Bellator 71 begins the promotion's Summer Series on Friday, June 22, with Brett Rogers and a slew of light heavyweights.
Brett Rogers' search for redemption and the search for the next opponent for Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu kick off a week from this Friday with Bellator Fighting Championships' annual Summer Series, three events designed to bridge between seasons.
Rogers (11-4) will return to action in a non-tournament fight against former training partner and friend Kevin Asplund. Rogers was released by Strikeforce last year after an arrest for domestic violence. After serving jail time, he was inked by the promotion earlier this month. He has lost four of his last five fights. Asplund (15-1) has won 15 straight fights but hasn't competed since June of last year.
The Chester, West Virginia, event will also feature four light heavyweight fights as the promotion still needs a challenger for M'Pumbu, who defeated Richard Hale in the championship finals last May. The champ has only fought once since then, an October 'superfight' loss to Travis Wiuff that would have earned Wiuff a title shot in most circumstances.
Check out the pairings and familiar faces returning after the jump.
Wiuff (66-14-0-1) will get his opportunity to earn a shot by winning the latest 205-pound tournament, facing Chris Davis (10-3) in the quarterfinals. The journeyman has won four in a row, last decisioning Anthony Gomez in March. Davis was TKO'd by M'Pumbu last March and hasn't competed since.
Hale (19-4-1) returns for another crack at winning the title, opening the tournament against Beau Tribolet (7-1). Since losing to M'Pumbu, he's won his last two by TKO and has won six of his last seven. Tribolet makes his promotional debut on a seven-fight win streak with finishes in all of them.
The remaining two fights have names not familiar to casual MMA fans, something Bellator has thrived on since its debut.
Attila Vegh (25-4-2) is well traveled and gets his first tournament opportunity against Zelg Galesic (11-6). Vegh made his Bellator debut in April with a decision win. Galesic returns to the promotion where he was last seen losing to top 185-pounder Alexander Shlemenko. He's 2-2 in sparse action since 2009.
In the final bout, Roy Boughton (8-2) and Emanuel Newton (17-6-1) each make their Bellator debuts. Boughton has fought some higher profile opponents like Murilo Rua and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, entering the fight a winner in his last three. Newton has won five straight and has shown a propensity toward submission victories.