Bellator's more pedestrian Friday night show returns to Spike TV tonight, this time with a slugfest between two middleweights in the main event. The card also features the return of top talent Pat Curran against tournament champion Daniel Weichel and blue-chip prospect Chris Honeycutt.
What: Bellator 133: Shlemenko vs. Manhoef
Where: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
When: Friday, the preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. ET on Spike.com/MMA Fighting. The four-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Melvin Manhoef
Shlemenko has a number of faults, something that is impossible to overlook in the wake of the Tito Ortiz and Brandon Halsey fights, but taking a decent shot isn't one of them. If nothing else, Shlemenko has fantastic durability. I'm sure even that's declined a bit since the days when he took Hector Lombard's best shots and kept going, but it should be enough to keep him in the fight until he can crack Manhoef, whose ability to take a shot is badly compromised.
Pat Curran vs. Daniel Weichel
This is the best and most competitive fight on the card. Weichel is a real fighter, with great movement, a superb jab, proactive offense and sturdy takedown defense. The problem is Curran is all those things, too, but slightly better at just about everything. I'd also argue Curran is the power puncher between the two. He certainly has more experience against top-level opposition. Weichel might be able to pressure Curran in spots. That'll enable him to steal a round, potentially, but not enough to take the fight.
Julia Budd vs. Gabrielle Holloway
Budd is just better everywhere, particularly in the experience and athleticism department. Holloway might be able to make things interesting at distance, but that's likely it. I suspect Budd is going to have a noticeable speed and skill differential in her favor.
Chris Honeycutt vs. Clayton MacFarlane
Honeycutt has tremendous upside. After wrestling at 197 in college and only losing out on the national championships by three points, he's now a welterweight. He is powerful, imposing and good about sticking to his strengths as he augments his skill set. I expect him to bulldoze MacFarlane.