Bellator Welterweight Tournament Participants Announced

Nine of the ten participants of Bellator’s Welterweight Grand Prix were announced during a press conference for the US launch of DAZN, Bellator’s new streaming partner. Bellator President Scott Coker announced the participants himself, while officials told MMAFighting.com that the 10th participant will be named later (the 9th and 10th being alternates). Bellator is currently in the semifinal round of a Heavyweight Grand Prix featuring some great matchups that include: Fedor vs Sonnen and Bader vs. Mitrione. The Welterweight tournament has a diverse group of fighters going head to head. Among the names in the tourney, Rory McDonald, who is the current champion, was the biggest surprise in my opinion. There was some speculation as to whether the Grand Prix would result in the victor being declared the number one contender to fight McDonald for the belt, or if it would be a winner take all tournament with the title on the line. This announcement made it clear, win the tournament, win the belt!

Other interesting and notable names in the tournament include former UFC fighters Jon Fitch and Lorenz Larkin. Fitch, known for his takedowns and ground and pound work, could cause some problems for the more accomplished strikers in the tourney. Inversely, Larkin is one of those phenomenal strikers and has the experience to be very dangerous in this competition. Speaking of strikers, Michael Page (aka MVP) was also announced as a participant, and I for one, am beyond excited. MVP has made a splash in Bellator with his dominating performances and his “unique” style of attack. Some criticism has been cast as to the level of competition that has been presented to MVP, but no longer. If Page can move through this competition, he would have to defeat the best fighters Bellator has to offer. This will be a true test of MVP’s skillset and his ability to adapt to different styles.

A couple of former Bellator welterweight champions will also be part of the tournament as Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov will open the Grand Prix in an anticipated rubber match on September 29th in San Jose, California. Koreshkov defeated Lima in their first bout (unanimous decision) to win the Bellator championship, while Lima knocked out Koreshkov in the rematch to reclaim his title. Submission specialist Neiman Gracie and wrestling phenom and up and comer Ed Ruth will round out the eight-man bracket. Ukrainian Yaroslav Amosov is the first known alternate, while rumor from bjpenn.com suggests Bellator is trying to bring Paul Daley aboard as another alternate. Personally, as a fight fan, I was hoping to see MVP vs. Daley in the opening round of the tournament. While it isn’t outside the realm of possibility, it would be a missed opportunity for Bellator to capitalize on if it wasn’t booked, especially with the bad blood between the two.

Any way this tournament plays out, one thing can be certain, fight fans will be in for a wild ride. Fighters will be tested by an array of different skill sets, as they face off for their chance at Bellator Championship glory. Rising stars will have the opportunity to shine brighter than they have before, as the veteran’s try to prove why they have been at the top and belong there still.

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UFC Boise: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov: Preview and Prediction

Due to the VAST amount of MMA events taking place over the last two days, I will only be covering my predictions. With six fights slated on the main card, by tonight’s end fans of the sport will have had the opportunity to watch 16 fantastic fights (not even including the prelims!) in 48 hours. Here we go!

PREDICTION: Cat Zingano- TKO (RND 3)

2. Chad Mendes- Decision (RND 5)

3. Niko Price- TKO (RND 2)

4. Dennis Bermudez- TKO (RND 3)

5. Sage Northcutt- Decision (RND 3)

6. Junior Dos Santos- KO (RND 2)

Bellator 203 — Pitbull vs. Weichel: Preview and Predicition

The Bellator 203 doubleheader is underway this weekend with a Saturday card at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy (Bellator 202 article here). With six fights slated for this international fight card, we will be introduced to a few up and coming fighters from the surrounding area. In this preview, we will only cover the feature three matchups, but predictions will be cast for all six matchups.

 

Andrey “Spartan” Koreshkov (20-2) vs. Vaso “Psychopath” Bakocevic (33-17-1)

Andrey Koreshkov will enter his 14th battle under the Bellator moniker against a veteran opponent Vaso Bakocevic, who will be making his Bellator debut. This fight showcases a lot of experience, as both fighters have combined for 72 professional fights. The Spartan has not only fought for Bellator since 2012 but has tasted the pinnacle of the promotion, holding, defending, and eventually losing the welterweight title. Koreshkov will be looking to continue his case of being a top contender with another impressive win against the experienced “Psychopath”. With an impressive 33 wins, Vaso is a fighter that lives and dies by his standup. Yes, he has 33 wins and 17 have come by way of KO, but of his 17 losses, 11 have also come via KO. It can be risky for either fighter to decide to stand and trade strikes, and the slight advantage on the ground seems to go to Bakocevic, who has eight submission victories on his resume. Fight IQ may be the difference maker, and the Spartan is one of the craftiest fighters in Bellator. He has been known to approach a fight with a strategy that in no way “mimics his style”. He defeated Douglas Lima for the world title using a series of takedowns, a style of fighting that Koreshkoc is certainly not known for. However this shapes up, MMA fans will be treated to a war in Rome!

