For the first time in Bellator MMA’s history, the promotion is hosting a pay-per-view event. They have tried in the past, but the main event fell through last go around. Yet again, the main event shifted, but this time, Bellator is going for the main event regardless. The move is very questionable, especially when one considers the likelihood of the Spike TV card being even more entertaining and almost as star-laden.
Alas, the pay-per-view is still happening, and I will make predictions on not only the ppv fights, but also the Spike TV prelims. There are online prelims as well, but no predictions will be made for those.
So far, my overall record for Season 10 is 31-9. That’s because I went 3-1 last week, having gotten 13 of my last 14, and 30 of my last 34 correct. Let’s see if the luck continues tonight.
Spike TV Prelims (8/7c, Spike TV)
Mike Richman (16-4) vs Goiti Yamaguchi (16-2)
Opening up the card is a matchup of fighters who each lost their featherweight tournament quarterfinal bouts. Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Goiti Yamaguchi owns thirteen submission victories, while Richman, simply put, is a brawler. Basically, the winner gets back on the right track, while the loser may wind up out of the promotion.
I like Yamaguchi, but Richman has never been submitted. There’s a first time for everything, but I don’t see that happening tonight. Meanwhile, Yamaguchi has only lost via decision, while Richman has only won via decision twice. Alas, I can’t see it ending any other way, so, prediction: Richman UD.
Fabricio Guerreiro (19-3, 1NC) vs Shabhulat Shamhalaev (12-2-1)
Next up is a matchup of contrasting styles. Shamhalaev is a Muay Thai specialist with a black belt in karate, while Guerreiro is a judo black belt with 12 submission victories. The latter was actually a competitor in TUF: Brazil 1, where he lost to Rodrigo Damm in the entry round. He’s done well since, but Shamhalaev is too good, despite sitting for over a year. Prediction: Shamhalaev via tko, round 2.
Marcin Held (16-3) vs. Nate Jolly (13-5)
Speaking of submission specialists, Held may have less submission wins than Yamaguchi & Guerreiro, but he is much better known and has a brighter future, in my opinion. Held was supposed to fight Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, but Freire got injured. Expect the Bjj black belt to notch in another sub. Prediction: Held via submission, round 2.
Cheick Kongo (20-9-2) vs. Eric Smith (6-1, 1NC)
Heavyweights close out the prelims of Bellator 120. Kongo is a former UFC veteran, going 11-6-1 from July 2006 to last April. He wasn’t very exciting, but the dude is still talented. His fight against Vitaly Minakov in last month’s Bellator heavyweight championship was one of the worst in Bellator history, and hopefully this on goes better.
Bellator clearly hopes so, seeing how they’re handing Kongo a guy who’s 0-1 with a no contest in his last two fights. Kongo should win, and I believe he will, but not with a finish. Prediction: Kongo via UD.
Bellator 120 Main Card (10/9c on PPV)
Michael Page (5-0) vs. Ricky Rainey (8-2)
Opening up the main card is a matchup intended to promote Michael Page. The guy is being lauded as Anderson Silva-esque, and while he is good, that’s quite an overstatement. All of his wins have come via stoppage, but Rainey has the same amount of ko/tko victories as Page has finishes.
I’ve seen some of Page’s fights, and have seen Rainey’s last six fights live. He’s gone 4-2 over that stretch, but won his Bellator debut last month. I must admit, my heart roots for Rainey, but I’ll go with Page here. Prediction: Page via knockout, round 2.
Heavyweight tournament final: Alexander Volkov (21-4) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (11-0, 1NC)
How the Bellator heavyweight final was initially relegated to the prelims is beyond me. Luckily, due to Eddie Alvarez’s unfortunate concussion, this fight gets placed on the PPV. While more people would’ve been able to watch it on Spike, this fight deserves better.
Alas, anyone who read my Bellator 116 preview article knew about how I felt about Ivanov’s story. To go from near death to such a big MMA fight is nothing short of remarkable. That said, everybody is sleeping on Volkov. The man is a Bjj blue belt, but his black belt in full contact karate (kyokushin) has allowed him to score 16 ko/tko finishes. I love Ivanov, but Volkov deserves a rematch with Minakov, and I don’t see Ivanov stopping him tonight. Preiction: Volkov via tko, round 2.
Alexander Shlemenko (50-7) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-11-1)
Tito is back, but I love mini Fedor, and hopefully he knocks Tito out into oblivion for good. Nothing more needs to be said. Prediction: Shlemenko via death choke/monster tko, round 2.
Interim Lightweight championship: Michael Chandler (12-1) vs. Will Brooks (13-1)
THe co-main event stars former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler against “Ill” WIll Brooks. Brooks is good, but so were Akihiro Gono, Rick Hawn and David Rickels, all of whom lost to Chandler after the first Alvarez fight. Brooks might not even be better than those guys, and while I’d love to see him win and put a permanent scorn on Bjorn Rebney’s face, I don’t see it happening. Prediction: Chandler via submission, round 2.
Light Heavyweight Final: Quinton “Rampage Jackson (34-11) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (12-3, 1NC)
What a joke of a fight, starring two joke fighters, in a joke PPV. Match made in heaven, right? Rampage was cool once, but that was before he went full heel on the UFC multiple times, and is now trying to hype up a rivalry against a guy he’s probably really good friends with.
Anyways, let’s try to view this fight in a serious manner. Lawal is a good wrestler, but not as good as he used to be. Jackson is still a good fighter, but he can’t beat any top level guys. Well, Lawal is not top level, which some people argued he once was, when he beat Gegard Mousasi to win the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight belt back in April of 2010. I see him either smothering Jackson, or succumbing to a knockout blow. Prediction: Jackson via tko, round 3.
Hopefully, the card is a good one, and sets a good tone for the Bellator Summer Series, beginning June 6.