Bellator 97, the second and final event of Bellator’s 2013 Summer Series, is set for July 31st at the Santa Ana Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. the event features the finals of the SS 4 man tourneys as King Mo take on Jacob Noe at Lightheavyweight and Ryan Martinez takes on Vitaly Minakov at Heavyweight. The card also features title fights at welterweight and lightweight, as Champions Ben Askren and Michael Chandler defend their titles.
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Bellator has really stacked this card with a great deal of the talent on their roster, as the company has not seen the ratings boost expected with the switch to SPIKETV.
The most intriguing matchup may be the Ben askren welterweight title defense against Andrey Koreshkov. Koreshkov swept a Bellator tournament to earn the shot, and he has an undefeated record of 13-0, making this a rarity in MMA, a title bout between two undefeated fighters.
Askren, known for his elite wrestling and blanketing grappling will be favored at the books, but Koreshov’s unusual and aggressive game is unlike anything Askren has seen before.
King Mo will be a massive favorite in his fight, as Bellator tries anything they can to crown Mo a tournament champion so he can earn a title shot. Noe is a serviceable pro, and if he finds Mo’s soft spot (which might be his whole head for all we know) he could be the second person to spoil King Mo’s trajectory.
Look for Bellator to take it’s act to Russia sometime soon, as Vitaly Minakov will be favored in his match with Ryan Martinez. That would set the Russian up with a title shot against fellow countryman Alexander Volkov, the Bellator Heavyweight Champion (by default). the divisional talent at heavyweight is woeful, so Belator might as well use the title match to break new territory in Russia should Minakov win.
Michael Chandler will come in favored for his Lightweight Title defense against David Rickels. Rickels is a solid chllenger who also fought his way through a Bellator tournament to earn the title shot, but Chandler has really metamorphisized into a dominant champion. For Bellator, who is feeling the pressure to build stars, suffice it to say that Rickels is NOt Eddie Alvarez.
The television broadcast will also get veteran Robert Emerson taking on Bellator favorite Patrick Friere, and the undercard has several other intriguing matchups. Look for the lines to start popping up at the sportbooks in the coming days.