Bellator’s Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament is starting to take shape as wrestling Olympian turned professional fighter Alexis Vila has been added to the eight-man tournament that kicks off in September. Vila joins fellow bantamweights Eduardo Dantas, Chase Beebe, Marcos Galvao, Luis Nogueira, Ed West, and Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, who will be dropping down to bantamweight, as confirmed participants in the upcoming tournament.
“With fighters like Joe Warren, Eduardo Dantas, Marcos Galvao, Chase Beebe, Luis, Ed, and now Alexis, this bantamweight tournament is absolutely loaded next season,” said Bellator chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Vila is a wrestling Olympian that knocks his opponents out, and that makes him a huge problem for anyone he fights.”
Born in Cuba, Vila joins Bellator with a spotless 9-0 record, including finishes in eight of his nine fights (six knockouts and two submissions). A two-time freestyle wrestling world champion, Vila represented Cuba in the 1996 Olympic Games, earning a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling. Shortly after the victory, Vila moved to the United States and quickly established himself as one of the premier collegiate wrestling instructors in the country, including training UFC veterans Rashad Evans and Gray Maynard at Michigan State. While only standing at five-foot-four, Vila certainly isn’t short on confidence.
“I feel like I’m the best bantamweight in the world right now,” said Vila. “I have everything. I have all the training and all the tools. People don’t even know. Nobody has the stand-up that I have, the wrestling I have, or the strength that I have.”
While reigning Bellator Bantamweight World Champion Zack Makovsky will be watching the tournament closely, Vila isn’t concerned about any opponents that may stand in his way on the way to the Bellator bantamweight title.
“I’m not worried about any of the guys I’m going to fight in the future,” said Vila. “When they fight me, they’re going to find out that it’s a different story. I’m not the same guys they’ve fought before. When they feel how strong I am and how strong I punch, they’re going to change their mind really fast. So I’m not worried about Joe Warren, or Zack Makovsky, or any of these guys – they have to worry about me.”
Vila’s addition to the Bellator roster makes him the fourth Olympian currently calling the promotion home. Vila joins his good friend and current Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard, a Cuban Judo Olympian; Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, a U.S. freestyle wrestling Olympian; and Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament finalist Rick Hawn, a U.S. Judo Olympian.
“I’m here at Bellator to take the belt. I’m not here to play games. I feel like that belt’s already mine, now I just have to fight to get it, and I’m not worried about nobody,” said Vila. “I’m here at Bellator to become a world champion, and to be recognized as the best bantamweight fighter in the world.”