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Bellator 35 Preview

Bellator 35 will be a night of new beginnings for the promotion.  This will be the debut of Bellator on MTV2, as well as the first card of the season.  The Welterweight Tournament will be featured tonight, while 115 lbs. Champion Zoila Frausto will compete in a non-title fight.

Tonight is a heavy night for competition, as Strikeforce is airing their slate of fights on Showtime.  Note that the preview for tonight’s Strikeforce card will follow sometime later today.  Fight results for both cards will follow sometime tomorrow.

Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Jay Hieron (19-4, No. 15 WW) vs. Anthony Lapsley (19-4, 2 NC)

Hieron is likely the favorite to win this tournament, as he’s one of the top welterweights not currently in the UFC.  He’s coming off wins against former UFC fighters Joe Riggs, Jesse Taylor, and Jason High.  Lapsley, a former King of the Cage Welterweight Champion, has very few name wins aside from a 2007 victory over fellow tournament competitor Brent Weedman.

Hieron is a fairly well-rounded fighter, though he’s shown good knockout power in the past.  His wrestling is definitely one of the stronger parts of his game and he does a good job dictating the pace of fights.  He really belongs in the UFC but has had bad luck.  His first UFC fight was a loss against Georges St-Pierre, while his second UFC fight was a loss to Jonathan Goulet due to doctor’s stoppage.

Lapsley has good submissions and also has a wrestling background, but Hieron is a far more skilled fighter.  I just don’t think that Lapsley will be able to keep up with Hieron in this fight.  This fight will spend a lot of time on the mat and I see Hieron earning the victory here.

Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Lyman Good (10-1) vs. Chris Lozano (6-0)

Chris Lozano is still fairly inexperienced, but he’s had a nice professional career thus far.  Of his six wins, two come against former UFC fighters Lyman Good and Yoshiuki Yoshida.  That said, Lyman Good will still be the favorite here.  The former Bellator champion will look to win this tournament and get his rematch against Ben Askren.

This should be an interesting fight, as Lozano might have the skills to defeat Good.  Lozano has very good knockout power and has a good wrestling background, while Good isn’t that much more experienced than his opponent.  Good has a ton of trouble with Ben Askren’s wrestling, though it would be unfair to compare Lozano’s skills to Aksren’s.

Still, I think Lozano is going to be able to pull off this win.  His striking is good enough to stay competitive, while he may be able to control the fight with his wrestling.  Lozano has shown more of a tendency to keep his fights standing, so I’m anxious to see how much of his wrestling he’s willing to show off.  I think Lozano will be able to get the decision victory, but Good will definitely keep this competitive.  If his history against wrestlers is to be trusted, then Lyman Good might have a rough night ahead of him.

Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Dan Hornbuckle (22-3, No. 23 WW) vs. Brent Weedman (17-5-1)

Dan Hornbuckle is another favorite to win this tournament.  He was a finalist in last year’s Welterweight tournament, losing to eventual Bellator Champion Ben Askren.  Weedman has been on a pretty nice winning streak lately, but has previously lost to Hornbuckle.

Hornbuckle has very good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has big wins in his career over Nick Thompson and Akihiro Gono.  Hornbuckle will be looking for submissions, but has previously shown good striking.  Weedman doesn’t have the track record of Hornbuckle, and really, he can’t match the skills of Hornbuckle either.

As an American Top Team product, you can be sure that Dan Hornbuckle is going to be a tough guy to knock out of this tournament.  Weedman is the kind of fighter who does a little bit of everything, but none of those things are exceptionally strong.  Weedman has good striking and can hold his own on the mat, but I think that Hornbuckle can take anything Weedman will throw at him.  I think Hornbuckle will get the submission victory and move on to the semifinals.

Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Rick Hawn (9-0) vs. Jim Wallhead (21-5)

These two judo black belts will square off in the fourth quarterfinal match.  Hawn is actually a more accomplished judo practitioner, having reached the quarterfinal stage of the 2004 Olympics in the 81 kilogram weight class.  Wallhead, though, is the more experienced MMA fighter and is on an eight fight winning streak.

Wallhead will likely be the favorite here, as his experience might play a factor.  Wallhead trains out of Team Rough House, which is only second to Wolfslair in British MMA.  Wallhead has shown a well-rounded game, knocking out and submitting fighters with similar regularity.  Hawn has proven to be more of a striker, as his kickboxing has been very good.  Hawn is one of the few fighters who has been able to stop the very tough Shonie Carter.

I think this fight can go either way, as Hawn has shown some promise in his early MMA career.  I think this fight will go to a decision with Wallhead as the victor, though Hawn’s excellent judo might be enough for him to take this fight.  A win by Hawn wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m leaning toward Wallhead here.

Women’s Featherweight: Zoila Frausto (10-1, No. 1 WFW) vs. Karina Hallinan (3-4)

Zoila Frausto won’t be defending her 115 lbs. Title in this fight, but I don’t know that it’s going to make a difference.  Frausto and Hallinan actually fought in what was the first professional fight for both women.  Frausto took the decision over Hallinan back in February of 2009.

Since then, Frausto has proven to be a very tough and very talented fighter, defeating top ranked fighters like Megumi Fujii and Rosi Sexton.  Hallinan has been struggling a bit more to find her way, but she kept extremely active in 2010.  Hallinan hasn’t shown enough to be considered a title contender, so I worry that this will be a fairly one-sided contest.  Frausto should easily get the win and I look forward to seeing the “warrior princess” defend her title sometime in 2011.

Catchweight (176 lbs.): Waachiim Spiritwolf (8-7-1, 1 NC) vs. Jaime Jara (29-8, 1 NC)

I’ll just do a quick preview for this fight, since Jara and Spiritwolf are fairly well known fighters.  Spiritwolf will spend most of this fight trying to punch Jaime Jara very hard.  Jara has some submission skills, but will likely be glad to return fire with Spiritwolf.

I think Jara might be the favorite here, but there’s only one guarantee in this fight: someone is going to get punched in the head, and possibly with great frequency.

Featherweight: Josh Herrick (6-1) vs. Brandon Bender (7-0)

Bantamweight: Jesus Castro (0-1) vs. Paul Ruiz (0-0)

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