On Friday July 20th, Bellator FC returns to Florida bellator 72. It will be their first appearance in the state for 2012 and the first appearance of the promotion in Tampa. Their last show was in Hollywood, Fl back in November. That card featured the lightweight championship match between Eddie Alavarez and Michael Chandler. It what was one of the fights of the year, Chandler walked away the new champion with an impressive submission of former champ Alavarez. The card in Tampa will also feature a welterweight tournament title fight. The winner gets $100,000 and a fight with current Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren. The bout features Bellator veteran Bryan Baker who makes his 3rd appearance to try and become a tournament champion, but his first at 170 since moving down from middleweight this season. His opponent is dangerous Frenchman Karl Amoussou, who made it to the finals with very close split decision win over David Rickels in May. Both fighters like to throw punches and someone getting knocked out is quite possible in this main event.
The main card will also debut Paul Daley (29-12-2) in Bellator. The Englishman has fought in the UFC and Strikeforce, where he lost a split decision to Kazuo Misaki. Daley is known for having heavy hands and will face journeyman and Bellator veteran Rudy Bears (14-10). Rounding out the main card is Waachiim Spiritwolf, who is looking to end a 3 fight loss slump against Marius Zaromskis (17-6). The light heavyweight semi-finals has Emanuel Newton (18-6-1) vs. Attila Vegh (26-4-2), and Tim Carpenter (9-1) vs. Travis Wiuff (67-14), who is on a 5 fight win streak and fought just last month at Bellator 71, earning his spot in the semi finals. The light heavyweights are fighting for the finals of the season 6 light heavyweight tournament, so expect some action!
The prelim card will also feature many Florida fighters, including three from Tampa. Chris “Beastboy” Barnett will be taking on fellow heavyweight Tom Sauer, who hails from Ocala. Barnett previously fought for local promotion XFC but since has moved on after his contract was up. Tampa fighter Matt McCook (8-5) is looking to rebound after 2 consecutive losses against undefeated Shanon Slack (4-0). Paul Barrow (4-2) of Gracie Tampa will take on Jason Carapelluci (6-2) of ATT of Boston in a catchweight match up. The prelim card will also feature Bellator vet Ben Saunders (13-5-2) of ATT Orlando. He is coming off a loss to welterweight tournament finalist Bryan baker, who is in the main event. Saunders will face off against Brian Warren (18-15-1) of California, who is on a 5 fight win streak. other Florida fighters on the card are Kenny Moss (5-2) vs. Raul Amaya (9-1) in a welterweight battle. Amaya is coming off his only defeat against Ben Saunders in the Bellator welterweight quarterfinals. Another welterweight battle features Julien Williams (2-1) of Orlando vs. Ryan DeRocher (3-3) of Port st. Lucie round out the preliminary card. Both fighter are coming off wins after finishing their opponents via submission and TKO, respectively.
This is an important event for MMA in Florida. It is well unknown (unfortunately) that poor attendance is the norm for events in South Florida. Even the UFC had trouble attracting an audience in its last event (and first since 2009 in Tampa) on June 8th. Bellator was a frequent visitor to the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fl, but lower attendance apparently has negated a return there this year. There have been some very momental fights there, such as the previously mentioned Alvarez vs. Chandler and the first ever women’s championship featuring Champion Zoila Gurgel and Megumi Fujii. Hopefully the Tampa attendance won’t disappoint. Please come out and show your support for not only your local fighters, but for professional MMA in our state. This is an exciting card and features some top fighters in their respective weight classes. If you are a fan of MMA, you won’t want to miss this event! Tickets are available through TicketMaster & the USF Sun Dome box office. They range in price from $30-$120.