Vegh, Galvao earn title shots
Two Bellator tournament finalists were crowned Friday in Tunica, Miss., leaving Hungarian light heavyweight Attila Vegh and Brazilian bantamweight Marcos Galvao next in line for title shots in their respective divisions.
The card's main event, made so after Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran fell off last week with a broken orbital bone suffered while sparring, featured 95 combined wins between Vegh and well-traveled American Travis Wiuff.
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Leaving his corner standing southpaw, Vegh (28-4-2) danced around and switched his stance several times before timing a perfect left-right combination that put Wiuff, 34, down on the canvas. Vegh jolted forward, unloading mean-spirited rights before referee Jason Herzog moved in to save Wiuff (68-15).
"It will be a hard, hard fight but I will be champion," the 27-year-old Hungarian said of his pending clash with M'Pumbu, whose last appearance in the cage ended in a decision loss to Wiuff. "I'm ready to fight."
Vegh has won eight straight, including two stoppages (Wiuff and Zelg Galesic) and a decision (Emanuel Newton) en route to the tournament crown.
Joining Vegh in celebration was Galvao after a decisive finish of fellow Brazilian Luis Nogueira at 4:20 of the second round.
"Everyone knows that Eduardo and I were partners a long time ago in the same school, but there won't be any problem," the 31-year-old Galvao said through a translator moments after plastering Nogueira with vicious elbows from back-mount. "We're going to fight very hard, 300 percent."
Earning his way into Friday's final with decisions over Ed West in April and Travis Marx in May, Galvao faced the 30-year-old Nogueira (14-3), a strong wrestler and striker out of Brazil's Luta Livre tradition.
The Brazilian pair didn't lack for energy from the start. They traded strikes, particularly in the last minute of Round 1. Galvao's four-inch height advantage paid off in the clinch, where he connected on several knees to Nogueira's face, turning the round in his favor headed to the decisive second.
Galvao's Brazilian jiu-jitsu roots trumped Nogueira's power game late in Round 2 after a right straight to the face stunned the Rio native.
Galvao, two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, took to the floor where he transitioned neatly from mount to back-control. He unloaded heavy shots to both sides of Nogueira's exposed head until referee Jason Herzog saw enough and stepped in to call a halt to the contest.
"Marcos Galvao got a couple bad decisions coming out with us," Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said after the fight. "We stuck with him. He's looked amazing. Look what he overcame. His mom passed away. He stuck in the tournament. He stayed focused; he made a promise to her.
"Now he's got a world title fight, literally against a guy that he taught in this game in Brazil."