Bellator 115 predictions

Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

After a card devastated by injury and illness, there isn't much left save the main event. Bellator returns tonight for a trip to Nevada, but without much in tow. There are no tournament bouts on the card and the opening fight on the main card is at a catchweight.

Still, the main event holds some promise. Arguably the best heavyweight in mixed martial arts outside of the UFC in Vitaly Minakov defends his Bellator heavyweight strap against the former UFC contender in Cheick Kongo. Will Kongo reach his dream of winning a major title or is Minakov set to continue on his pa

What: Bellator 115

Where: Reno Events Center, Reno, Nevada

When: Friday, the four-fight preliminary card starts at 7 p.m. ET on The four-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.

Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov

Kongo is admirable in a number of ways. He's easy to talk to despite the partial language barrier. He is well-liked among those who've trained with him and while he's had some less than auspicious moments in the cage, he's provided fans with memories of wild momentum swings and unrivaled brutality. But this is all a way of expressing sentimentality and not much else. If we're talking less about how we like him or more about the challenge in front of him in this contest, we have far fewer favorable things to say.

It's possible Minakov can eat a huge shot or being wrestled to the point where he loses three rounds (I don't see how Kongo can do that for five), but it's unlikely. Minakov is the best heavyweight talent not currently fighting in the UFC. He has excellent submissions, good MMA wrestling and more than serviceable striking. More importantly, he doesn't make many errors. As Kongo ages, he makes more clumsy choices, causing him to revert to safe positions. The trouble is there aren't very many safe positions against the prodigious talent of Minakov.

Pick: Minakov

Herman Terrado vs. Justin Baesman

Terrado has all sorts of issues that prevent him from being an elite fighter, but I'd be shocked if he lost this fight. It takes a fairly deft hand to avoid this hulking monster's strengths and I have a hard time believing Baesman is the guy. Expect a wild but powerful Terrado to be proactive with his punches, pushing Baesman back, where he'll connect and follow up for the ground and pound finish.

Pick: Terrado

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Kelly Anundson

There's a lot of hype around the Swiss bruiser and he looked decent enough in his Bellator debut. We still don't know much about him and even less about his ATT opponent in terms of their ceilings, but I'll give Switzerland the nod here.

Pick: Oezdemir

Johnny Cisneros vs. Mikkel Parlo

Parlo has to be careful on the feet against the aggression and pressure of Cisneros, but that's sort of what Parlo does anyone. He sits behind the jab, never or rarely gets into prolonged exchanges and chips away at opposition. Given that he's done this to far better fighters than Cisneros, a Parlo win is a fairly expected thing here.

Pick: Parlo

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