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Bellator 137 predictions

Photo via Bellator MMA

Bellator returns to the Spike TV airwaves on Friday, this time with their middleweight title up for grabs. The card also features the return of their former bantamweight champion as well as standout NCAA wrestler-turned-fighter Darrion Caldwell in the toughest test of his career.

What: Bellator 137: Halsey vs. Grove

Where: Pechanga Resort and Casino, Temecula, California

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.

Brandon Halsey vs. Kendall Grove

One of the reasons I like Grove is for his never say die attitude. The other is because he's one of the lanky MMA fighters who has turned their guard into a weapon. It's not going to stop all opposition, but it's nice to see in this age of wrestle-boxing. That said, it's not going to be enough against Halsey, who is a force of nature in Bellator. I expect Halsey to score the takedown with ease and pass enough to land heavy damage on top. At this stage in Grove's career, his ability to sustain damage is not great. That's not the best recipe for success against a fighter as aggressive and proactive as Halsey.

Pick: Halsey

Eduardo Dantas vs. Mike Richman

If Dantas is to redeem himself after having his title taken by Joe Warren, it's not going to come easy. Richman has looked sensational since dropping to bantamweight. The American hasn't lost much speed and has retained all of his power. His cardio isn't amazing, but I wouldn't call it a liability either. The difference for me is the one-note nature of Richman's offense. It's highly potent, but largely a function of forward-pressure boxing. That's something the more natural and mobile Dantas is going to be able to work around. Dantas has excellent back takes, decent takedowns, but most importantly, is very quick. Richman is going to find the Brazilian is changing the range before he has a chance to react. That'll be his undoing in the end.

Pick: Dantas

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Curtis Millender

A bit of a tough call, but I'm going to side with Gonzalez here. He doesn't do much spectacularly and his record isn't exactly awesome, but he's morphed himself into a guy who can do enough of many different tasks to get him to the finish line. I especially like his gas tank, which keeps his output both consistent and potent through three rounds. I'm not saying he'll finish Millender, but he'll do enough to win two rounds on two judges' scorecards.

Pick: Gonzalez

Darrion Caldwell vs. Rafael Silva

This is a highly-intriguing bout. Silva is a credentialed, talented-in-all-facets kind of fighter, but has feasted on a lot of competition that's not up to snuff. He gave Warren a good back-and-forth, but lost that bout. Caldwell relies on his athleticism a lot, which could very well cost him against a fighter as athletic, technical and experienced as Silva. What the Brazilian might lack in wrestling and genetic make-up relative to Caldwell, he makes up for in savvy. That said, I think Caldwell's too much for him in the end. There might be a tense moment here or there, but I expect Caldwell to eventually overwhelm a very good fighter in Silva.

Pick: Caldwell

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