We're almost halfway through Bellator's sixth season, if you can believe it. Tonight's fighters don't quite have the name value of a Ben Askren or Rick Hawn, but they're still very respectable talents. Bellator's bantamweight tournament continues tonight and the bantamweight title itself is up for grabs. There's also a featherweight tournament semifinal. In addition, UFC veteran Kris McCray and Bellator standout Lyman Good look to secure their spots tonight (although, not against one another) in the season seven welterweight tournament on tonight's preliminary card.
When: Friday, the MTV2-televised card begins at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday. However, Spike.com will carry the entire fight card.
Where: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Predictions below for the bantamweight title fight, a featherweight tournament semi-final and two bantamweight quarterfinals.
I actually think Nogueira is a talented upstart with a respectable upside. I'm not sure he'll carry championship gold from a major organization during his MMA career, but he's got a lot of tools to be competitive with upper echelon fighters. And it's a shame Vila is as old as he even if he's still very competitive. Despite Nogueira's potential and Vila's age, though, I still believe Vila has more than enough tools to move on into the semis of this tournament. Nogueira won't necessarily go easy, but Vila is a different class of fighter.
Oddsmakers have Galvao as the slight favorite heading into this bout and that's understandable, but West is flying under the radar. His only Bellator losses - both highly competitive affairs - came to current champion Makovsky and top challenger Dantas. I don't know if West will be able to lord over Galvao any submission prowess, but he should be able to avoid trouble by maintaining dominant top position. Either way, should be a highly competitive affair.
Pick: I like Mike Corey quite a bit, if for no other reason than I am also a former United States Marine. But Straus is going to be handful for him. Corey's obviously more comfortable on the ground and while he does have the edge there, Straus' takedown defense should be sufficient to keep him upright long enough to do damage. On the feet, Ronnie Mann was able to light Corey on fire. I see Straus having similar ease.
I've gone back and forth on this one. Honestly, it's so close that a pick for either guy is justified. Without going into detail about skills - both guys are capable of hurting and scoring on one another virtually anywhere - I ultimately think Makovsky's base and ability to win the scrambles will be the difference. It won't be easy and it wouldn't shock me at all if he lost. But over the course of a five-round fight, Makovsky's wrestling and submission grappling transitions are going to be the difference maker.
From the preliminary card:
Lyman Good vs. LeVon Maynard (season 7 welterweight tournament qualifier)
Maynard is a staple of the Mid-Atlantic MMA regional circuit. I've actually commentated a few of his fights. I know and respect him enormously. He's a very good athlete and has meaningful experience, but Good is probably just too much for him. He's as good if not better of an athlete, but more importantly, is a more powerful and technical striker. I wouldn't say Maynard is chiny, but I wouldn't say he's Nogueira either. This is Good's fight to lose.
Ailton Barbosa vs. Kris McCray (season 7 welterweight tournament qualifier)
Not much to add here. I'd be surprised if Barbosa won. His strengths are McCray's strengths, which is to say McCray's got the better strengths of the two. McCray didn't have the UFC career he'd hoped for, but he is a strong, physical wrestler with respectable submission skills. That should be enough to get the win.