Interview: Get to know Akop Stepanyan ahead of his featherweight tournament bout at Bellator 88 *VIDEO*

Twenty-six-year-old Russian kickboxer Akop Stepanyan (12-4) returns to the Bellator cage Thursday against Marlon Sandro in the quarterfinal round of the Season 8 featherweight tournament. reporter Daniel Theodore recently sat down with Stepanyan to talk about his background and accomplishments in martial arts and why becoming the best he can in MMA is his ultimate goal. Stepanyan also shared his thoughts on the match-up with Marlon Sandro (23-4) and how he feels about facing such a well-known and accomplished veteran.

Joe Warren recounts “12 hours from hell” prior to his featherweight tournament victory at Bellator 23

Joe Warren was almost not able to even participate, much less win his fight against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire due to a case of apparent food poisoning.

Joe Warren and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire advance to Bellator Featherweight Tournament Finals

MONROE, La. – Thursday night at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La., wrestling crossover star Joe Warren (4-1) continued his assault on professional mixed martial arts. Matched up against the much more experienced Georgi Karakhanyan (13-2-1) at Bellator 18, in the semi-finals of their season two featherweight tournament, Warren walked away with the unanimous … Read more

Sengoku Seventh Battle Preview

The featherweights continue to get a big push. Two weeks ago DREAM held the first round of their featherweight tournament, and this week Sengoku’s participants will take to the ring. This tournament may not have the big names like DREAM, but it remains stocked with plenty of young talent and the winner should make an impact on the world rankings.

Tournament Bouts:

Hatsu Hioki (17-3-2) vs. Chris Manuel (6-0-2)
The literal “poster boy” for the tournament is also the favorite. Hatsu Hioki is a world ranked fighter, and also the TKO champion. Over the course of his career he has defeated top fighters like Hideki Kadowaki, Jeff Curran, and Mark Hominick twice. He is truly an ace on the ground, which was made apparent by his guard passing dominance against Baret Yoshida. Yoshida may not have an impressive record, but he is a multiple time ADCC competitor and one of the best lighter weight grapplers on the planet. Hioki sometimes forgets his ground dominance and stands up too much. If he is going to win the tournament he needs to stick to his bread and butter.

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Weight issues with DREAM’s featherweight tournament

When Gary Shaw left MMA many were excited because, well for one reason anyway, he took his ridiculous weight classes with him. No longer would MMA fans have to watch fighters contend for his 160 lb title or even worse the 140 lb title.

As of right now, under the unified rules, there are nine weight classes and the general consensus is that it should stay that way. There was widespread public outcry when “Big” John McCarthy and the Association of Boxing Commissions tried to expand to fourteen last July.

So what does this all have to do with DREAM? When it was first made public that the promotion was organizing a featherweight tournament, the actual weight class had not yet been determined. Even after several of the participants had been named there was no word on the actual weight. Jordan Breen, on his radio show, said that the promotion was trying to appeal to Japanese star Norifumi Yamamoto by making the weight class whatever worked best for him.

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Video cram session for DREAM’s Featherweight Tournament

The popular recurring “Video cram session” feature is back. PRO MMA ( always wants to help prepare MMA fans for upcoming cards. In this edition we take a look at this weekend’s DREAM Featherweight Tournament. Videos include: Joe Warren’s world championship wrestling match, a classic Masakazu Imanari heel hook, and Bibiano Fernandes’ fight with Urijah Faber. Don’t be afraid to cram.

Atsushi Yamamoto vs. Masakazu Imanari

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