Bellator Fighting Championships will kick off its Season 4 featherweight tournament on March 19, with all four quarterfinal matchups being contested at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Okla.
Sherdog.com has learned from sources close to the event that Georgi Karakhanyan (Pictured) will meet Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, while Zac George takes on Wilson Reis. Rounding out the quarterfinals will be bouts pitting Eric Larkin against Kenny Foster and Daniel Straus against Nazareno Malegarie. The event will air live on MTV2.
Karakhanyan competed in Bellator’s Season 2 tournament, falling to eventual champion Joe Warren in the semis after knocking out Bao Quach in the first round. Prior to his defeat to Warren in 2010, the 25-year-old had lost only once over his three-year professional career. A brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu Karakhanyan owns eight of his 14 career victories by submission.
Only 23 years old, Freire has finished 11 of his 14 victims. Like his opponent, the Brazilian also competed in the Season 2 draw, outpointing the aforementioned Reis in the semifinals before losing to Warren in the final.
George has won six straight contests leading up to his Bellator debut. The Team Quest product is a veteran of the defunct International Fight League and has finished 17 of his 20 career victims by either knockout or submission.
EliteXC’s first and last bantamweight champ, Reis is a veteran of both of Bellator’s previous 145-pound tournaments. In Season 1, he fell to Joe Soto in the championship round; the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt lost to Freire in the semis of Season 2. Most recently, Reis earned a split decision victory over Deividas Taurosevicius at Bellator 33 in October.
Larkin is undefeated in his nascent professional career. Most recently, the 2003 NCAA Div. I wrestling champion netted himself a successful Bellator debut by submitting Marcus Andrusia in September. A product of Team Bombsquad, Foster has won seven of his last eight outings. “The Tooth Fairy” made his promotional debut at Bellator 33, earning a unanimous decision over Lester Caslow.
Straus rides a 10-fight winning streak heading into the tournament, most recently outpointing former WEC standout Karen Darabedyan at Shark Fights 13 in September. Malegerie is undefeated in 19 professional outings, racking up 12 submission victories in his three-year career. The Brazilian fought five times in 2010, finishing all but one of his foes in that span.
The champion of the featherweight draw will be awarded $100,000 in total pay and a shot at Bellator’s reigning 145-pound king -- Warren. Bellator will also hold tournaments in the lightweight, welterweight and light heavyweight divisions during Season 4.