With nine prelims, two title fights, card set for Bellator 97 in Albuquerque


will-brooks-1.jpgThe main card for Bellator 97, the promotion’s close to the “Summer Series” slate, has two title fights and two tournament finals. Now the prelims have been set with nine bouts.

Bellator MMA officials announced the card on Tuesday for the event, which takes place July 31 at Santa Ana Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The main card will air on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.

The title fights headlining the show take place in the lightweight division as champ Michael Chandler defends against David Rickels, and welterweight titleholder Ben Askren puts his belt on the line against Andrey Koreschkov. In addition, tourney finals at light heavyweight between Muhammed Lawal and Jacob Noe and at heavyweight between Ryan Martinez and Vitaly Minakov will be part of the Spike TV broadcast.

The featured fight on the Spike.com prelims is in the lightweight division as Will Brooks (9-1 MMA, 1-1 BFC) tries to get back in the win column after an upset loss to Saad Awad in February at Bellator 91. The Chicago-area native will take on Cris Leyva (9-5 MMA, 0-0 BFC), who will make his Bellator debut on a four-fight losing skid.

Also on the card, a pair of bantamweight tournament semifinals will take place – with the winners meeting during Bellator’s fall season. Rodrigo Lima (11-1 MMA, 1-1 BFC) takes on Rafael Silva (19-3 MMA, 0-0 BFC) on one half of the bracket, while Frank Baca (16-2 MMA, 0-0 BFC) meets Bellator, Strikeforce and WEC veteran Anthony Leone (12-5 MMA, 2-2 BFC) on the other half.

Additionally, highly acclaimed prospect Bubba Jenkins (3-0 MMA, 0-0 BFC) makes his Bellator debut against Mike Barreras (5-6 MMA, 0-0 BFC)..

The complete Bellator 97 includes:

MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Michael Chandler vs. David Rickels – for lightweight title
  • Ben Askren vs. Andrey Koreshkov – for welterweight title
  • Muhammed Lawal vs. Jacob Noe – Summer Series light-heavyweight tourney final
  • Ryan Martinez vs. Vitaly Minakov – Summer Series heavyweight tourney final
  • Rob Emerson vs. Patricio Freire

PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 6 p.m. ET)

For the latest on Bellator 97, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Will Brooks)

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