A pair of older fighters with roots in wrestling top the Bellator 51 fight card tomorrow night in Canton, Ohio. Thirty-four year-old Joe Warren (pictured) “The Baddest Man on the Planet” (7-1) will face off against 40-year-old Alex “The Exorcist” Vila (9-0) in the bantamweight tourney opening round of Bellator Fighting Championships. The rest of the card includes other bantamweight tourney openers Wilson Reis vs. Eduardo Dantas, Ed West vs. Luiz Nogueira, and Marcos Galvao vs. Chase Beebe.
But the most intriguing matchup is Warren against Vila. Warren, Bellator’s current featherweight champion, is seeking to become the first MMA fighter to simultaneously hold belts in two divisions for a nationally televised U.S. promotion. The first man who will attempt to stop him, Vila, has in his trophy case an award that Warren used to covet: an Olympic wrestling medal. Vila won a bronze in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Vila will certainly have his hands full–Warren added Muay Thai to his repertoire this past summer.
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