Thursday night, Bellator returns to the historic Chicago Theatre for Bellator 25 with a packed fight card of eight scheduled fights that feature three tournament fights and a match up of two top welterweight veterans. Sadly, Bellator still has not made it here to Knoxville, but native Tennessean, Paul Daniels, said he’ll put in a good word at the event tonight, where he’ll be watching LIVE!
In the Heavyweight division, undefeated Polish sensation Damian Grabowski (13-0) makes his US debut against ground-and-pound specialist Scott Barrett (10-1). (Check out the Bellator Promo video below on Grabowski.)
Also, 2-time NCAA Champion Cole Konrad (4-0) will place his unblemished MMA record on the line against Spanish submission ace Rogent Lloret (9-1-1) in another quarterfinal bout.
You’ll find Season 2 welterweight finalist, Dan “the Handler” Hornbuckle (21-3), on this card as well, as he attempts to rebound from his Season 2 finals loss against UFC veteran “Bad” Brad Blackburn (17-11-1).
And while I’m very much interested in the men’s fights, what I’m especially excited about are the Women’s MMA (WMMA) fights. Thursday night, the Women’s division offers another quarterfinal tourney fight, featuring undefeated Jessica Pene (7-0), against Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Frausto (7-1, with her only loss being to Miesha Tate), whose shocking “revenge of the sister” (and clearly the underdog) KO of pre-tournament favorite, Rosi Sexton, at Bellator 23, catapulting her into the minds and hearts of fight fans. (Please see the video of the fight between Sexton and Frausto below.)
According to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings, Zoila is currently the #3-ranked 125-pound female fighter in the world. I had a chance to catch up with Zoila the other day, and asked her what she was doing differently to prepare for this fight against Pene: “I’ve been in Fresno for years, but I recently moved my training to Cincinnati, Ohio, to work with Team Jorge Gurgel. (SHOUT OUT to Jorge and all my training partners!) I’m training harder than ever, and working on my take down and ground work.”
When asked, she said “yes” she had seen Jan “Cuddles” Finney training at Gurgel’s, but hasn’t really spent any time training with her: “We just have different schedules!”
When asked if she felt confident against Pene in her upcoming fight, her answer was quick: “Absolutely! I’ve been doing the right things to prepare and train; I think I have a good chance of beating Pene.”
To watch the fight, you can find them LIVE on Fox Sports Net TONIGHT, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Next month, my complete interview with Frausto can be found in the Caged 360 Online Magazine; I’ll be sure to keep you posted! Until then, all the best to the ladies fighting in the Bellator Tournament!
For local folks, they’ll be treated to some local flavor via some featured fights:
* Shonie Carter (49-24) vs Torrance Taylor (8-7)
* Kevin Knabjian (10-4) vs Brian Gassaway (28-19)
* John Kolosci (14-6) vs Kenny Robertson (9-0)
* Keoki Cypriano (2-2) vs Eric Kriegermeier (1-1)