Ranking the 8 Bellator Middleweight Tournament Competitors

Tim McTiernan@tmt2393Correspondent IMarch 12, 2012

Ranking the 8 Bellator Middleweight Tournament Competitors

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    This Saturday, the Bellator season-six middleweight tournament kicks off, featuring eight fighters who many people may not have heard of.

    However, just because you haven't heard of them doesn't mean they aren't good fighters.

    These eight men will be looking to earn three victories and, with that, earn a shot at the winner of the Hector Lombard-Alexander Shlemenko fight.

    Let's take a look at the eight men involved in the tournament and learn a little about each of them.

8. Bruno Santos

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    It's not often that you start off ranking fighters having the undefeated guy lowest, but that's exactly what's happening here.

    Bruno Santos is 12-0 in his MMA career, and has one TKO victory—via corner stoppage—and one submission victory. So that comes out to ten decisions.

    He is currently on a streak of nine straight decision wins, including having gone 25 minutes three times.

    Saturday night will mark his Bellator debut, and he'll be facing off against Giva Santana.

7. Norman Paraisy

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    Norman Paraisy is 10-1-1 (1 NC) in his MMA career, and has fought in Bellator once before, almost two years ago.

    Overall, he has seven finishes, with two TKO victories and five submissions.

    His most high-profile fight came against the former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne, a fight that took place in the Bellator cage.

6. Victor O'Donnell

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    Victor O'Donnell is 11-3 in his MMA career, and he's a bit of a submission whiz. He has nine wins by submission and just one by TKO.

    He has competed against several current UFC fighters, including Rafael Natal—whom he defeated—and Costa Philippou—who beat him.

    O'Donnell was in the season-five middleweight tournament, and he lost to Brian Rogers in the quarterfinals. He will face off against Vyacheslav Vasilevsky in the quarterfinals this season.

5. Brian Rogers

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    Brian Rogers is the least experienced fighter in the tournament, but he still has 11 fights under his belt and a pro record of 8-3.

    Of his eight wins, he finished all eight of his opponents—seven by (T)KO and one via submission.

    Unfortunately for Rogers, he was a victim of Alexander Shlemenko and his tear through the season-five tournament last "season."

    Rogers will face off against Vitor Vianna in the first round of the tournament this season.

4. Vitor Vianna

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    Vitor Vianna has been around the Bellator cage before, and he made it to the finals of the season-five middleweight tournament, where he lost to Alexander Shlemenko.

    Overall, Vianna is 12-2-1 in his MMA career, and the other loss on his record came to the UFC light heavyweight, Thiago Silva.

    Of Vianna's 12 wins, he has five (T)KOs and four submission wins.

    Vianna will be looking to get back to the finals this season and potentially earn a second shot at Alexander Shlemenko.

3. Vyacheslav Vasilevsky

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    Vyacheslav Vasilevsky is 15-1 in his career, and he has five wins by (T)KO, five wins by submission and five wins by decision. He's a pretty well rounded guy.

    Vasilevsky is a former M-1 Global Light Heavyweight Champion, and he is currently riding a 14-fight win streak.

    Saturday will mark his debut in the Bellator Fighting Championships organization, when he will face off against Victor O'Donnell.

2. Maiquel Falcao

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    Perhaps the most well-known entrant into the tournament is the UFC veteran, Maiquel Falcão.

    Falcão had one fight in the Octagon, and he won a decision over Gerald Harris at UFC 123. He was supposed to fight Tom Lawlor at UFC 134, but was released from the organization due to his assault charge in 2002.

    Since his release, he has gone 2-1, with two first-round TKO victories in a combined 1:43.

    Overall he is 28-4 (1 NC) and has 23 (T)KO victories and three submission victories.

1. Givanildo Santana

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    Givanildo Santana is 17-1 in his pro MMA career, and he may be Ronda Rousey's idol.

    Santana has 15 submission victories and one TKO, but the impressive part is the fact that he has won 13 fights with armbars, including ten in a row in the first round earlier in his career. He has also only left the first round three times.

    Santana's pro MMA debut came in a tournament, and he won all four fights that he had, including three first-round armbars.

    Santana is my early pick for the Bellator season-six middleweight tournament winner.

    Tim McTiernan is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For the latest news on everything MMA, follow him on Twitter @TimMcTiernan.