Bellator Fighting Championships, the first mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion to secure an exclusive agreement with any member of the ESPN family of networks, announced today that its debut event will be held in the Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida on April 3, 2009.
The event will air during prime time on April 4 on ESPN Deportes.
“We are thrilled to be premiering at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino,” said Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. “The Seminole Hard Rock has a superb track record of hosting world-class, sold out MMA in their state of the art arena. And as South Florida has some of the most passionate MMA fans in the country, the Hard Rock is the perfect location for our debut. We look forward to showcasing our highly competitive single elimination tournament fights for Florida’s MMA fans and for the world through our alliance with ESPN Deportes.”
The event will feature tournament bouts in the Featherweight (145 lbs.), Lightweight (155 lbs.) and Middleweight (185 lbs.) divisions, showcasing two of the world’s best Lightweights (Eddie Alvarez and Jorge Masvidal) as well as featured non-tournament bouts and a top women’s fight highlighting Miami’s own Jessica Aguilar, an American Top Team fighter who has established a 5-2 record.
The fight card is detailed below:
Eddie Alvarez (16-2) vs. Daniel Morales (5-1)
Jorge Masvidal (16-3) vs. Diego Garijo (3-1)
Nick Gonzalez (14-6) vs. Yahir Reyes (12-5)
Estevan Payan (6-1) vs. Luis Palomino (9-4)
Joe Soto (4-0) vs. Ben Greer (11-4)
The bout between Alvarez and Morales pits an aggressive and hungry Alvarez against the notoriously tough Daniel Morales. Though Morales has only been to decision once, his bout with Alvarez marks a significant step up in competition for the former Cage of Fire Lightweight champ.
Taking a similar step up in competition is Diego Garijo, a decorated grappler who is in the best condition of his career. He will face off against Miami’s own Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal is known for his strength and endurance at Lightweight and with Garijo’s stellar conditioning, their bout promises to be a strong contender for fight of the night.
The event will also feature exciting matchups in the Featherweight division, including Nick Gonzalez who will compete against Yahir Reyes. As both are tremendous stand up fighters, this battle will likely be the best match up of striking skills of the division. Estevan Payan and Luis Palomino are set to compete in the Featherweight division as well. With aggressive, “in your face” styles, Payan and Palomino are expected to give tough fights until the end. The Featherweight matchup between Joe Soto and Ben Greer will be an interesting technical battle. Both are dominant wrestlers with solid jiu-jitsu backgrounds; their fight promises to be a true test of who rules on the ground.
Bellator Fighting Championships’ premiere season consists of 12 two-hour events to be broadcast weekly in primetime on Saturday nights. The nationally televised events will feature a combination of tournament and non-tournament special feature bouts. There will be four simultaneous tournaments taking place in season #1 over a three month period: one in each of the Featherweight (145 lb.), Lightweight (155 lb.), Welterweight (170 lb.) and Middleweight (185 lb.) divisions.
Tickets will go on sale Tuesday March 3, at 12:00 pm EST, and can be purchased at the Hard Rock Live Hollywood box office or Ticketmaster.com. Ticket prices are $25, $50, $100 and $150. For tickets to the live event, please visit Ticketmaster.com beginning Tuesday, March 3, 2009.