In yet another move sure to excite hardcore Canadian MMA fans, Bellator Fighting Championship has announced the signing of lightweight Mike Ricci (5-0 [pictured left]) who is now set to fight in their upcoming, season-long, lightweight tournament. Ricci is a training partner of UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (19-2) at Montreal's TriStar Gym. Head trainer Faras Zhabi says, "It’s a long road to become the next GSP, but Ricci is the farthest along that road of anyone we’ve got...He’s up for a much bigger challenge on an international stage and Bellator gives him that chance."
Last week, Bellator also announced the signing of Canadian featherweight stand-out Will "Leon" Romero (5-0) who trains at Iron Tiger Muay Thai in Brampton, Ontario.
For those not familiar with the relatively new promotion, Bellator aired its first season last year primarily on ESPN Deportes, which is a Spanish language version of the popular sports network. The show included star-studded eight-man tournaments at four different weight classes: middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight. The format and the weekly show itself proved wildly popular, especially after Bellator began releasing official highlight packages on internet video giant Youtube.com. In particular, Yahir Reyes' (14-6) spectacular spinning-backfist finish and an amazing inverted triangle by Toby Imada (22-13) went viral with internet-savvy MMA fans.
At the end of the season, Bellator crowned the tournament winners [MW: Hector Lombard (22-2-1), WW: Lyman Good (10-0), LW: Eddie Alvarez (19-2), FW: Joe Soto (8-0)] as their first champions at each weight class. The second season's winners in each weight class will earn the right to be the first challenger to those belts.
The second season of Bellator Fighting Championship will air live on Fox Sports Net beginning April 8th, 2010. Weekly edited recap shows will also be broadcast on both NBC and Telemundo. See Bellator's full, season-two TV schedule here: http://bellator.com/tv.html.