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Bellator 136 predictions

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Bellator lightweight title is up for grabs as champion Will Brooks takes on a tournament champion from a previous Bellator era who, until now, has yet to receive his awarded title shot in Dave Jansen. The card also features the return of MMA and kickboxing crossover talent Joe Schilling as well as Bellator staples Alexander Volkov, Marcin Held and more.

What: Bellator 136: Brooks vs. Jansen

Where: Bren Events Center, Irvine, CA.

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.

Will Brooks vs. Dave Jansen

It's hard to believe only now is Dave Jansen getting his promised title shot for winning the season 7 lightweight tourney. He's 35 now and even if he somehow grabs the belt, it's hard to imagine him holding onto it for very long. In any case, I favor Brooks here. Jansen is an extremely underrated scrambler and has some form of rehearsed offense from virtually every common scenario in MMA, but Brooks should be too athletic, too quick and too proactive with his wrestling to be stopped here. I expect Jansen to do better than most expect, but to be on the obvious defensive end of the equation in what should ultimately be a route.

Pick: Brooks

Joe Schilling vs. Rafael Carvalho

The presumption here is that the Brazilian isn't or isn't much of a takedown threat, which seems fairly safe to assume, although one never knows. Still, if he tries to take it to the floor, I'm guessing Schilling has enough defensive or stalling tactics to avoid damage or force a restart on the feet. And on the feet, my only concern for Schilling would be over confidence or starting slow. Carvalho isn't a flashy striker by any stretch. He's entirely conventional and somewhat mellow in his pace. That can be trouble early for Schilling if he's not moving or somehow thinking his better combinations will eventually just win out. In the end, though, Schilling is significantly better standing. If he can avoid early trouble, use plenty of movement and then simply let his combinations go, this is his fight to lose.

Pick: Schilling

Marcin Held def. Alexander Sarnavskiy

I'm going to take the dog and go with the Polish leg lock specialist in Held. Sarnavskiy's takedown defense is massively improved and so long as this stays on the feet, Held's time is limited. That said, I'm guessing Held's stateside training and ability to score relatively esoteric leg submissions from positions or transition spots Sarnavskiy doesn't even recognize will work here. It won't be easy for Held and it might call for a desperation takedown or two, but he can get this done.

Pick: Held

Alexander Volkov def. Tony Johnson

Volkov's getting better, but is still very much a work in progress. So much so that one wonders if we haven't already seen his ceiling. Let's assume that's true. Even if it is, it's higher than Johnson's. Volkov's takedown defense with his back against the cage is serviceable and for talent under elite par at heavyweight, he's a bit of a nightmare at range. He puts combinations together well, which chew up fighters like Johnson who really on heavy hooks or rushing forward.

Pick: Volkov

From the preliminary card:

Fabrício Guerreiro def. John Teixeira
Saad Awad def. Rob Sinclair
Joey Beltran def. Brian Rogers
Jay Bogan def. Justin Governale

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