Bellator 75 predictions

Esther Lin, Showtime

The season 7 heavyweight tournament kicks off tonight on MTV2 with a few familiar names, a light heavyweight moving up a weight class and a quarterfinal bout that aims to settle one of MMA's stranger 'grudge' matches.

Bellator launches their season 7 heavyweight tournament this evening with one very familiar face trying to turn his career around, a light heavyweight moonlighting as a heavyweight and a host of lesser known figures. While it's not really clear what the value add is for Bellator having a heavyweight division at this point in time (especially with the departure of Cole Konrad), the heavyweight train rolls on.

What: Bellator 75

When: Friday, the MTV2-televised card begins at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday. However, will carry the entire fight card beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Where: Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, Indiana

Predictions below for the four heavyweight quarterfinal bouts.

Eric Prindle vs. Thiago Santos

If he's in shape and has been training, I don't see how Santos can lose this fight. He's better than Prindle in every dimension of the fight. Perhaps most importantly, he's significantly better than Prindle in the takedown-to-submission sequence. I suppose there's always room for more inadvertent groin shots, but unless that rears its ugly head Santos is going to cruise.

Pick: Santos

Alexander Volkov vs. Brett Rogers

I'm not sure Rogers has rebounded from the losses in his career or the rather unsavory legal troubles he's experienced. Even then, if he were to rebound, what would that actually mean? How good would he really be? It's an important question and one that will get an answer should he advance through the tournament. He's training with American Top Team. That certainly cannot hurt. Perhaps more importantly, I don't think Volkov has much for him. Rogers struggles mightily against elite heavyweights and while Volkov isn't altogether unskilled, he does nothing 'next level'. This is Rogers' fight to lose. As for the whole tournament? We'll see.

Pick: Rogers

Mike Wessel vs. Richard Hale

Hale is basically a good light heavyweight with a large frame fighting up a weight class and a good light heavyweight should beat an ok heavyweight more often than not. Short of a miraculous punch from Wessel, I don't see how Hale loses this fight. In fact, he might win the entire tournament, which is sort of an important commentary on the state of Bellator's heavyweight division.

Pick: Hale

Mark Holata vs. Vinicius Queiroz

Queiroz's situation is a strange one. The guy last fought at UFC 120 where he was submitted in the third round by Rob Brougton. He tested positive for steroids and the UFC cut him. He hasn't competed since. I'm not the world's biggest believer in Holata's chances down the stretch, but at a minimum he's been active. That doesn't count for a ton, but it's not a negligible factor either.

Neither of these heavyweights necessarily possesses the sort of defensive fundamentals to be a true difference maker. This fight is likely to be more a measure of who is more proactive. On that count, the guy who's been more regularly competitive gets the nod.

Pick: Holata

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