|Bellator FC 44
Sunday, May 15th @ 1:00am
|Bellator 44: Preview|
|Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison Makes Televised Bellator Debut Against Goldsbyby Derek Constable
Pennsylvania wasn’t always fair game in MMA like it is today. In fact, five years ago if a fighter from Philly wanted to compete in mixed martial arts, a ride to Atlantic City was his best bet.
That’s why Anthony Morrison may carry the nickname “Cheesesteak” but many of his career highlights took place on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Morrison made a name for himself in the Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat, fighting guys like Jim Miller and Jeff Lentz, but when called upon by the WEC he fell short two times to former and future title contenders Mike Brown and Chad Mendes.
Morrison is a strong wrestler with big slams and good submission defense, but his hands will be put to the test in his bantamweight debut at Bellator 44 opposite Bryan Goldsby.
Another journeyman with well over 20 fights to his record, Goldsby impressed everyone in attendance at Bellator 14 with a win by decision over Jeff Curran. Goldsby was a no name compared to his opponent that night, but out struck him on his feet for three solid rounds earning him a spot in the upcoming bantamweight tournament. Goldsby lost to Ed West, but then made his way back into the bracket opposite Zack Makovsky after an injury was suffered by Ulysses Gomez.
Goldsby lost to the eventual Bellator 135 pound champion, but was back in the cage nearly six months later with a win by unanimous decision in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Morrison had rebounded from his losses to Brown and Mendes with a win by knockout or TKO at Matrix Fights, but that win was recently recanted after the fight was ruled a no contest.
Morrison versus Goldsby became a televised bout earlier this week when former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good was forced to withdraw from his matchup with Dan Hornbuckle due to an injury. Good and Hornbuckle were battling for a spot in the Season Five Bellator Welterweight Tournament, but Morrison and Goldsby might have an equal amount of pressure entering this fight as spots in the upcoming bantamweight bracket are quickly filling up too.
This is the Bellator debut for Morrison who attended the highly anticipated Alvarez-Huerta bout at Bellator 33 in Philadelphia, and a welcome return for Goldsby, the man who fell one fight short of the 135 finals and shocked the world with a win over Curran in his Bellator debut.
Goldsby-Morrison is a welcome addition to Bellator 44 and good replacement for Good-Hornbuckle who were sure to have the crowd on their feet.
Bellator 44 Preview: Hector Lombard vs. Falaniko Vitale
From the time Bellator kicked off its inaugural season back in April 2009, the organization’s most dominant fighter has been current Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard.
The numbers speak for themselves. Lombard is a flawless 6-0 in Bellator. Four of those wins haven’t gone past the first round and only one fighter, Alexander Shlemenko, has lasted long enough to hear the judge’s decision. It’s been utter domination for Lombard in Bellator’s 185-pound division.
Lombard is a master in the art of Judo, where he’s a fourth-degree black belt and a former Olympian. However, Lombard’s greatest asset is his ferocious fighting style. Lombard has said on a number of occasions that he idolized Mike Tyson growing up, and it shows in the way he fights.
Lombard comes out looking to finish his opponent as quickly as possible. This was never more evident than in back-to-back wins over Jay Silva and Herbert Goodman. Combined, Silva and Goodman lasted a total of 44 seconds with the middleweight champion. It’s this killer instinct that has Lombard unbeaten in his last 25 fights.
Trying to derail the Lombard freight train will be Falaniko Vitale. The former UFC and Strikeforce veteran owns notable victories over Matt Lindland, Dave Menne, Kalib Starnes and Yushin Okami. However, despite his impressive career record of 29-9, Vitale faces an uphill battle against a fighter in the prime of his career like Lombard.
If Vitale is going to pull the huge upset, he’ll need to withstand the early storm from Lombard and try to take this fight to the ground. That’s where Vitale is at his best, as 16 of his 29 career wins have come by way of submission.
Lombard isn’t only one of the top fighters in Bellator, he’s pound-for-pound one of the best middleweights in the world right now. Virtually every online ranking system has Lombard rated as one of the Top 10 middleweight fighters in the sport. Lombard hasn’t tasted defeat since a decision loss to Gregard Mousasi back in 2006. Don’t expect that streak to come to an end on Saturday night.
Lombard is simply too strong and too aggressive for Vitale to handle. It should be another short night for Shango at Bellator 44, as Lombard’s dominance continues.
Bellator 44 Preview: Michael Chandler vs. Patricky ‘Pitbull’
Lightweight Tournament Final
Michael Chandler and Patricky ‘Pitbull’ have both had an impressive run through the lightweight tournament thus far. Now one of them will look to seal the deal and earn the right to face current Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.
Pitbull has been one of the most impressive fighters regardless of weight class during Bellator’s fourth season. In the quarterfinals, he scored a third-round knockout over grizzled veteran “Razor” Rob McCullough.
While his exciting victory over McCullough certainly turned some heads, Pitbull was just getting started. In the semifinals, he delivered one of this seasons most talked about moments when he put Toby Imada to sleep with a flying knee. It was a spectacular win over a fighter who has been one of Bellator’s toughest competitors since Season 1.
The two wins in Bellator were Pitbull’s first fights on American soil. He comes into this bout with a record of 9-1 and having won five fights in a row.
Chandler had a very impressive opening win in the lightweight tournament, submitting the previously undefeated Marcin Held in the quarterfinals. It was a dominating performance from Chandler over a guy a lot of people picked to win the lightweight tournament.
