Bellator returns to action this evening with two tournament semifinals. In the lightweight semis, UFC veteran Rich Clementi tangles with submission ace Marcin Held. In the welterweight semis, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Ricardo Tirloni faces off with Dave Jansen. Tonight's fight card also features the return of Marlon Sandro as well as a battle of intriguing prospects.
What: Bellator 81
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: Ryan Center, Kingston, Rhode Island
Held is aggressive and will likely bum rush Clementi from the opening bell. I just don't know if that's the right strategy against an ultra-experienced veteran whose primarily talent in submission grappling. Held might make it interesting for a round, but I see him fading after that. Clementi has had his career ups and downs, but he's dangerous and very tricky when he competes on the terms where he does best.
Dave Jansen vs. Ricardo Tirloni
Jansen's a very good scrambler, wrestler and submission grappler. In all three of those respects, he might be better than Tirloni. However, Tirloni is a much bigger and stronger athlete and talented enough in the dimensions of the game where Jansen excels to at least hang if not outright stop Jansen's attack. Jansen also is a bit of a slow starter, something Tirloni will likely take advantage of. I see the Brazilian moving on to the finals.
Dustin Neace vs. Marlon Sandro
Sandro is going to roll here. I don't know which way he's going to win, but of any fight on this card where there's certainty about the outcome, this is it. Also, props to Bellator for giving blue chip guys tune-ups. I know some folks are against it, but I'm not. It's a long-term investment and will pay dividends down the road.
Jonas Billstein vs. Perry Filkins
This is a tough call. Billstein is a decent German prospect, but has a long way to go before he's anything to write home about. Filkins has very good power, but only wins when he blasts opponents out in the first round. That's enough of a red flag for me. I'm sure Flikins hits incredibly hard, but when you've never won outside of the first round, it probably means you aren't fighting the best guys possible.