Bellator Fighting Championships will return to The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for a record eighth time on September 17th, as Bellator’s fifth season Middleweight Tournament kicks off with four quarterfinal fights. Along with Bellator tournament action, the night will feature eight local feature fights that feature some of the area’s best talent.
The night will feature inspirational middleweight Rad Martinez taking on former Marine Sergeant Brian Van Hoven. Martinez made headlines with his feature piece on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (Watch Here: http://es.pn/iOZTCP) and will be looking for victory in his Bellator debut.
Luis “Baboon” Palomino will make his seventh appearance for Bellator when he battles Orlando’s own Edson “Little Tiger” Berto in a featherweight affair. Palomino steps back into the Bellator cage after suffering a submission defeat at the hands of Bellator Summer Series Featherweight Finalist Pat Curran at Bellator 46.
Florida tryout winner Ailton Barbosa will be making his Bellator debut on September 17th, taking on Strikeforce veteran Ryan Keenan in a welterweight battle. Barbosa currently holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt from American Top Team and enters the fight riding a five fight win streak.
Undefeated welterweight Cristiano “Solider” Souza looks to keep his record perfect with a victory against Miami native and Bellator veteran John Kelly. Kelly’s last win came with Bellator after the MMA Masters product earned a unanimous decision victory over William Kuhn at Bellator 34. Kelly also serves a Florida fireman, and is sure to fill the Seminole Hard Rock crowd with supportive colleagues.
As one of American Top Team’s leading trainers and one of South Florida’s most popular fighters, Marcos da Matta brings his 8-1 record to The Seminole Hard Rock when he meets Shah Babonis, who will be looking to impress the hometown crowd with a victory.
Middleweights meet when Valdir Araujo faces Ryan Hodge in a Miami-Gainesville grudge match. Araujo has won his last three fights by finish, and is a Judo standout at MMA Masters in Miami.
Lightweights battle it out as Dietter Navarro (0-1) takes on Marcelo Goncalves (1-1). As one of Pablo Popovitch’s leading students and top trainers, Goncalves will look to use his experienced grappling techniques against a difficult Navarro.
Rounding out the card will be another set of lightweights as J.P. Reese (3-1) battles R.J. Goodridge (4-1). Reese is also an American Top Team product and was a standout wrestler at the University of Missouri, which produced Bellator Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren.
“I’ve said it before that Florida produces some of the best talent in the World, and that talent will certainly be on display September 17th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney.