This Friday, February 28, Bellator returns with the launch of season 10, live on Spike TV. All Bellator shows air live on Spike TV, with the main card starting at 9 p.m. ET and pre-show prelims airing live on Spike.com. Full cards, including prelims, are at Bellator.com.
In this two part series, we are setting aside the backstage business talk and focusing squarely on the cage. What big fights await is in season 10? We'll see, right here.
If you missed it, click here for part 1, highlighting the first three shows of the season with fights from Rampage Jackson, King Mo, and two title fights. Here, we look at the back half of the upcoming season in our Bellator season 10 preview part 2. One quick note - because of Bellator's tournament structure, there are of course far less announced fights for these later cards. We'll know more as the season's tournaments unfold.
Bellator 113, March 21
Light Heavyweight World Title: Attila Vegh vs. Emanuel Newton
Lightweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Marcin Held vs. Rodrigo Cavalheiro; David Rickels vs. Patricky Pitbull; Terry Etim vs. Derek Anderson; Derek Campos vs. Brandon Girtz (prelims)
Ah Vegh vs. Newton. I said I would focus on the fights, not the business side, but it's hard to avoid how this fight came to be. After some sketchy and questionable moves to create a Newton vs. King Mo interim title fight, Bellator puts the actual champ back in action here for what is, in theory, a title unification fight. Setting aside the bad taste from the Mo situation, this is indeed an interesting fight. Both men have been on point lately in Bellator, with Newton in particular looking strong in his run to the belt. These two met in 2012, with Vegh taking the close split decision win, but that was by no means a dominant victory, and a rematch is absolutely warranted. This will be a close one, though you have to think the momentum is with Newton.
The Lightweight tournament includes some very enjoyable fighters, particularly the submission wiz Held, the always enjoyably goofy Rickels, and UFC veteran Etim. Etim takes on Derek Anderson, who is coming off a win over tournament participant Pitbull, and could be an interesting challenger here. Rickels vs. Held is the easy pick for the finals, but this is a tournament with a number of possible outcomes.
Middleweight champion Shlemenko looks to make his third defense of the belt since winning it just over a year ago. That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, particularly given the wait we sometimes see for Bellator champions to step in to the cage. Long one of the best in the division, Shlemenko has been dominant in Bellator, fighting frequently and defeating everyone. His lone Bellator loss came against then champion Hector Lombard. He recently signed a new contract extension, so expect to see him atop this division for some time to come. Ward is the season 9 champion. He looked good in that tournament, but has his work cut out for him here.
In the other featured fight, Rad Martinez fights in front of a hometown crowd against Edson Berto. Martinez is an incredibly inspirational fighter whose dedication to his family is simply amazing. This is his first fight in over a year, as he has been on the sidelines since his tournament final loss to Shamhalaev.
Add in the season 10 Heavyweight tournament, and you discover an amazing fact - Bellator's Heavyweight division has gotten really interesting. For some time this was the company's weak area, but with an influx of new talent, the division is now set for a lot of intriguing match-ups. Here, champion Minakov makes his first title defense, and it is a tough one. With his heavy hands, Minakov has been fantastic in Bellator - the ease with which he took the belt from Alexander Volkov was scary. But Cheick Kongo, despite being cut from the UFC last year, remains one of the division's top fighters. He's 2-0 in Bellator, running through the Season 9 Heavyweight tournament. Expect him to try to outgrapple the striker Minakov in a quality title fight.
The departure of champion Ben Askren left a hole in the Bellator Welterweight title picture, and here, Hawn and Lima fight to fill that hole. Both of these fighters are well established in Bellator, with 4 tournament wins between them. Hawn won one of those tournaments at Lightweight, but moved back up to 170 to win season 9, while Lima is the season 8 champion. This should be a very physical, hard-hitting fight, and one where it is tough to predict a winner. Watch out for this to be one of the best fights of the season.
Join Bloody Elbow for ongoing Bellator coverage all season.