After a week off, Bellator returns to action and Canada with a moderately significant main card tonight. The bright spots? Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler returns to action albeit in a non-title super fight. In addition, the Bellator season six welterweight tournament rolls on as Ben Saunders and Bryan Baker look to secure a spot in the finals. And Polish heavyweight Damian Grabowski returns to action against ShoXC veteran David Huckaba as well.
What: Bellator 67
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: Casino Rama, Rama, Ontario, Canada
Predictions below for the lightweight non-title main event, a welterweight tournament semi-final and two additional main card bouts.
Michael Chandler vs. Akihiro Gono
This is a non-title bout, but it wouldn't matter. It is extremely improbable (though not impossible) Gono will do anything to Chandler except get dummied. Gono was once a good middleweight, a decent welterweight, but is now only a barely servicable lightweight. It's MMA, so it's impossible to rule anything out. Gono, if nothing else, has tremendous experience both in volume and character. But he's lost his last two (in two different weight classes), is 37 years of age and is incontestably shopworn.
Saunders is a talented welterweight and has the sort of style to give Baker problems. He isn't as athletic or strong as Baker, but has crisper technique and is offensively aggressive. Even when pushed into defensive maneuvering, Saunders typically does enough to avoid serious damage while posing threats of his own. Baker has a ton of potential, but often lacks focus and can be sloppy. Against Saunders, he's likely to pay for it.
Odds makers have Ford as the slight underdog, but it's hard for me to have a ton of faith in Santos. Yes, he's vastly more experienced. Yes, he's got more offensive tools than Ford. But I do wonder if Ford's wrestling could trip Santos up, figuratively and literally. I'll go with Santos here very reluctantly. Neither fighter is going to set the world on fire with a win here, but the odds on this one are close for a reason.
Damian Grabowski vs. Dave Huckaba
Not the most amazing fight ever. It's also one Grabowski should never lose. Huckaba is a journeyman who has spent a considerable amount of time on the Gladiator Challenge circuit. He's 37 and his last relevant win (if such a thing can be said) came over Ruben Villareal. Grabowski has more than enough submission skills to put Huckaba away early.