What a year it’s been at Bellator in 2015. There have been some notable highs, as well as some extreme lows. Regardless, the promotion is looking to end the year with a bang.
No UFC this week, which means Bellator and Legacy will own the weekend, until the UFC unleashes nine days of fury upon the MMA universe
Tonight’s card isn’t exactly must-watch, but it’s still a damn solid card. Actually, it’s a really good card. Every main card fighter is a known name, at least to hardcore fans, and the fights should still be relatively fun.
Former Strtikeforce Lightweight Champion and former UFC contender Josh Thomson will partake in his second Bellator bout against veteran Pablo Villaseca in the headliner, while the co-headliner is a must-watch bout between Featherweight contenders Daniel Weichel and former WSOF champion Georgi Karakhanyan. Derek Anderson, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Virgil Zwicker and Brian Rogers make up the rest of the main card.
Without further ado, here are my main card predictions for the final Bellator card of 2015.
Virgil Zwicker (14-4) vs. Brian Rogers (11-8)
The opening bout of the main card is a Light Heavyweight bout that is sure to end in hellacious fashion. Both men are knockout artists, and each one needs a win for opposing reasons.
Rogers, a Bellator mainstay for four years now, has nine knockouts to his credit. He has also lost four of his last five, and six of his last nine. Another loss, and he might have to give up the sport.
Meanwhile, Zwicker is a prospect who has has ten knockouts, but has not beaten a notable fighter since 2009. That’s when he defeated Ovince St. Preux, back when the latter was an unknown fighter with a 3-3 record. He’s lost to every other notable name he’s fought, including Lavar Johnson, Guto Inocente and Linton Vassell. Zwicker is 2-1 with a no contest with Bellator, but the two wins have come against Houston Alexander (via controversial decision) and Razak Al-Hassan, both of whom peaked before 2010. Still, Rogers isn’t exactly better than either of them, and while he could land a lucky shot, I’m still picking Zwicker. Prediction: Zwicker via late tko or decision.
Patricky Freire (14-6) vs. Derek Anderson (12-2)
Up next is a Lightweight grudge between two fighters who have faced some adversity. Since their initial match over two years ago, both men have gone in opposite directions.
Anderson began his career 11-0, including a decision win over Freire in September of 2013, and capped by a tko win over recently surging Brandon Girtz. Since then, he is 1-2, with losses to recent title challenger Marcin Held and Brent Primus. A loss tonight, and the sails will fly off the once promising prospect.
Meanwhile, the other “Pitbull” brother has turned over a new leaf since bottoming out against Anderson. That loss had marked three straight for Patricio’s brother, and was his fourth loss in five attempts. Since then, he has won four of five, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Marcin Held.
In a new level of his career, Freire believes he should win this fight, and I can’t help but to agree with him. I don’t think he’ll notch his tenth knockout victory tonight, but I do see him prevailing in a thoroughly enjoyable decision. Prediction: Freire via decision.
Daniel Weichel (35-9) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (24-4-1)
As is often the case with Bellator events these days the co-main event of the evening will be must-watch stuff, once again moreso than the actual headliner. This time, former WSOF champion Georgi Karakhanyan will look to continue climbing the ropes of Bellator’s Flyweight division against recent title challenger Daniel Weichel.
Just two years ago, Karakhanyan looked to be the man who would be an integral part of WSOF’s brand, alongside Lightweight champ Justin Gaethje, double beltholder David Branch and Bantamweight titleholder Marlon Moraes. However, in his first title defense, the Armenian was stunned by Rick Glenn, succumbing to a shocking corner stoppage after two rounds in June 2014, and losing the title many had predicted he would hold on to for years to come.
After the loss, Karakhanyan looked to leave WSOF as a whole, and was resigned by Bellator almost four years after leaving the promotion with a 2-2 record, facing the likes of Joe Warren, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, and Anthony Leone. He won his return fight against Bubba Jenkins less than two minutes into the bout, garnering his 14th career submission that night.
Tonight, he faces a man known for submissions even moreso than Karakhanyan is! A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt just like his counterpart, Weichel has reeled off 21 submissions of his own. He is best known for his chokes, and has been on quite a run of late. Having won 17 of his last 20 bouts, including seven straight prior to a stunning knockout loss to then champion Patricio Freire in a fight he was dominating prior to the shot, the German looks to right the ship and get another winning streak going.
Honestly, I don’t know who to pick here. Both men are grappling wizards and a threat to win at any point in time. I’ll go with Karakhanyan, but if I’m wrong, I won’t be surprised. Not one bit. Prediction: Karakhanyan via decision.
Josh Thomson (21-8, 1NC) Pablo Villaseca (10-1)
Josh Thomson can be fun to watch. He can also be a grinder at times. Villaseca is equally polar in his fights. That said, I’m picking Thomson. I don’t see him getting his 11th career submission victory tonight, but I do see him winning the fight. Prediction: Thomson via late tko or decision.