Things weren’t quite as easy for Chandler in his semifinal win over Lloyd Woodard at Bellator 40. Chandler’s strength is his wrestling and he used that to his advantage to score a unanimous decision win. Chandler also displayed strong ground and pound once he took Woodard down, a formula he will likely try and duplicate against Pitbull.
Chandler is a very dangerous opponent because his wrestling is at an elite level. Pitbull has beaten two notable veterans in his tournament run, but he has yet to face a wrestler the caliber of Chandler in his career. How successful Pitbull is in defending Chandler’s takedowns will go a long way in deciding which fighter moves on to face Alvarez.
Both fighters are competing for the third time in a nine-week span. However, Pitbull will have six weeks of rest since his semifinal fight, while Chandler will have five. That shouldn’t be a huge factor but it’s just another sign pointing to Pitbull winning this tournament.
It won’t be easy but if Pitbull can stay off his back, I believe he will win this fight. Chandler is a great wrestler, but Pitbull has a big advantage in the striking department. I think Pitbull will keep this fight standing and score his third consecutive knockout to win the lightweight tournament.
Bellator 44 Preview: Brett Cooper vs. Alexander Shlemenko
Alexander Shlemenko makes his return to the Bellator cage Saturday night and you better not blink. Shlemenko is 16-2 over his last 18 fights with 13 of those wins coming by way of stoppage.
Shlemenko made his debut in the organization by winning Bellator’s Season 2 Middleweight Tournament. To earn a title shot against Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard, Shlemenko had to defeat Matt Major, Jared Hess, and Bryan Baker.
Shlemenko lost a decision to Lombard but showed just how tough he was in that fight. Shlemenko took a lot of damage in the first four rounds but rebounded to win the fifth on the judge’s scorecards. It was only the second time in his last 14 fights that Lombard went to a decision, a testament to both Shlemenko’s skill and toughness.
Brett Cooper was also a participant in Bellator’s Season 2 Middleweight Tournament, although he didn’t have the same success as Shlemenko, losing his first round fight to Steve Carl. Cooper bounced back from that loss to score a second round TKO victory over Matt Major at Bellator 29.
Cooper is now 9-2 in his last 11 fights and just like Shlemenko, he doesn’t like to leave things up to the judges. All nine of those wins have been stoppages, with eight coming by way of knockout.
On paper, this match-up certainly looks like it could be one of the most entertaining fights of the evening. Both guys like to press forward and are always looking for ways to finish the fight. While Cooper is in the middle of a nice run, I believe this kind of style favors Shlemenko. He has 38 career wins with 24 of those coming by knockout, so Shlemenko is right at home in a slugfest.
This fight may not last long but it promises to be very entertaining. In the end, look for Shlemenko to be the last one standing, as he continues to make a name for himself in Bellator.
Additional Tickets Released For Previously Sold Out Bellator 44
CHICAGO, Ill. (May 9, 2011) – Bellator Fighting Championships today announced additional tickets for Bellator 44 in Atlantic City have been made available to the public after the event had previously sold out. Tickets for the event start at just $45 and can be purchased at Bellator.com or by visiting Ticketmaster.com
“We saw a tremendous response from our fans when we originally put tickets on sale, so we wanted to do everything in our power to make sure everyone who wanted to see this stacked card live, had that chance,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “May 14th is going to be a spectacular night for Bellator LIVE on MTV2 and live at Caesars, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the night with as many energized fans as we can accommodate Saturday night in Atlantic City.”
Headlining the May 14th show will be a non-title Super Fight featuring reigning Bellator World Middleweight Champion and former Judo Olympian Hector Lombard against dangerous Hawaiian UFC veteran Falaniko Vitale. The night will also see a Lightweight Tournament Championship fight between Brazilian Knockout artist Patricky Pitbull and undefeated NCAA Champion Michael Chandler.
Locally, former TUF competitor and New Jersey native Jeff Lentz will face off against Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Anthony Leone in a lightweight battle. Philadelphia native Sam Oropeza will be making his Bellator debut when he takes on Giedrius Karavackas, who now calls Atlantic City home. Raised in Philadelphia, Oropeza trains with Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie Alvarez, and will be looking to impress Bellator brass with an explosive performance.
About Bellator Fighting Championships
Bellator Fighting Championships is a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company headquartered in Chicago. Bellator’s founder/CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment professional with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator Fighting Championships’ executive team is comprised of top industry professionals in the areas of live event production, television production, fighter relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.
MTV2 is a man’s best friend, available in nearly 80 million homes and with the highest concentration of males 12-24 and 12-34 on TV today. A vibrant mix of music, lifestyle and action sports programming, MTV2 has reflected the habits and behavior of young people since its launch in 1996. MTV2 is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom, one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.
Caesars Atlantic City
Atlantic City, NJ
Sat, May 14, 2011 07:30 PM
Saturday May, 14 2011
Caesars Hotel & Casino
Atlantic City, NJ
Three Round Superfight
Falaniko Vitale vs Hector Lombard
Lightweight Tournament Final
Patricky Pitbull vs Michael Chandler
Season 5 Middleweight Qualifier
Brett Cooper vs Alexander Shlemenko
Season 5 Bantamweight Qualifier
Bryan Goldsby vs Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison