By Jake Chastain
|Bellator officials confirmed today that its six-fight, three-hour summer series kickoff will now feature the opening round of the upcoming heavyweight tournament on June 19th.
The four-man heavyweight bracket will feature Vinicius Queiroz, Richard Hale, Ron Sparks and the undefeated Vitaly Minakov. The opening round, which in turn is the semi-final of the tournament, Queiroz will go to battle with Hale, while Sparks looks to hand Minakov the first loss of his professional career.
Sparks (8-1), who hasn’t competed since October of 2011, will have his hands full with Minakov, a dangerous opponent with a 10-0 record with nine of those victories coming by way of stoppage, including three straight knockouts heading into this fight. With only one loss between the two fighters this fight will surely be an exciting one to watch.
On the other side of the bracket we have returning Bellator’s season 7 HW tourney finalist, Richard Hale (21-5-1). Hale lost in the final against current champion Alexander Volkov but will look to get back to the finals in search of a different outcome. But first he’ll have to get past the former UFC HW, Vinicius Queiroz (6-3). Vinicius is currently 1-1 under the Bellator flag and has also fallen to Volkov during the season 7 tourney. Both fighters are looking to gain another crack at current Bellator HW Champion Alexander Volkov but must first face each other to get that chance.
The event, which is loaded with great talent including a main event lightweight title fight between the undefeated champion Michael Chandler and number one contender Dave Jansen, is scheduled to take place at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and is set to air on June 19th at 7pm ET on SPIKE TV.
Here is how the card stacks up at this point:
Michael Chandler (11-0) vs. Dave Jansen (19-2)
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (9-2) vs. Seth Petruzelli (14-7)
Renato “Babalu” Sobral (37-10) vs. Jacob Noe (11-2)
Vinicius Queiroz (6-3) vs. Rich Hale (21-5)
Vitaly Minakov (10-0) vs. Ron Sparks (8-1)
“War Machine” Jon Koppenhaver (12-4) vs. Blas Avena (8-6)
Tags: Bellator, Dave Jansen, HW tourney, michael chandler, MMA NEWS, oklahoma, Richard Hale, Ron Sparks, Vinicius Queiroz, Vitaly Minakov