By Benjamin Bieker
Bellator’s eighth season kicks off this Thursday, and it is the first season that will air on Spike TV. With the light-heavyweight, welterweight, and lightweight tournaments already finalized it is now time for the middleweight finals. It is filled with returning veterans, fighters dropping weight, and a slew of new comers. So, lets take a look at what this tournament has in store for fans
Vitor Vianna vs. Andreas Spang
When Vitor Vianna first entered Bellator he was 10-1-1 with his only loss coming due to injury to UFC fighter Thiago Silva. He looked to be a real contender with wins over Ultimate Fighter alum Sam Alvey and two time bellator tournament finalist Bryan Baker. He lost a decision to current title contender Alexander Shlemenko, and then was knocked out by a flying knee from Brian Rogers. In the opening round, Vianna faces a hot head in Andreas Spang who has been involved in two altercations outside of his fights. Both fighters are evenly matched on the ground and feet, but it will be interesting to see how Vianna’s first knockout loss affects him.
Brian Rogers vs. Brett Cooper
Brian Rogers returns for the third time after failing in two past tournaments in the semifinal round. He is a knockout artist with eight KOs in ten wins. Cooper has always been seen as having potential, but he seems to slip up at the worst moment. On the radar for the octagon he was knocked out by Waachiim Spiritwolf in the first round, and only went 1-2 through his first three Bellator fights. Now, he has moved to 3-0 through has last few Bellator fights, and will have a tough test in the first round of this tournament.
Bruno Santos vs. Mikkel Parlo
Two of the lesser known fighters in the tournament come from this bout, but that does not make them any less dangerous. The undefeated Bruno Santos is a decision machine with 11 of his 13 victories coming by decision, and he took his biggest win over the veteran Giva Santana in March of last year. Parlo is another undefeated fighter with nine wins in his professional career, and another two in his amateur career. The way he fights could not be any more different from Santos. He only has one decision among his 11 career victories. Parlo may have to finish this fight, because he is going against the king of decisions.
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky vs. Dough Marshall
Doug Marshall is one of the bigger names in this tournament, because he once held the WEC light-heavyweight title before he was knocked out by Brian Stann. Unfortunately, a 1-3 span ruined a lot of momentum that Marshall had gained. Bellator took a chance on the veteran, and he came through with flying colors knocking out Hawaiian Kala Hose in just 22 seconds of the first round. The 18-2 Vasilevsky was on a 15 fight win streak until he ran into UFC veteran Maiquel Falcao, but he will have a chance to redeem himself after earning two TKOs in his home country of Russia. Hopefully, that momentum comes with him in his move back to America, because he will need it against Marshall.
What are your thoughts?