The bulk of the opening round of Bellator’s season eight light-heavyweight tournament takes place at Bellator 85. That event is the season opener, premiere on Spike TV, which will air live from Bellator’s new base of operations in Irvine, California. The event will headline two title fights, with Pat Curran putting his featherweight title on the line against Patricio Freire, and Michael Chandler taking on Rick Hawn in a lightweight title fight. All four of the opening round 205 matches have MMA veterans welcoming on relative newcomers to the big show.
Former UFC contender and Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Renato Sobral takes on Russian import Mikhail Zayats. This bout will most likely be contested on the ground, because both are black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Also, Zayats is a master of Sambo and hand-to-hand combat, which makes him a very dangerous opponent. Kimbo killer and UFC cast-off Seth Petruzelli fights for the second time in Bellator after knocking out former UFC champ Ricco Rodriguez. In this bout he takes on Jacob Noe, and everyone will be expecting a finish since between the two, they only have three decisions in nearly 30 fights.
Last on the card, Emanuel Newton takes a second crack at a 205 tournament after losing a close decision to eventual winner Attila Vegh in the season seven series. Newton will have to get past Atanas Djambazov, who will look to finish after never going to a decision in is 17 wins. Lastly, Muhammed Lawal will make his Bellator début against Polish export Przemyslaw Mysiala at Bellator 86. Even though Mysiala has twice as many fights as Lawal, he will still be an underdog considering Lawal’s experience comes at what many consider a higher level of competition in Strikeforce. Season eight looks to début on Spike with its highest level of competition to date.