Bellator returns to Spike TV tonight with the launch of their lightweight tournament and a title fight between their light heavyweight champion and the interim light heavyweight champion.
Emanuel Newton looks to avenge a Bellator loss to champion Attila Vegh and become the undisputed champion. As for the lightweight tournament, it's been somewhat beleaguered by injury, but rolls on just the same in what is essentially a logjamed division.
Will Newton become the undisputed champion or can Vegh establish himself as the best in Bellator? Who will move onto the semis in the lightweight tourney? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Friday's fights.
What: Bellator 113
Where: Kansas Star Arena, Mulvane, KS
When: Friday, the five-fight preliminary card starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on Spike.com. The four-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Attila Vegh vs. Emanuel Newton
Their first fight was extremely close and one can easily have scored it for Newton. It wasn't the world's best fight, but Newton did enough. In any case, I think things are going to be different this time around. Newton is not the journeyman he once was. Not only did the Lawal fights elevate his stock, but training adjustments - particularly in the striking department - with new coaches have helped him turn a corner. He's got more than decent takedown defense and unlike Vegh, has been active. If Newton counter fights, he'll give it away, but if he fights up to his potential, he should walk away the undisputed champion.
David Rickels vs. Patricky Pitbull
I like the Pitbull brothers, but they are not equals in terms of their placements in their respective divisions. The other problem this Pitbull brother has is his relative inability to take damage. Rickels is often better than I've given him credit and I suspect will take the fight to Pitbull where he'll eventually force the Brazilian to make a mistake in an open exchange, which is where he'll pay.
Held is flaky if you ask me, but he's got more experience at this level and a skill set that could give Cavalheiro problems. Then again, someone who is a fast starter and a single dimension threat can just as easily crumble if things don't go his way when he needs it to. I'll give him the nod, but don't be surprised if he gets a first-round submission or a late drubbing.
Welch is coming into this one late and isn't quite the fighter Campos is, but isn't entirely out of it either. There's nothing Campos does Welch couldn't necessarily overcome. Campos is talented, but not so far from Welch that this isn't doable. The key for Campos is to avoid early striking exchanges, which is Welch's only real chance at victory.