Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bellator 85 preview: LIVE on Spike

It only seems fitting that as one company finally caves in on itself (Strikeforce), another steps in to become a legitimate No. 2.

That is what the MMA community now has in Bellator Fighting Championships, which this year will also be referred to as BFC for the sake of  space. BFC begins their tenure on Spike TV a mere 17 days after their archive contract with UFC finally ran out.

Spike is going all-out with this too. They've already aired a special going through the top lightweights in the division; they have planned to do a reality show similar to their old "The Ultimate Fighter" programming; and they now will be airing all the BFC cards.

Seriously, TNA Wrestling and Bellator should be proud to be part of a network that very clearly will go all-in for them, and here's to their continued gradual climb to success.

Being owned by Viacom is also going to help Bellator in the free agent market. As most know by now, Eddie Alvarez is in the matching period for his free agency, and as UFC President Dana White predicted, this is getting ugly.

BFC claims they matched the deal, literally just replacing UFC's name with their own in the contract, and that Alvarez must sign. Alvarez, however, claims that is not the case, as UFC guaranteed him a title shot to debut and a cut of pay-per-view revenue.

If that's the case, Bellator may have some trouble here. They don't have PPV and though they now have immediate rematch clauses for champions, Alvarez's deal required him to go through the tournament again. Unless, BFC anticipated that problem and said that those kinds of clauses could be ignored,  BFC CEO Bjorn Rebney and Alvarez will have a court date to sort this out.

Anyway, on to the card tonight. There are two title matches, the main event being BFC Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler (who beat Alvarez to win the belt) facing the most recent lightweight tournament winner, Rick Hawn.

I am actually really excited for this one. I have been impressed with Chandler since he won the lightweight tournament that earned him his shot, and I've been a fan of Hawn since he was on a role in the welterweight tournaments a year ago.

Chandler is a Division I wrestler with a reasonably strong game everywhere else. He sits at a perfect 10-0 in his career.

Hawn's only loss came in the welterweight tournament final to Jay Hieron, who now fights in the UFC. His game is somewhat more complete, with a background in boxing, BJJ and judo.

Honestly, although I love Michael Chandler, Hawn has just looked like a force since moving down in weight. I'm going to say that the winner and NEW BFC Lightweight Champion will be Hawn by decision.

The featherweight title will be on the line as well as champion Pat Curran faces Patricio Freire. 

Curran won the belt by tearing through the 2012 Summer Series tournament and then taking out Joe Warren for the belt. This being the champ's first defense of the belt, I'm not doubting his motivation.

Freire should be ready as well, winning his tournament this past fall. He has a BJJ background but showed in the early rounds of the last tournament that he has knockout power.

Much like Hawn, Curran proved to be a force in a higher weight class before this. He earned a title shot before losing to Alvarez in his only BFC loss.

I tend to take guys who are proving to be building off their success, which is the case with Curran. I say he retains by KO 3.

Rest of the Main Card/Light Heavyweight Quarterfinals (Two Quarters are in the prelims)

Renato "Babalu" Sobral v. Makhail Zayats - Babalu has experience everywhere, and I can't see him losing in the opening bout. I'll take Babalu by KO 2.

Seth Petruzelli v. Jacob Noe - Haven't seen much of Noe, but we all know Petruzelli as the former UFC guy who beat Kimbo Slice. I'll take Seth by decision.

Emanuel Newton v. Atanas Djambazov - Really wish I knew more about these guys, but I guess that's why they're on the prelims. Newton's resume seems a little more decorated, so I'll take the Hardcore Kid by submission in Round 2.

The final Quarterfinal is next week and features King Mo, so be ready for that next week!

Also I'll be keeping my record up each week from now on. Here's my 2013 pick campaign stats:
4-1 (0-0 UFC)

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