Friday, November 16, 2012

Bellator 81 preview: The event that time forgot

At some point, Bellator is going to need to figure out a way to make their cards notable on weekends when major UFC fights are happening.

I think their TV contract is the only thing really helping them make money on these, and I don't think the fan base expands much in these circumstances.

But, nonetheless, Bellator has an event this week and it's the last round of semifinals before the tournament championship rounds starting in two weeks.

So who do we have in each lightweight semifinal match? Marcin Held fights Rich Clementi, and Dave Jansen fights Ricardo Tirloni.

Let's start with the first fight: It's old lion against young lion. I can barely remember those days in which the 35-year-old Clementi was fighting in the UFC, and his opponent is an emerging star who has been shown to be a dominant ground fighter but not much else.

I really want to give Held the edge because of his ground game, but I'm going with Clementi by decision because as a veteran, he should know how to keep the fight standing and test Held's chin.

In the other bout, Tirloni is in a very similar situation. He proved in last year's tournament that he's vulnerable to a knockout despite an excellent ground game, and Jansen has been involved in the WEC, albeit losing his last two fights to end up not receiving a contract at the merger.

But Jansen seems to have refocused, so I say that he has a chance. The difference is that he personally struggles with non-ground match-ups and he's nowhere near as good as Tirloni.

As such, I'll give Tirloni the upset through Round 2 submission.

Rest of the main card

Featherweight Bout: Marlon Sandro v. Dustin Neace - Very clear squash match here. Sandro via KO 1.

Middleweight Bout: Jonas Billstein v. Perry Filkins - Two guys I've really never seen. Filkins trains in Pat Miletich's camp, but hasn't won by a non-knockout, leading me to think he's limited. Billstein has a little of everything, so I'll give him the edge in a submission round 1 victory.

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