The home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio is known for having tough guys well inside its city limits — September 24th will be no different. Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren looks to become the first man in history to hold two Bellator belts at the same time as Bellator brings its single elimination tournament action to the Canton Memorial Civic Center to kick off the Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament at Bellator 51. Locally, Bellator will be working with Ohio’s top Mixed Martial Arts promotion, The North American Allied Fight Series (NAAFS).
“Canton is a city that truly appreciates champions,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Growing up a football fan and playing my college football in the great state of Ohio, I can definitely appreciate a football city. It’s an honor to bring the fastest rising sport and world-class fighters to a great city such as Canton.”
In possibly Warren’s toughest test to date, the self proclaimed “Baddest Man on the Planet” is riding a five-fight win streak since joining Bellator and takes on world-class freestyle wrestler and Olympic Bronze medalist Alexis Vila, who is 9-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career.
A 2004 Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Wilson Reis steps in for what may be the toughest fight of his career and looks to stop the world’s No. 1 ranked Bantamweight prospect in Nova Uniao member Eduardo Dantas. The 22-year-old rising star trains with Season 4 Featherweight Tournament finalist Marlon Sandro and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and is looking to make plenty of noise in this season’s bantamweight bracket.
Coming off a memorable fight against Warren, Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Marcos Galvao takes on former WEC champion Chase Beebe in a match that could turn into a memorable display of ground fighting and submission attempts. In the fourth quarterfinal, Ed West, the lone returning fighter from Bellator’s Season 3 Bantamweight Tournament looks to make it back to the tournament finals once again but he must first take on 11-1 Brazilian phenom Luis Nogueira before he realizes that dream.
Established in 2005, The NAAFS has produced nearly 100 live events in the region, and has featured a number of Bellator fighters, including Chris Lozano, Brian Rogers, Daniel Straus and Jessica Eye.