MMAFrenzy’s coverage of Bellator 96 continues with our coverage of the Bellator Summer Series Heavyweight tournament in Thackerville, Oklahoma on Spike TV. The fight card featured the tournament debut of SAMBO world champion Vitaly Minakov and he did not disappoint by blowing out Ron Sparks. In the other semifinal, Ryan Martinez would punch his ticket to the final by defeating Season 7 finalist Rich Hale.
In the Spike TV opener, War Machine would mark a successful Bellator debut by defeating Blas Avena.
Minakov Smashes Sparks
Russian Vitaly Minakov lived up to the hype tonight by annihilating Bellator veteran Ron Sparks tonight in Oklahoma. Minakov quickly dropped Sparks early in their bout and followed up with a nasty barrage of strikes that brought a quick halt to the fight. Minakov advances to the finals of the four-man tournament with his eleventh career victory.
Martinez Upsets Hale
Ryan Martinez made the most of his role as alternate by defeating Season 7 heavyweight tournament finalist Rich Hale on the evening’s preliminary card. Martinez’s work with teammates Roy Nelson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal was evident, as his all-round game looked solid tonight in his TKO victory. Martinez has now won three-straight fights since dropping his Bellator debut. Martinez will now face Minakov in the tournament finals at Bellator 97.
War Machine Crushes Avena
War Machine looked rusty in his return to MMA tonight but still notched the victory over Blas Avena in a featured welterweight bout. The fight hinged on a takedown by War Machine, as he would quickly advance to the mounted crucifix and pounded out Avena. War Machine is expected to make his tournament debut this fall.