Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney revealed the lightweight semifinals
Saturday. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The four men who advanced to the semifinals of Bellator's
lightweight tournament on Saturday in Shreveport, La., were all
impressive enough that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney couldn't possibly
design poor semifinals.
The combination that Rebney settled on will see a battle of
unbeatens, as 6-0 former All-American wrestler Michael
Chandler takes on 11-0 Lloyd
Woodard and two-time Bellator tournament runner-up Toby Imada
tries to clinch his third finals appearance against once-beaten
Freire. The two semifinal bouts will take place on April 9 at
Bellator 40 at First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla.
"People ask, 'What kind of bullets do you have in the gun for
Alvarez?' That was answered tonight," said Rebney at the
Bellator 36 post-fight press conference. "There are some
spectacular, talented 155-pounders fighting for this organization.
I had a blast watching these fights."
All four lightweight semifinalists stopped their quarterfinal foes
in Shreveport. Woodard and Freire knocked out Carey
Vanier and Rob
McCullough, respectively, while Imada and Chandler forced
stoppages via submission over Josh
Shockley and Marcin Held.
With the most well-known fighter in the tournament, former WEC
champion McCullough, out of the running, it now sees the lone
veteran Imada alongside three bright up-and-coming prospects.
"I'm back for the third time. Hopefully this time I take everyone
out hoping to beat me by decision," Imada mused, perhaps commenting
on his contentious decision loss to Pat Curran in
the second-season tournament final last June. "I don't feel like
celebrating a whole lot yet."
"It's the biggest chance of my life, and a chance you only have one
time," Freire added. "I know that I'll be fighting another tough
guy, I've seen many of his fights. I know it will be a war."
However, given how closely matched the final four are, Missoula,
Mont., native Woodard perhaps explained the semifinal draw the
best. "All these guys are tough. I want a tough fight," said
Woodard. "It's an honor for me to fight Mike, but if it was one of
these other guys, it would be just as high an honor."
Bellator 40 will be headlined by the promotion's welterweight
champion, Ben Askren,
taking on Nick
Thompson in a non-title affair. Featherweight prospect Ronnie Mann
will also make his promotional debut on the card against Josh Arocho.