CHICAGO, Ill. (March 26, 2010) — Bellator Fighting Championships announced today that its reigning featherweight champion, Joe Soto, will square off in a non-title “Super Fight” with UFC veteran Diego “The Octopus” Saraiva under the Bellator banner this spring.
The fight will take place on Thursday, May 20th and will be televised live on FOX Sports Net and during Bellator’s Saturday-night highlight shows on NBC and Telemundo. The venue for the event will be announced shortly.
This is the second Super Fight matchup to be announced by Bellator, along with the May 6th bout between current Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and UFC veteran Josh Neer. Bellator will also hold similar non-tournament, non-title fights for Bellator’s two other Season 1 champions—Hector Lombard and Lyman Good as each prepares to defend their titles from Bellator’s Season 2 tournament winners this fall.
Soto, a native of California’s Central Valley, was a virtual unknown in the MMA world before knocking off Ben Greer, Wilson Reis and Yahir Reyes to take home the first-ever Bellator Featherweight Championship belt last June. He recently improved his record to a perfect 8-0.
Saraiva, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, is a three-time UFC veteran at 155 lbs. He is now in the midst of a career renaissance since dropping down to the 145 weight class a little over one year ago and is a perfect 6-0 at featherweight.
“This is a great match-up between two extremely tough fighters – one who’s on his way up and one who’s in the midst of a great comeback,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Diego will be a great test for Joe as he prepares to defend his belt later this year. As a fan first and foremost, this should be a great fight to watch”
Soto, who broke the news of the fight during an in-studio appearance on HD Net’s “Inside MMA” on Thursday, said that he’s “excited to get back in the cage” against a seasoned competitor like Saraiva.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Diego … He has almost 30 fights as a pro and is on a real hot streak since he dropped down to 145,” Soto said. “But I’m in the best shape of my career. I feel that I can compete with anybody at 145 right now. I’m looking forward to the fight.”
Saraiva, meanwhile, said that he’s been interested in fighting Soto since seeing him defeat Wilson Reis in last season’s Bellator featherweight semifinals.
“Joe’s a really tough wrestler – I was really impressed by him,” Saraiva said. “So I’m going to be trying to block the takedown and win the fight on my feet. I feel like I’ve found a new home at 145. At 155, I always was feeling like the little guy. Now, I’m more powerful and a lot faster too. I think Joe and I are going to give the Bellator fans a great show.”