Bellator continues its more conventional show Friday night, albeit with a card somewhat hampered by injuries. In the main event, the bantamweight title is up for grabs as champion Joe Warren tries to hold onto it against Marcos Galvao, a fighter he defeated years ago. UFC veteran Francis Carmont is also on the card as is Strikeforce alumnus Ryan Couture.
What: Bellator 135: Warren vs. Galvao
Where: WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, OK.
When: Friday, the preliminary card starts at 7 p.m. ET on MMA Fighting. The four-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Joe Warren vs. Marcos Galvao
I, and many others, have been sleeping on Warren since his bad loss to Pat Curran. The thinking went the loss itself was quite bad, takedown defense in MMA is improving, Warren's getting older, his comeback opponents seemed like set-up fights and so on. When one of his bouts was cancelled last minute due to concerns about brain injuries, I think mostly, fairly or not, wrote him off. But if you watched the Eduardo Dantas fight, you had to eat your words. His takedown set-ups are massively improved, his cardio is still fantastic, his arsenal of takedown is still very complete and his drive hasn't seemed to dissipate at all. This bout with Galvao is a rematch and Warren won the first. Given his surprising resurgence, I see little reason to continue doubting him.
Tokoro is a hell of a fighter, but he's not the wrestler Davis is, nor is he the physical presence at this weight class. I look to the American, if he doesn't spend too long striking on the outside, to dominate in the clinch, with the takedown and top control en route to a unanimous decision win.
Francis Carmont vs. Guilherme Viana
I'm not sure I even believe this pick, but Bellator has a way to reconfiguring how you view UFC veterans when they move over. Carmont is who we know him to be. On tape, Viana looks to be a lesser version of the same sort of thing, but part of me wonders if he'll be able to lord that over Carmont. I wonder if he'll stuff Carmont, lock him up in the clinch where Viana is sometimes off balanced, but very strong and then move into top control with a trip (a form of takedowns where he also excels). From there, he's a decent to good submission threat.
Dakota Cochrane vs. Ryan Couture
Cochrane is inconsistent and perhaps not the fighter Couture is, but if I'm being honest with myself, I do think a focused Cochrane can outwrestle Couture here. I'm not saying that's likely, but it's hardly a crazy idea. I'm going to side with Couture on the belief that Cochrane loses focus and makes too many poor decisions with spacing to give him the nod, but I just can't get behind Couture's wrestling until I see him physically handle the pressure for three rounds.