Bellator Fighting Championships will make its debut in North Carolina in February with a bantamweight title fight leading the charge.
"Bellator 89: Dantas vs. Galvao" will take place Feb. 14 at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte with a headlining bout between 135-pound champion Eduardo Dantas (14-3 MMA, 4-0 BFC) and tournament winner, top contender and former Dantas teammate Marcos Galvao (13-5-1 MMA, 4-2 BFC).
Sources close to the promotion confirmed the plans to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
), and the date, venue and main event soon are expected to be made official by Bellator.
In addition to the bantamweight title fight at the top of the bill, Bellator will begin its Seaon 8 middleweight tournament in Charlotte, though participants have not yet been announced.
Bellator 89 will be the promotion's fifth event of 12 planned for its eighth season, which also will be its first on Spike TV after several seasons on MTV2. The main card will air live on Spike at 10 p.m. ET, which is the plan for all events of the upcoming season starting with Bellator 85 on Jan. 17. The promotion moves from a Friday home to a new Thursday time slot, getting a two-hour lead-in from TNA Impact wrestling on Spike. Prelims will air live on Spike.com at 8 p.m. ET.
Dantas won the bantamweight title by stopping Zach Makovsky with an arm-triangle choke this past April. He earned his shot at Makovsky by winning the Season 5 135-pound tournament with a stoppage of Wilson Reis and decision wins over Ed West and Alexis Vila. The win over Makovsky kept him perfect in his Bellator career, rocketed him up the bantamweight rankings and stretched his win streak to seven.
But in August, he took a stay-busy fight in his home country of Brazil, getting dispensation for the fight from Bellator since it would not be televised in the United States. At a special Shooto Brazil event, he was knocked out by Tyson Nam in the first round. The loss didn't hurt his standing in Bellator, though it did make an MMA household name out of Nam, who went on to sign with the upstart World Series of Fighting promotion and is expected to debut there in early 2013.
Nam was expected to face Galvao at Bellator 79 this past season, but had to drop off the card and the title fight against his onetime Nova Uniao training stablemate was tabled until Season 8. Now, of course, it has a date and location.
Galvao could have fought his friend much sooner than this. The two both were entrants in the Season 5 bantamweight tournament. But After an opening-round win over former WEC champ Chase Beebe, Galvao dropped a close split decision to Vila in the semifinals. Vila moved on to the final, where he lost to Dantas.
Galvao went on to the Season 6 tournament, where he licked his wounds and took decision wins against West and Travis Marx to reach the final against Luis Nogueira, whom he stopped in August with a second-round TKO to earn a title fight with his former training partner. The very next night, Dantas was stopped by Nam.
Bellator has four other title fights already scheduled for the start of Season 8. The featherweight and lightweight titles are on the line in the season-opening Bellator 85 event. Bellator 86 sees the welterweight title up for grabs. The vacant middleweight title will be filled at Bellator 88.
The only men's title fights not announced for Season 8 are at heavyweight, which just was settled this past Friday when Alexander Volkov beat Richard Hale, and light heavyweight. That title fight between champion Christian M'Pumbu and top contender Attila Vegh was supposed to happen this past Friday, as well, but was moved to Season 8. It could make its way onto an as-yet unannounced Bellator 87 card expected for Jan. 31.
For the latest on Bellator 89, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Eduardo Dantas)