Newly signed pickup Roger Huerta will kick off the season two tournament, squaring off against unbeaten Chad Hinton (6-0) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Bellator signed the prized free agent Huerta (20-3-1) earlier this week.
Huerta is the first big-name free agent to sign with Bellator. A former top contender in the UFC's 155-pound division, Huerta fought his way to a 6-2 record in the UFC before moving on.
For Hinton, the matchup represents his debut in a major U.S. MMA organization. All of his six fights until now have come in the Midwest regional circuit.
On the same night Huerta and Hinton tangle, a second tourney bout will feature Carey Vanier against Janne Tulirinta. The action continues the next week at the Chicago Theatre, where Pat Curran (9-3) faces off with undefeated Mike Ricci (5-0).
In the last of the first-round matchups, Ferrid Kheder (16-5) meets Toby Imada (20-13), who authored MMA Fighting's "Submission of the Year" for 2009 with his inverted triangle win against Jorge Masvidal. The Kheder-Imada matchup will take place on April 22 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
The season two tournament winner will eventually battle season one winner and current Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez.
Bellator's fights air live each week on Fox Sports Net.