PREDICTION: Andrey Koreshkov- TKO (RND 1)

 

Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara (19-12) vs. Jamie Sloane (8-4)

This matchup features two fighters coming off of losses in their last fights. Sakara lost to Rafael Carvalho in a battle for the welterweight world title. Carvalho, the champion at the time, was able to finish Sakara very early in round one via TKO to defend his belt. Sloane also lost in the first round of his last fight, falling to Karlos Vemola by submission (RNC) as he headlined the XFN (X Fight Nights) main event. Looking at the records of both fighters can tell a small story in itself. Of Sloane’s four losses, three have come by way of KO. Similarly, Alessio has been finished eight times (5 KO, 3 Sub), showing a tendency of the two fighters to fight aggressively, despite the dangers of being caught themselves. A fight like that is where casual and hardcore fans are entertained to the fullest. It is fitting that this card is set in Rome, as we are liable to watch a gladiatorial style of fight take place! Legionarius has the slight advantage in my mind with the experience and caliber of opponent he has faced, but I expect a VERY fun fight!

PREDICTION: Alessio Sakara- KO (RND 1)

 

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (26-4) vs. Daniel “Drake” Weichel (39-9)

Just as **SPOILER ALERT** Julia Budd defended her featherweight title on Friday night, Patricio Pitbull will look to remain atop the Bellator featherweight division with a win over Daniel Weichel. The last time these two warriors met, Drake (Weichel) was able to drop Pitbull in the last seconds of round one, only to have Pitbull end the fight 32 seconds into round two with a comeback KO. Weichel has had to wait just five days shy of three years for his rematch, and the setting could not be any more perfect. The fight takes place in the shadow of the Colosseum, a stage revered for its violence and mayhem. I don’t expect this fight to be any different. While Weichel looks to earn his revenge on the younger Pitbull brother, Patricio will look to add to his legacy in the Bellator promotion! This fight will mark 29 Bellator appearances between the two fighters (Pitbull 19th, Weichel 10th) marking a relatively rare occurrence where two promotion vets go head-to-head. Looking at the fight finishing statistics, Pitbull has a slight edge in KO victories (9) while Drake leads in submission victories (22). I would expect Weichel to respect the striking of Patricio a touch more this go around, but I believe he has the confidence to stand and trade. I would like to see him use the striking enough to produce an opening in which he can get Freire to the ground for submission work.

Even though I made the mistake of going against the champ last night and it bit me…

PREDICTION: Daniel Weichel- Decision (RND 5)

 

The remaining card predictions:

Alen Amedovski (5-0) vs. Will Fluery (4-0)

PREDICTION: Will Fluery- TKO (RND 3)

Michele Martignoni (4-0) vs. Simone D’Anna (4-1)

PREDICTION: Simone D’Anna- Decision (RND 5)

 

Simone La Preziosa (3-4) vs. Maxim Radu (8-1)

PREDICTION: Maxim Radu- TKO (RND 1)

 

 

 

Bellator 202 – Budd v. Nogueira: Results

Valentin Moldavsky def, Ernest James via TKO (Strikes) 4:03, Round 2

 

Chris Honeycut def. Leo Leite via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x3)

 

Michael McDonald def. Eduardo Dantas via TKO (Strikes) :58, Round 1

 

Julia Budd def. Talita Nogueira via TKO (Strikes) 4:07, Round 3

Bellator 202 — Budd vs. Nogueira: Preview and Predicitions

Bellator 202: Budd vs. Nogueira is set for July 13th at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The women’s featherweight title is on the line as Julia Budd takes on Talita Nogueira in back-to-back Bellator women main events! If Bellator 201: MacFarlane vs. Lara is any indication of how these women will throw down, then MMA fans are in for a treat this Friday night! Let’s break em down!

Valentin Moldavsky (6-1) vs. Ernest James (0-0)

To kick off the main card we jump right into a heavyweight battle that will play home to Ernest James’ professional debut. While James will look to open his professional career with a W, it is up to Valentin Moldavsky to play spoiler. The seven-fight vet will look to add newcomer James to his list of beaten foes as he tries to set the tone for the remainder of the night. Moldavsky started his pro career off quickly, grabbing three 1st round submission victories inside of three minutes (1:26, 0:47, 2:20), but has since slowed down with his last four fights going the distance. Without much information on Ernest James (one amateur fight according to sherdog.com), it is hard to give a super accurate preview of this matchup. Strangely enough, I would expect this fight to make its way to the ground (not common for heavyweights) as submission attempts will be aplenty.

