MMA's number two promotion rolls on with its sixth season and returns to the East Coast with tonight's fights from Atlantic City. In main event action, Daniel Straus will face Marlon Sandro in the featherweight tournament final while Travis Marx and Marcos Galvao battle in semi-final bantamweight action. In a 230 lbs-catchweight bout, UFC veterans Carmelo Marrero and Seth Petruzelli square off. Lastly, but certainly not least, Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf will finally rematch after their ill-fated 2010 Strikeforce Challengers bout that ended in a no contest.
What: Bellator 68
When: Friday, the MTV2-televised card begins at 8 p.m. Eastern on Friday. However, Spike.com will carry the entire fight card beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Where: Caeser's Atlantic City, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Predictions below for the featherweight tournament final, a bantamweight tournament semi-final and two additional main card bouts.
Daniel Straus vs. Marlon Sandro
I like Straus a lot. He's a sensational athlete, a very proficient striker, a talented wrestler and packs a serious punch. He's technically cleaner on the feet than Sandro, although the Brazilian has the edge if and when the fight hits the mat. My problem, though, is with Straus' finishing. The longer fights go, the more he tends to fight on auto-pilot. His killer instinct is good, but he hasn't quite mastered the art of finishing at this level of the game. Straus is a handful in the first round and that's where this fight will be close, but beyond that it quickly becomes Sandro's to lose.
I don't agree with the oddsmakers here. They've got Galvao as the pretty significant favorite and while I agree he deserves to be the odds-on choice as the guy to beat, it's not as much of a disparity as they suggest. It is very, very possible Marx can win the takedown battle and avoid submissions on top. It won't be a pretty win if he does, but it'll be a win. Galvao's takedown defense is not the best, but he's obviously formidable on the ground. But can he really win a bout from his back? I don't think so. Galvao is incredibly talented, so if you've picked him to win I have positively zero issue with it. But given Galvao's particular weakness, Marx might just have enough to steal a round or two.
Carmelo Marrero vs. Seth Petruzelli
This one is difficult to forecast. Petruzelli and Marerro are basically at the same points in their careers. The liabilities that cost them at the UFC level are now permanent fixtures of their games. That's why I'm going to side with Marerro. I'm not overly confident about it, but takedown defense and getting up off the bottom (not to mention guard play) has never been a strong suit of the Florida native. Marerro doesn't have much to offer beyond that at the professional level, but it might just be enough. Or maybe not. I can't really be confident about it.
Marius Zaromskis vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf
Neither fighter is much to write home about anymore, but there's seemingly a lot left in Zaromskis' tank. Then again, with his wild, aggressive and often reckless style, he can lose at any point. Sure, he'll land a rolling axe kick every now and again, but the word 'defense' just never meant that much to him. He's technically got more polished skills than Spiritwolf, so that should be enough to win in what I expect to be a rather remarkable car crash.