By Benjamin Bieker
Two UFC castoffs and California natives are going to battle in an upcoming Bellator card that acts as the opener for Season 8. Jason “The Punisher” Lambert takes on Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez in a light-heavyweight battle at Bellator 85. Bellator 85 takes place in Irvine California which serves as the new base of operations for the company, on January 17th. The event is headlined by two title fights. The first is a lightweight title bout between newly crowned champion Michael Chandler and number one contender Rick Hawn. In featherweight title action, Pat Curran returns from injury to take on Patricio Freire who has been waiting quite a while to get his shot.
The light-heavyweight tournament also starts for the company on the same night with three of the opening round’s bouts hosted at this event. The first match pits former UFC light-heavyweight number one contender Renato Sobral against Mikhail Zayats. Sobral returned from a two year layoff at One FC last year to earn a first round submission. Zayats holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and is a master of sambo and hand-to-hand combat in his native Russia. With those credentials you know this match will be hitting the floor which will excite any grappling fan.
Next, Kimbo crusher Seth Petruzelli gets his shot at Bellator gold through this tournament after knocking out former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez in the promotion last year. He will take on 8-1 Jacob Noe. This has finish written all over it, because between the two fighters in nearly 30 fight there has only been three decisions win or lose. If this fight goes to decision it would be a surprise to a lot of people.
Lastly, Emanuel Newton gets a second chance after losing out to season seven tournament winner Atilla Vegh by a very close split decision. Standing in his way is Atanas Djambazov who has not seen the second round since a 2009 decision loss. In fact, all of his wins have been finishes with nine coming by TKO/KO, and then another eight by submission. Newton usually has trouble when the fight hits the mat, but that is something he has been working on since moving to Reign Training Center.
This is easily the most impressive list of fighters that Bellator has had in one tournament, and it gets even better when Muhammed Lawal makes his entry into the hunt for a title shot at the next event. This will also be the first event hosted on the promotions new channel Spike TV which was the original home of the UFC. WIth Viacom owning a large chunk of Bellator it will be interesting to see the changes that come in the new year.
What are your thoughts?