Bellator 79 predictions

Rich Hale faces off with Thiago Santos - Bellator

The Bellator train rolls on with a very underrated card on a weekend where regional MMA is shining. In tonight's main card, there are featherweight and heavyweight tournament semifinal bouts along with two featured fights with several well-known and often very entertaining regional MMA fixtures such as Kyle 'The Alley Cat' Baker and Ryan 'Real Deal' Ford.

What: Bellator 79

When: Friday, the MTV2-televised card begins at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday. However, Spike.com will carry the entire fight card beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Where: Casino Rama, Orillia, Canada

Rich Hale vs. Thiago Santos

This could end up being one of the better heavyweight fights Bellator has ever staged. I'm a big believer in Hale. He's a true light heavyweight who is fighting at his walking around weight against a true heavyweight heavyweight in Santos. Hale is quick, an accurate striker, has great finishing instincts and an underrated offensive grappling game. Santos is no slouch either, particularly on the ground. I've just heard rumblings behind the scenes about his preparation and methods to give me pause about how far he can go.

Pick: Hale

Shahbulat Shamhalaev vs. Mike Richman

This is a nice contrast in styles. Shamhalaev is very aggressive, fast, heavy-handed and has damaging ground and pound. Richman is slightly more traditional in his attacks, but very tough and proficient on the ground. The only problem I see is Richman is very hittable while Shamhalaev's gas tank could be better. Tough, tough call, but I'll go with the former Marine. He'll wade through some rough patches to eventually control the fight.

Pick: Richman

Douglas Lima vs. Kobe Ortiz

There isn't much to say here. Lima is the far superior fighter and should win rather easily.

Pick: Lima

Ryan Ford vs. Kyle Baker

Baker is an interesting guy known for clinch battles and what I like to call 'standing ground and pound'. He'll suck opponents into his clinch, hold them with an underhook and then go to work on them with expert ability. The problem is he's coming into the bout in super short notice. The other problem is Ford's wrestling is a lot better than Baker's and should be enough to negate Baker's best attack. The thing is, though, Baker is the sort of guy you need to know about. If you fall into the clinch unsuspectingly, he'll tear you to pieces. Ford better hope someone in his camp gave him the heads up.

Pick: Ford

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