A recent injury to Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran, has not only forced the titleholder from Bellator 73, but has seen his challenger Patricio “Pitbull” Freire yanked from the card as well. This move has allowed a battle of undefeated light heavyweight prospects to slide into the televised portion of the evening as Mike Mucitelli takes on Matt Van Buren, the two will likely be vying for a spot in next season’s light heavyweight tournament.
Mucitelli (2-0) began his MMA career in 2010 by earning a TKO victory via doctor stoppage over Steve Skrzat. The New Yorker then took some time to hone his craft, returning to action last month to submit Eddie Hardison at Matrix Fights 6. The jiu jitsu specialist now looks to earn his first victory in a major MMA promotion.
His opponent, Van Buren (5-0), has earned three of his career victories by stoppage. Undefeated in the Bellator cage, the Virginia Beach native knocked out Nick Nichols in the second round of their October meeting. The Hybrid Academy product then took out Shawn Levesque with a rear-naked choke one month later.
Bellator 73 takes place this Friday at Harrah’s Tunica Hotel and Casino in Mississippi. The bill is now headlined by two tournament finals as Travis Wiuff meets Attila Vegh in the finals of the 2012 Summer Series light heavyweight tournament, as well as the BFC Season 6 bantamweight tournament finals as Marcos Galvao takes on Luis Nogueira, anchoring the card.