Bellator Fighting Championships kicked off its annual Summer Series Friday night from “The Mountain State” with the start of the Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament.

Travis Wiuff, Attila Vegh, Emanuel Newton, and Tim Carpenter will now move on to the semifinal round after securing quarterfinal wins, while Brett Rogers picked up an impressive victory at Bellator 71 in Chester, W.V., from The Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort.

“Tonight at Mountaineer Casino was a perfect way to kick off our Light Heavyweight Summer Series Tournament,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Travis Wiuff continues his impressive march through Bellator, while Attila Vegh showed why he is considered one of the best young fighters in the world. Emanuel Newton was incredibly impressive in his Bellator debut, and Tim Carpenter put up a great performance after becoming a tournament participant just days ago.”

For longtime MMA veteran Travis “Diesel” Wiuff, a win Friday night against Chris Davis would likely solidify his status as a favorite in the Light Heavyweight Tournament after his impressive victory over Christian M’Pumbu last October. For Davis (10-4), it was an opportunity to pull off an upset and move one step closer to his shot at a rematch with the M’Pumbu who he lost to in Season 4. With the majority of the fight contested against the cage, Wiuff (67-14) kept pressure on the smaller Davis as he landed sharp body shots that had him visibly hurt. After dragging the fight to the ground, Wiuff used short, powerful shots to the temple and side of Davis’ head until he went unconscious at 4:12 of the first round.

“I’m ready to go. I want that belt,” said a fired up Travis Wiuff. “Christian, I’m coming for that belt.”

Travis also briefly went on to address the remaining fighters in the tournament field.

“These guys can’t handle my pressure. These guys can’t handle a nose bleed, how can they stop me?”

With a combined 30 finishes in 36 victories, a Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament quarterfinal match-up between Zelg Galesic and Attila Vegh was expected to provide fireworks for the packed crowd at The Mountaineer. After a quick back-and-forth exchange between both men, Vegh (26-4) caught Galesic (11-7) with a short right hand that had the Croatian on the mat. Vegh swarmed his opponent and immediately locked in a rear-naked choke that forced Galesic to tap exactly 1:00 into the fight.

“It was hard for me to get my rhythm going because Zelg came out very fast and aggressive,” said an excited Attila Vegh. “Right now I’m thinking about the whole tournament and who my next opponent will be. That’s what I’m focused on.”

Bellator newcomers Emanuel Newton and Roy Boughton certainly knew what was on the line going into their Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament quarterfinal fight, the opportunity to move one-step closer to a shot at reigning Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M’Pumbu. Newton (18-6) controlled the majority of the first frame, landing takedowns and finishing with elbow strikes to the head of Boughton (8-3) to close out the round. In the second, while attempting a takedown, Boughton was struck by a knee from Newton that momentarily dropped him. That was all Newton needed to pounce on his injured opponent and secure a rear-naked choke at 0:49.

“This is so huge for me,” said an exhausted Newton. “I didn’t have a full training camp, so I wasn’t able to land my slams. Wait until I get a good five week training camp going, then you’ll see my slams.”

Bellator Light Heavyweight Beau Tribolet had been preparing to face Rich Hale in the quarterfinals of the Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament since the fight was announced last April. However, when an illness forced Hale to relinquish his spot in the tournament, Tribolet (7-2) was pitted against an entirely different opponent in Bellator Season 4 veteran Tim Carpenter. While the first round resembled a striking match dominated by Carpenter (9-1), the second produced a much more even round that seemed to favor Tribolet after he secured a well-timed takedown. Carpenter, however, never appeared discouraged off his back. With nine seconds left in the second, Carpenter was able to capitalize on a mistake from Tribolet and locked up an armbar that forced Tribolet to verbally submit at 4:51.

“I felt if I pushed the pace, he would slow down a little,” said Carpenter. I really didn’t expect to be at this point, stepping in on short notice.”

The Bellator Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament will continue on July 20 from The University of South Florida as Travis Wiuff will battle Tim Carpenter while Attila Vegh will take on Emanuel Newton in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Semifinals.

In the first fight of the evening, heavy-handed heavyweight Brett “Da Grim” Rogers made his Bellator debut against former friend and training partner Kevin Asplund, who came in to the fight riding a 19-fight winning streak. After a dominant first round that included a beautiful throw and devastating uppercut that opened a cut on Asplund (19-2), the much larger Rogers (12-4) opted to use his size and weight advantage in the second to control Asplund on the ground. After two rounds of punishment, referee Robert Riley deemed Kevin Asplund unfit to start the third round, awarding the TKO victory to Brett Rogers

“It was definitely a tough fight,” said Rogers. “We trained together in the past, so I knew it was going to be a hard fight.”

Rogers was also optimistic about his future in Bellator going forward.

“I just want to continue getting better here in Bellator. I just want to get in here and knock these guys out.”

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