a flying knee. This time he releases it but it's caught by Straus, but Sandro's too feisty to take down again. Sandro with a big overhand on one exchange and another huge uppercut and a knee on the next. 10-10 round for equal offense.
R3: They both coming out swinging to start the last stanza. Straus crisp with punches while Sandro loads up his lead hook and overhand right. They connect and it's Sandro pushing Straus on the fence. They break and Sandro leads with a left-right and Straus is quick with his straight counter. Straus uncorks a head kick and shoots. Sandro is too resilient, then snatches a single on Straus and slips around to the rear waist cinch.
Sandro puts a hook in and threatens to take the back, then snakes his arms around Straus' neck with a standing arm-triangle attempt, ala his Sengoku fight with Matt Jaggers. Straus "answers the phone" to defend for nearly a minute. He slips loose and we're back into open space with a minute left. Straus ducks a Sandro combination, latches onto his waist and tosses the Brazilian for a monster takedown. Straus takes his back in a flash and slaps on a rear-naked choke, but doesn't have two hooks in and can't finish before the bell. Another firecracker of a fight. 10-10; both fighters secured near fight-ending chokes with no clear striking advantage. I have it 30-29 Straus as we await the decision.
One judge has it 29-28, the others have it 30-27 for Daniel Straus, who defeats Marlon Sandro by unanimous decision.
Marcos Galvao vs. Travis Marx
R1: Galvao comes out countering Marx's punches with left-handed haymakers. Low kick snaps home for Galvao, then counters Marx's responding kick with a big right hand. Marx loses his balance but stands back up for a brief clinch. Galvao with another low kick and counter right. Marx fakes a shot and throws a right to the body. They collide in an exchange and Marx forces Galvao into the fence. Galvao gets double underhooks and spins free.
Galvao cracking left-hook counters with 2 low kicks, then 2 body kicks. Marx lands a chopping inside leg kick, but eats a flurry and a knee for his efforts. Marx clips Galvao with a short right. Now Galvao is stalking Marx and unloading heavy leather. He connects on another hook and Marx clinches up to quell the stream of punches. Elbow to the body from Marx in the over-under clinch. They break, Marx lands a leg kick and Galvao answers with a combination and a kick of his own to close an action-packed 1st round. 10-9 Galvao for more effective striking.
R2: Galvao establishes his power early and backs Marx up with 4-5 heaters. Unintentional cup-kick delivered by Galvao for a slight pause. Marx comes out swinging after the break but can't get the double and resumes the clinch on the cage wall. They trade a series of knees. They disengage and Galvao digs in with another sharp low kick. Now Galvao is grazed below the belt with a kick and restarts after a quick time-out.
Galvao snaps another low kick and times a straight knee when Marx drops levels and attacks. Marx lands a nice combo on the clinch-break. Galvao leg kick again. Marx turns up his output and leads 2-3 exchanges with quick hands. Galvao threatening with the knee to the body to keep Marx guessing. Marx still accelerating with busier punches and another clinch entanglement. Galvao slips loose. Galvao lands with the step-in knee. Right, left and body kick from Marx. 10-9 Marx for the higher volume of effective strikes.
R3: Step-in knee from Galvao is met with a Marx combo. Nice lead right by Marx, who follows with a left low kick. Shovel punch from Marx but he can't get the takedown. Galvao low kick. Marx answers with three. Make it four. Galvao noticeably more complacent. Low kick from Galvao. Marx answers again, then whiffs with a right. Galvao lands his left-counter on Marx's charging combo.
Galvao sticks him with another counter. Jab and low kick from Galvao, who is now turning the tide. More stalking punches from Galvao. They trade low kicks and Galvao's is much harder. Marx times a double and gets Galvao down, and Galvao gives up his back but stands up without issue. Marx pressuring Galvao with knees from the clinch. Low kick from Galvao misses, but his left doesn't. Another Galvao low kick and more punches. Step-in knee and right hands from Galvao, Marx sneaks in a counter. Great fight. 10-9 Galvao, though that was close enough to be 10-10. I have it 29-28 Galvao as we await the official decision.
All 3 judges see it 29-28 for Marcos Galvao, who defeats Travis Marx by unanimous decision.
R1: Kennington clips Held early with a punch and dives into his guard with punches. Held immediately attacks with his guard to put Kennington on the defensive and eventually escape. Kennington confident on the feet and stalking Held with combinations. Held backs him up with an aggressive 3-piece combo. Held pushes Kennington against the fence, seeking a double leg, but then craftily pulls guard and ties on a heel hook to elicit the tapout.
Marcin Held defeats Derrick Kennington by submission (heel hook), Round 1.
Marius Zaromskis vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf
R1: Big Dan Miragliotta will oversee the fighters. Zaromskis counters a Spiritwolf punch with a kick and they clinch on the fence. Spiritwolf circles off to push "The Whitemare" back onto the fence in the over-under. The ref intervenes due to inactivity, and Zaromskis leaps in with a creative back-elbow that tags Spiritwolf, opening a cut around his eye. Spiritwolf catches a Zaromskis high-kick and gets a nice double, but Zaromskis is right back to his feet. Spiritwolf gets the rear waist cinch and pulls Zaromskis on top of him for a takedown.
Zaromskis spins to face Spiritwolf and pelts him with some ground-and-pound to regain his footing. Spiritwolf presses against the fence with control-based intentions. Zaromskis reverses roles and pursues a double leg, but they stalemate and Miragliotta steps in again. Brief flurry from both fighters at the bell. 10-9 Zaromskis for effective striking and damage.
R2: Zaromskis wheels away from Spiritwolf's charge and wings a high kick. Spiritwolf answers with a nice right hand. Zaromskis cuts another angle on Spiritwolf and connects with strikes, then peppers Spiritwolf on the way in while he's barreling forward with his head down. Stiff left by Zaromskis, then a crisp one-two counter. Spiritwolf catches another head kick attempt and gets Zaromskis down briefly, but he's right back up. Knee to the body by Spiritwolf in the clinch; it's answered in triplicate by Zaromskis and followed by another high kick.
Spiritwolf wobbles Zaromskis in an exchange, chases him down and drops him with a right. Zaromskis is in danger of having the fight stopped but eventually regains his wits and a full guard. Great work by Miragliotta in giving him a chance to recover. The round ends with Spiritwolf throwing moderate ground-and-pound in Zaromskis' full guard. 10-8 Spiritwolf for obvious damage and nearly finishing.
In another controversial and dramatic stoppage, the ringside physician has deemed Spiritwolf unfit to continue due to the cut Zaromskis opened in the 1st round. The official decision: Marius Zaromskis defeats Waachiim Spiritwolf by TKO (cut), Round 2.