Marcos Galvao will seek to avenge his April 2011 defeat to Joe Warren. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Marcos Galvao has waited almost four years for this.
Galvao will challenge Joe Warren for the Bellator MMA bantamweight championship in the Bellator 135 main event on Friday at the Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The two met once previously, as Warren left the cage with a controversial unanimous decision at Bellator 41 in April 2011. Galvao has payback in mind.
An Andre Pederneiras protégé who now trains out of Long Island MMA in New York, Galvao will carry a three-fight winning streak into the match. The 33-year-old World Extreme Cagefighting veteran last fought at Bellator 118 in May, when he took a unanimous decision from Thomas Vasquez at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. A two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Galvao arrived on the mixed martial arts scene in 2003 and has never lost back-to-back fights.
Warren has rattled off five consecutive victories since his ill-fated encounter with Pat Curran three years ago. The self-proclaimed “Baddest Man on the Planet” last appeared at Bellator 128 in October, when he dethroned Nova Uniao’s Eduardo Dantas by unanimous decision to become Bellator’s first undisputed two-division champion; he had held the promotion’s 145-pound crown from Sept. 2, 2010 to March 9, 2012. Before transitioning to MMA, the 38-year-old Grand Rapids, Mich., native was an NCAA All-American at the University of Michigan who went on to capture three national titles and a world championship in Greco-Roman wrestling. Warren owns wins over current Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweights Norifumi Yamamoto and Joe Soto, reigning Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire and former World Series of Fighting titleholder Georgi Karakhanyan.
In addition to the Warren-Galvao rematch, here is what to watch for at Bellator 135:
Only once in a career that spans 61 fights has Hideo Tokoro competed on United States soil.
Tokoro will return to America for the first time since he submitted Brad Pickett under the K-1 banner eight years ago when he tackles L.C. Davis in a featured pairing at 135 pounds. The 2011 Dream bantamweight grand prix winner and 2009 Dream featherweight grand prix semifinalist will enter his promotional debut on the heels of consecutive losses to Will Campuzano and Victor Henry. Tokoro, 37, has beaten a number of high-profile fighters in his native Japan, his resume buoyed by wins against Masakazu Imanari, Rumina Sato, Yoshiro Maeda, Royler Gracie and Alexandre Franca Nogueira.
The resurgent Davis, who once trained under UFC hall of famer Pat Miletich, has recorded five victories in his past six outings. The 34-year-old WEC, Sengoku and International Fight League vet last competed at Bellator 124 in September, when he banked a three-round unanimous decision against Zeilton Rodrigues at the Compuware Arena in Plymouth Township, Mich. Davis has delivered 15 of his 22 professional wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
After his tumultuous run in the Ultimate Fighting Championship ended with three straight defeats, Francis Carmont has turned the page.
Carmont will touch down in Bellator for the first time when he battles the once-beaten Guilherme Viana in a light heavyweight showcase. The Tristar Gym-trained brute has not fought since he succumbed to punches from Thales Leites at UFC Fight Night “Henderson vs. dos Anjos” in August. The 33-year-old Carmont pieced together an 11-fight winning streak across five organizations from Sept. 13, 2008 to Sept. 21, 2013 but squandered his momentum and his place on the UFC roster with losses to Leites, C.B. Dollaway and Yoel Romero.
A Shooto Americas alum, Viana has won six of his first seven fights, a split decision loss to Rodney Wallace the lone misstep. The Brazilian has finished his last three opponents.
OUT OF THE SHADOW
Most agree that Ryan Couture has gotten the most out of his ability.
The son of one of MMA’s all-time greats, Couture will step back into the Bellator cage on the strength of three consecutive wins, as he meets Dakota Cochrane in a featured clash at 155 pounds. The 32-year-old signed with Bellator MMA in July and made his debut less than two months later, when he tapped Tom Bagnasco with a first-round rear-naked choke at Bellator 124. Couture owns five submissions among his nine victories, all of them via choke.
Cochrane, a 28-year-old Nebraskan who fought for the Resurrection Fighting Alliance lightweight championship in August, holds wins over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Efrain Escudero, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 winner Joe Stevenson and former WEC lightweight titleholder Jamie Varner.
Those who carry the Roufusport flag tend to get noticed. Example: Emmanuel Sanchez.
Sanchez will put his five-fight winning streak on the line when he confronts Alejandro Villalobos in an undercard tilt at 145 pounds. The once-beaten 24-year-old Duke Roufus understudy arrived in Bellator in October, submitting Stephen Banaszak with a rear-naked choke in a little more than two minutes. Sanchez, who trains alongside former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and reigning One Championship welterweight titleholder Ben Askren in Milwaukee, has put away his last four opponents inside one round.
Villalobos has won seven fights in a row. The 36-year-old Costa Rican rarely goes the distance as 18 of his 20 bouts -- 16 of his 17 wins and two of his three losses -- have resulted in a finish.