PREDICTION: Valentin Moldavsky-Unanimous Decision

Chris “The Cutt” Honeycutt (10-2) vs. Leo Leite (10-1)

Another Bellator newbie, Leo Leite made his debut last November against Phil Davis, and came up short, losing by unanimous decision and blemishing his perfect 10-0 record. Leite is a very well-rounded fighter that can finish his opponent (3 KO, 3 Sub) or go the distance and impress for three rounds (4 Dec). Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he faces another very talented wrestler in Chris Honeycutt. Davis used some unorthodox striking and clinch work to defeat Leite, and I could see Honeycutt trying to emulate that approach. “The Cutt” could turn to his wrestling background but will have to be careful on the ground against the talented Brazilian. The All-American wrestler does have some power in his hands and has five KO wins. He is a pressure fighter and will look to land one of those heavy hands, and rely on his wrestling to avoid any takedown attempts by Leite.

PREDICTION: Chris Honeycutt- TKO (RND 2)

Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (20-5) vs. Michael “Mayday” McDonald (18-4)

This co-main event should be a VERY entertaining fight with the former Two-time Bellator Bantamweight champion Dantas taking on former UFC Bantamweight title contender McDonald. Dantas is a Bellator veteran, fighting 12 times for the promotion, earning the belt twice and defending it three times. Dudu has fought some of the best fighters Bellator has to offer en route to those belts, Warren, Galvao, Higo before finally losing the belt to new Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. Seeing Dantas pedigree, McDonald isn’t some slouch himself. He held the Bantamweight belt in a smaller promotion called TPF (Tachi Palace Fights) and had a shot at UFC gold in an interim title shot vs Renan Barao. Mayday is an excellent finisher, stopping all but three fights by KO or submission, whereas Dantas has gone the distance in 10 of his 20 fights with four KOs and six submission wins. Given that both fighters are coming off of recent losses (Ok so it was 2016 for McDonald’s last loss), I hope to see both fighters come out fast and strong, as they try to cement themselves as a top contender in the division. The unique striking and setups that Dudu is known for could present a problem for most fighters, but McDonald has been in this game long enough that I don’t think it will affect him too much.

PREDICTION: Eduardo Dantas- Submission (RND 2)

Julia “The Jewel” Budd vs. Talita “Treta” Nogueira

Once again, Bellator will feature a women’s championship main event. This week, the featherweight world title is on the line as defending champion Julia Budd faces rising star, Talita Nogueira. Julia Budd has fought some of the greatest women’s MMA fighter on the planet, Marloes Coenen, Ronda Rousey, and Amanda Nunes (though losing to the latter two) en route to Bellator’s inaugural featherweight title. Nogueira has risen through the ranks to become a top contender for the title by, simply put, crushing her opponents. Treta is currently 7-0 with all seven wins by stoppage (2 KO, 5 Sub). What’s most impressive, she hasn’t seen the third round in any of her fights. This could be both a blessing and a curse for the Brazilian fighter. If “The Jewel” can get Nogueira into deep water, we may see her conditioning become a factor, especially since Budd is Queen of the decision (6 of 11 wins by decision). Inversely, if Talita is able to pressure Budd, and preferably get her to the ground, Nogueira may still be able to avoid a round three (or later). This fight will come down to takedown defense and who can control ground position best. Budd possesses the power to keep Talita honest, but Nogueira’s ground game is simply terrifying.

PREDICTION: Talita Nogueira- Submission (RND 2)

DWTNCS Season 2, Week 4 Results

The fourth installment of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS), season 2 aired July 10th and resulted in contracts for two new UFC fighters. Below is the result of each fight.
Jalin Turner def. Max Mustaki via TKO (doctor stoppage) 5:00 Round 1
Jordan Espinosa def. Riley Dutro via TKO (punches) 4:58 Round 3
Ricky Palacios def. Toby Misech via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Bevon Lewis def. Alton Cunningham via TKO (knees) 3:01 Round 1
Kevin Aguilar def. Joey Gomez via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Contracts were awarded to Jordan Espinosa and Bevon Lewis. Both fighters had completed on DWTNCS in the past and were really looking to lock up the contract this time around. White, during his announcement, said the matchmakers only wanted one contract but decided to add the second contract on the spot.

UFC 226 New Matchup Preview

With the removal of Max Holloway as the co-main event at UFC 226, Felder v. Perry has been promoted to the main card. I am adding this quick hitter to preview that matchup as well!

 

Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (15-3) vs. Mike “Platinum” Perry (11-3)

While Felder has felt a little slighted by the UFC lately, he has now been promoted to the main card of UFC 226. The Irish Dragon enters the contest riding a three-fight win streak that saw two first round (T)KOs and a second round KO. Perry, however, is currently on a two-fight skid, losing those last two via unanimous decision. Platinum is an electric fighter though, finishing all eleven of his fights by (T)KO! Felder has a slightly more diverse win portfolio, one that does include ten (T)KOs, one submission, and four decisions. With 21 of 26 fights ending by way of KO, this is a matchup that fight fans can truly enjoy! I give the slight edge to Felder, as he goes out to show everyone why he should be a staple on main cards!

PREDICTION: Paul Felder (2nd Rnd) TKO