Soto, Reyes Advance in Bellator Tournament

By Brian Knapp May 8, 2009
Joe Soto marched right past the favored Wilson Reis and into the Bellator Fighting Championships featherweight tournament final, and for the second time in as many weeks, the young ESPN-backed promotion generated a highlight-reel finish.

A Palace Fighting Championship veteran, the still unbeaten Soto frustrated Reis en route to a unanimous decision in the featured bout at BFC 6 on Friday at the Central Pavilion Arena in Robstown, Texas. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Soto.

Soto (6-0) had Reis on his heels throughout the match and dictated the action with superior stand-up and wrestling skills. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and former EliteXC bantamweight champion, Reis (7-1) never brought the fight to the ground, where his world-class submission skills might have come into play. Soto’s takedown defense was impeccable, and he slowly built his lead with strikes.

Forced to go the distance for the first time as a professional, Soto will face Yahir Reyes in the tournament final next month.

After a relatively uneventful first round, Reyes (14-5, 1 NC) knocked out Estevan Payan -- who failed to make weight for their bout -- with a spinning back fist 1:56 into round two and secured his spot in the 145-pound final. The 23-year-old Reyes has won six straight, five of them finishes, none of them quite as dramatic as this one. He caught Payan (7-2) with a head kick, faked a low kick, lured in the Arizona Combat Sports standout and delivered the knockout blow.

The Reyes KO comes on the heels of Toby Imada’s exquisite triangle choke submission against American Top Team stalwart Jorge Masvidal at BFC 5 one week ago in Dayton, Ohio.

In non-tournament action, Luis Palomino stopped EliteXC veteran Nick Gonzalez on first-round strikes 2:13 into their match. Gonzalez (14-8) protested the stoppage, which appeared to come too soon. Palomino (10-5), meanwhile, snapped his two-fight losing streak.

Elsewhere, middleweight Robert McDaniel submitted Chris Spicer with a rear-naked choke 2:53 into their match. The EliteXC and King of the Cage veteran still has never gone the distance in 17 career bouts. McDaniel (12-5) has delivered 10 of his 12 wins by submission, eight of them inside one round.

A scheduled lightweight tilt pairing Diego Garijo and Hector Munoz was cancelled after Munoz was taken to the hospital for what was believed to be dehydration. He missed weight by eight and a half pounds when he hit the scales on Friday.

Other Bouts
Roberto Vargas def. Daniel Pineda -- Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jose Santibanez def. Dustin Phillips -- Tapout (Rear-Naked Choke) 3:34 R1
Hector Urbina def. Ira Boyd -- TKO (Leg Inury Injury) 0:19 R1

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