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Bellator 39 Preview

With all quarterfinal bouts complete, we’re going to start seeing more of Bellator’s stars in some individual bouts.  We’ll see the first of many tonight as top lightweight Eddie Alvarez defends his title against tournament winner Pat Curran.

Two semifinal bouts will also take place tonight, with the welterweight and lightweight tournament pictures becoming clearer.  UFC veteran Ben Saunders will also be making his Bellator debut.

Catch Bellator tonight on MTV2 at 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST.  Standard definition only, boo!!

Lightweight Title: (c) Eddie Alvarez (21-2, No. 5 LW) vs. Pat Curran (13-3)

Alvarez: Good wrestler with great submission and knockout power, 6-0 in MMA since debuting with Bellator at its first event, season 1 Lightweight Tournament Champion, only two losses to Shinya Aoki and Nick Thompson, key wins over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen, and Roger Huerta.

Curran: Also a skilled wrestler with BJJ and boxing experience, controversially defeated Toby Imada to win the second Bellator Lightweight Tournament, trains with his cousin Jeff at their gym in Crystal Lake, Illinois, six of his 13 wins come by way of decision.

Remarks: Eddie Alvarez has proven himself as one of the premier lightweights in the world of MMA.  I like Pat Curran and I think they do good things with Team Curran as a whole, and I think he’ll be a very capable challenger against Alvarez.  That said, I don’t know that Curran is nearly as skilled as Alvarez.  This fight will likely go to a decision and I think the champion will retain his title.

Welterweight Tournament Semifinals: Lyman Good (11-1) vs. Rick Hawn (10-0)

Good: Defeated Chris Lozano in a tough fight to advance to these semifinals, former Bellator Welterweight Champion, has a last name very susceptible to puns.

Hawn: Olympic caliber judo practitioner, used crisp striking to defeat fellow judoka Jim Wallhead, seven of his ten wins have come by KO or TKO.

Remarks: I’m very much looking forward to this fight and have a hard time picking a winner.  Lyman Good is the former champ and has to be the favorite.  I liked what I saw from Hawn in his last appearance and he barely used any of his stellar judo.  I’m going to take Hawn for the upset, as he’s shown tremendous punching in the past and has the grappling to complement that.  Good is a tough fighter and good striker himself, but Hawn is a bit too skilled for Good.

Lightweight Tournament Semifinals: Patricky Freire (8-1) vs. Toby Imada (29-15)

Freire: BJJ black belt, trains with Team Nogueira, defeated “Razor” Rob McCullough to advance to the semifinals, looked extremely sharp in all aspects against the veteran McCullough.

Imada: Judo black belt, has been with Bellator since day one, 5-2 in his Bellator career, two time Bellator Lightweight Tournament finalist, 2010 Shoot Boxing World Tournament Runner-up, defeated Josh Shockley in the tournament quarterfinals, at one point lost five consecutive fights which included losses to Joe Stevenson, Jason Miller, and Antonio McKee.

Remarks: Taking a closer look at Imada, it’s amazing that he’s looking for his third appearance in the lightweight tournament finals.  He lost in he finals to Eddie Alvarez and Pat Curran in consecutive years and faces a very tough challenge in Patricky Freire.  Freire looked very dangerous against a tough veteran like Rob McCullough, while Imada’s win over Shockley wasn’t exactly a surprise.  I think we’ll see an exciting fight, but I’ll give the edge to Freire.  He has the BJJ to control this fight and he looked too good in his last Bellator appearance.

Catchweight (175 lbs.): Ben Saunders (9-3-2) vs. Matt Lee (13-9-1)

Saunders: BJJ brown belt, trains with American Top Team, very good Muay Thai, 2-3 in his last five fights with losses in the UFC to Dennis Hallman, Jon Fitch, and Mike Swick, has a victory over Marcus Davis, coming off a November win for World Extreme Fighting against Elijah Harshbarger, Bellator debut.

Lee: Good striker, has competed in Pancrase, Bodog, and Strikeforce, has notable losses to Jorge Masvidal and Eddie Alvarez, lost to Ryan Quinn in his April 2010 Bellator debut, last defeated Brett Oteri for Moosin in May 2010

Remarks: Saunders is the more pedigreed fighter, going 4-3 in his three year UFC career.  Lee has faced some top fighters, but hasn’t really displayed the skills necessary to compete at a higher level.  I like Saunders by submission in this fight.

Lightweight: Dave Jansen (14-2) vs. Scott McAfee (9-2)

Middleweight: Dan Cramer (5-2) vs. Greg Rebello (12-2)

Lightweight: Matt Veach (15-3) vs. Ryan Nazare (6-0)

Welterweight: Ryan Quinn (4-2) vs. Mike Winters (4-0)

Bantamweight: John McLaughlin (3-0) vs. Blair Tugman (5-3)

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