Bellator Season 2 Preview: Lightweights

The second season of Bellator Fighting Championships is about to get underway. Last year’s inaugural season set the stage for what should be a much better tournament in terms of action and talent in the cage. In order to keep you up to speed, Heavy presents our four-part look at the upcoming season of action.

A champion now reigns over each of Bellator’s four divisions by virtue of having one their respective tournaments in 2009. Each champion will first compete in a “Superfight” early on in the second season. At the conclusion of season two, a tournament champion will be crowned in each division, and he will challenge the champion of his division for the title.

Four tournaments. Four champions. Four winners. Will the new class of fighters prove to be superior to those crowned champion in 2009, or will the current champions assert their dominance over their respective divisions? We’ll find out as the season progresses. In the meantime, here’s a look at the fighters of season two of Bellator Fighting Championships.

Bellator FC Lightweight Champion

Fighter’s Name: Eddie Alvarez
Nickname: The Silent Assassin
Date of Birth: 1/11/1984
Camp: Philadelphia Fight Factory
Fighting Style: Boxing, Wrestling
Record: 19-2-0
Last Opponent: Katsunori Kikuno (W – Dream 12 – 10/26/2009)

Next Opponent: Josh Neer (Bellator XVII – 5/6/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Very tough
+ Powerful right hand
+ Good slams
– Can improve upon his submission defense
– Takes a lot of punishment on the feet

Additional Info:

* Has trained with UFC Lightweight contender Frankie Edgar in preparation for his fight against Neer

Season Two Lightweight Tournament Participants

Fighter’s Name: Pat Curran
Nickname: N/A
Date of Birth: 8/31/1987
Camp: Curran Martial Arts Academy
Fighting Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling
Record: 9-3-0
Last Opponent: Robbie Olivier (W – Trojan MMA: Trojan Warfare – 2/27/2010)

Next Opponent: Mike Ricci (Bellator XIV – 4/15/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Well-timed shot
+ Very good base on the ground
+ High experience to age ratio
– Has plenty of physical maturing left to do
– A natural Featherweight who may be undersized

Additional Info:

* Pat is the younger cousin of former UFC, WEC and Pride fighter, Jeff Curran

Fighter’s Name: Chad Hinton
Nickname: H-Bomb
Date of Birth: 6/14/1971
Camp: Cincinnati MMA & Fitness
Fighting Style: Wrestling, Kickboxing
Record: 6-0-0
Last Opponent: Justin Moore (W – Intimidation Cage Fighting 16 – 10/23/2009)

Next Opponent: Roger Huerta (Bellator XIII – 4/8/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Fantastic physical conditioning
+ Fights best against his biggest named opponents
– 38-years old
– Not much experience

Additional Info:

* His experience in construction led him to build Cincinnati MMA & Fitness himself, which he owns & operates with two other partners.

Fighter’s Name: Roger Huerta
Nickname: El Matador
Date of Birth: 5/20/1983
Camp: Jackson’s Submission Fighting
Fighting Style: Kickboxing, Wrestling
Record: 12-1-0
Last Opponent: Gray Maynard (L – UFC Fight Night 19 – 9/16/2009)

Next Opponent: Chad Hinton (Bellator XIII – 4/8/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Has conditioning for days
+ Has fought top competition
+ Tremendous heart
– Jack of all trades, master of none
– Can be out boxed
– Divided attention between MMA, acting and completeing collegiate studies

Additional Info:

* Was adopted after growing up in horrible circumstances

* First and only MMA fighter to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated

* Plays the role of “Miguel Caballero Rojo” in the movie Tekken

Fighter’s Name: Toby Imada
Nickname: N/A
Date of Birth: 4/20/1978
Camp: Dawg Pound
Fighting Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Record: 23-13-0
Last Opponent: Daisuke Hanazawa (W – King of the Cage: Toryumon – 1/30/2010)

Next Opponent: Ferrid Kheder (Bellator XV – 4/22/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Sneaky when improving positions
+ Lots of experience
– Keeps his hands very low
– Stand up leaves much to be desired
– Ineffective in the clinch
Additional Info:

* Had the consensus best submission of 2009 when he beat Jorge Masvidal with an inverted triangle choke.

* Lost in the finals of the Bellator season one Lightweight tournament to current champion Eddie Alvarez

Fighter’s Name: Ferrid Kheder
Nickname: Hurricane
Date of Birth: 3/3/1975
Camp: Tapout Gym
Fighting Style: Judo, Kickboxing
Record: 16-5-0
Last Opponent: Rudier Fuentes (W – Vale Tudo Montecarlo – 12/26/2009)

Next Opponent: Toby Imada (Bellator XV – 4/22/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Capitalizes well on downed opponents
+ Aggressive striking
+ Puts together combinations on the feet
– Relies heavily on a sweeping leg quick, which can be exploited
– Will live or die by big punches
– Making weight could be a factor
Additional Info:

* Placed 7th in the 2000 Olympic Games in Judo at 73kg

Fighter’s Name: Mike Ricci
Nickname: N/A
Date of Birth: 3/18/1986
Camp: Tristar Gym
Fighting Style: Wrestling, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Record: 5-0-0
Last Opponent: Jordan Mein (W – Ringside MMA: Rivalry – 11/14/2009)

Next Opponent: Pat Curran (Bellator XIV – 4/15/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ A large Lightweight that stands 6’ tall and walks around at 180lbs.
+ Good takedown defense
+ Has become increasingly focused on his conditioning
– Hasn’t fought top competition
– Not much experience
– Will being compared to Geroges St. Pierre put too much pressure on Ricci?

Additional Info:

* Also trains regularly with the Canadian Olympic wrestling team

Fighter’s Name: Janne Tulirinta
Nickname: N/A
Date of Birth: 3/19/1980
Camp: Riihimaen Heracles
Fighting Style: Wrestling, Boxing
Record: 12-3-0
Last Opponent: Ivan Ivanov (W – M-1 Challenge 17: Korea – 7/4/2009)

Next Opponent: Carey Vanier (Bellator XIII – 4/8/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ Used to fighting bigger opponents in the Welterweight division
+ Relative unknown – may surprise some opponents
– Can he handle the faster pace set by top Lightweights?
– Has fought mediocre opponents
Additional Info:

* Works as a police officer in his homeland of Finland

Fighter’s Name: Carey Vanier
Nickname: N/A
Date of Birth: 8/3/1981
Camp: Jackson’s Submission Fighting
Fighting Style: Wrestling
Record: 7-2-0
Last Opponent: Paul Mann (W – Shogun Fights 1 – 10/24/2009)

Next Opponent: Janne Tulirinta (Bellator XIII – 4/8/2010)

Scouting Report:

+ A powerful wrestler who likes to use suplexes
+ Good ground and pound
+ Has a good killer instinct
– Fought and lost to Nik Lentz in his MMA debut, but hasn’t fought top competition since

Additional Info:

* Worked as a manager at Best Buy in Minnesota to support his family, making MMA a part-time job until he was invited to train with Donald Cerrone at Jackson’s Submission Fighting

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