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Bellator 91 was arguably the biggest event in recent memory to happen on New Mexico soil but the show failed to propel a local into the spotlight of a regional "Star".

Bellator 97: An Extensive Guideline 101

The time is fast approaching for the heavily anticipated Bellator 97 event to go down in Rio Rancho and SWFight.com is here to provide you with all the information you need to be best prepared for the July 31st event. After reading this Bellator 97: Guidelines 101 put together by our SWFight staff, we hope you will be ready for what arguably is one of New Mexico’s most notable events.

The When, Where, and What:

The weigh-ins for Bellator 97 will be held this evening at “The Stage” inside the Santa Ana Star Casino at 5:00 p.m. and will be open to the public.

The Bellator 97 event will be held inside the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho on Wednesday afternoon with doors opening at 3:00 p.m. and the first fight starting at 3:30 p.m. MST. Remember to get to your seats early as the first several fights are part of the stacked undercard. The televised main card will be on Spike TV at 5:00 p.m MST. The local undercard is expected to begin at 8p.m. MST

Bellator 97 Undercard:

Russell Wilson (Lovato’s Total Fitness) vs. Shawn Bunch
Donald Sanchez (FIT NHB) vs. Cliff Wright Jr.
Adrian Cruz (Judgement MMA) vs. Felipe Chavez (Mean 1 MMA)
Jeremy Kimball vs. Keith Berry
Javier Palacios (Mean 1 MMA) vs. Richard Jacques (Las Cruces BJJ)
Mike Barreras (Lovato’s Total Fitness ) vs. Bubba Jenkins
Cris Leyva (11th Street Boxing) vs. Will Brooks
Tournament Bout: Rafael Silva vs. Rodrigo Lima
Tournament Bout: Frank Baca (FIT NHB) vs. Anthony Leone
*Fight listing is not in a particular order.

Bellator 97 Main Card:

Patricio Pitbull vs. Jared Downing
Vitaly Minakov vs. Ryan Martinez
Tournament Finals: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Jacob Noe
Championship Bout: Ben Askren © vs. Andrey Koreshkov
Championship Bout: Michael Chandler © vs. David Rickels

Who are the notables on the Main Card:

Clearly the star on this Bellator MMA fight card is Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. He is one of the most animated personalities in MMA and his beef with Rampage Jackson last year was one of the more compelling stories out of the cage. He wears a crown to the cage and really embraces the “King” persona that his name implicates. Not only does he have the personality, King Mo has the skill. He was a Division II National Champion and Division I All-American. He also very nearly qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2008 for Freestyle Wrestling.

In terms of MMA success, Michael Chandler and Ben Askren represent the two brightest stars in the Bellator organization and they will each defend their titles in Rio Rancho. Both Chandler and Askren are undefeated and are considered the highest ranked fighters in their respective division outside of the UFC.

Chandler is best known for his all out war with Eddie Alvarez that saw Chandler submit Alvarez to capture promotional gold. Askren is often debated to be one of the best “pure” wrestlers competing in MMA today and has completely dominated every opponent he’s seen thus far in his career with his technical and unique brand of folk-style wrestling. The two fighters are dominant Champions and will put that dominance to the test Wednesday night when they meet formidable opponents in Andrey Koreshkov and David Rickels.

The Wrestlers On The Card:

SWFight.com touched on the wrestling talent coming to Rio Rancho in a previous article. Aside from “King Mo”, there will be some others competing for Bellator 97 that will be bringing in some very high wrestling honors.

Here is an excerpt from that post:

“One of MMA’s most talked about prospects; Bubba Jenkins (3-0) will be taking on Mike Barreras. Jenkins is the 2011 Division I Champion and Freestyle Junior World Champion. Wrestling for collegiate powerhouse Arizona State, Jenkins was one of the most talked about collegiate talents of the last several years. He is competing now in MMA, where he has amassed three career wins in a 20-month span. In all three bouts, Jenkins used his wrestling to the take the fight to the mat where he would have dominance over just about any regional opponent. He won his first fight via TKO and the next two by way of submission.”

“The second wrestler making the trip to Albuquerque is Will Brooks (9-1). Brooks was groomed by the Bellator promotion to be the next title challenger for Michael Chandler’s Lightweight Title before knockout loss to Saad Awad at Bellator 91 derailed those hopes. Will Brooks returns to Santa Ana Star Center looking for redemption and along with him comes hype and huge expectations. A successful high school wrestler, Brooks also has an impressive football background that was derailed due to injury. Brooks has traditionally throughout eight fights worked the takedown and imposed his will as he hunted a TKO or submission finish”

The Tournament Fights:

The opening round of this season’s Bantamweight Tournament goes down tomorrow night. The first round fights feature local competitor Frank Baca representing FIT NHB against Bellator vet Anthony Leone. The second fight features Rafael Silva and Rodrigo Lima. The winners of each bout will face one another in an upcoming Bellator event for the right to take on promotional Champion Eduardo Dantas and an opportunity to win Bellator MMA’s $100,000 prize.

Two tournament finals will also be featured on the fight card. Ryan Martinez will take on Vitaly Minakov for the opportunity to be crowned Bellator Heavyweight Champion. Bellator’s former Heavyweight Champion Cole Konrad is now retired making the Heavyweight division wide open for one of these fighters to become the premier Heavyweight in the Bellator promotion.

Light-Heavyweight Champion Atilla Vegh awaits a title contender and that top challenger will be named Wednesday night when “King Mo” faces off with Jacob Noe. The match up is heavily anticipated due to some verbal exchanges between the dueling 205-pounders and they will each put their talents to the test in the cage with the winner expected to take on Vegh later in this Bellator season.

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