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Bellator 46 Preview

Bellator is returning to the air waves with the first installment of the promotion’s summer series.  Only three shows will air from June to August, with the final event culminating in the finals of the summer series featherweight tournament.  Marlon Sandro, Pat Curran, and Ronnie Mann have to be the favorites going into the tournament, though it will be hard for any of other seven fighters to knock off the Pancrase and Sengoku veteran Sandro.

There are some fairly interesting preliminary fights, as prospects Tony Johnson Jr. and Alexandre Bezerra will both be in action.  A great 115 pound women’s fight will also be taking place as Jessica Aguilar will fight Carla Esparza.  I’m hoping this fight is somehow aired between tournament fights if time allows it.

Bellator 46 will be live tonight on MTV2 at 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST with a replay shown immediately after the live airing.

Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Marlon Sandro (17-2, No. 5 FEW) vs. Genair da Silva (10-3)

Sandro: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with very good striking, seven career (T)KO victories with only three career submission wins, trains out of Nova Uniao, lost his Sengoku Featherweight Title to Hatsu Hioki in his previous fight, only career losses to Hioki and Michihiro Omigawa, making his Bellator debut.

Da Silva: Heavy handed striker with very good kickboxing, has six career (T)KO victories, has won five consecutive fights going back to December 2009, also making his Bellator debut.

Remarks: Poor, poor Genair da Silva.  A very talented Brazilian prospect finally gets his shot in a major promotion, only to be seeded against a top five featherweight in his Bellator debut.  I’m hopeful that da Silva’s time with the promotion goes beyond just this tournament appearance because I don’t think he has much of a chance to advance.  Marlon Sandro is one of the best 145 pound fighters in the world and is perhaps one of the best fighters in Bellator period.  Marlon Sandro has a vast experience edge and is a far more talented fighter than da Silva.  I think we’ll see him pull off a submission victory in this fight.

Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Pat Curran (13-4) vs. Luis Palomino (16-6)

Curran: Former high school wrestler with BJJ and boxing experience, has never been knocked out in his career, won Bellator’s season three lightweight tournament by defeating Mike Ricci, Roger Huerta, and Toby Imada, lost his title contest against Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 39.

Palomino: Good striker with eight career (T)KO wins, lost in the opening round of Bellator’s inaugural featherweight tournament against Estevan Payan, 6-1 in his last seven fights with the sole loss to Yves Edwards, has key victories over Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dias, nicknamed “Baboon.”

Remarks: I’m really torn about this fight, which is probably the most evenly matched of the opening round.  Palomino has mixed results against wrestlers before, losing to Jonathan Brookins in 2009 and defeating Daron Cruickshank earlier in 2011.  Pat Curran has also had luck against heavy handed fighters, defeating Roger Huerta in the 2010 lightweight tournament semifinals.  Unless Palomino has all of a sudden gained Eddie Alvarez type boxing skills, I’m not sure he’ll be able to win this fight.  I think we’ll see Curran take a decision as he looks for his second Bellator tournament crown.

Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Ronnie Mann (19-2-1) vs. Adam Schindler (9-1)

Mann: BJJ brown belt with good wrestling, also has boxing and Muay Thai skills, holds an awesome 11 submission wins in his career, has won each of his last three fights by decision, 9-1 in his last ten fights with the sole loss to Hatsu Hioki, defeated Josh Arocho in his promotional debut at Bellator 42,

Schindler: High school state champion wrestler with solid BJJ, has six career submission victories, has never won a fight via knockout, defeated Brian Melancon in his Bellator debut at Bellator 20, also won a preliminary fight against Kierre Gooch at Strikeforce Houston.

Remarks: I see this fight going a lot like Mann’s Bellator debut with the Brit using strong and smothering wrestling to control the duration of this fight.  Schindler has very good wrestling, but Mann’s wrestling is more effective in MMA.  Josh Arocho has similar wrestling credentials to Schindler as a two time state runner-up in wrestling.  Schindler also lacks Mann’s striking abilities and is at a decided disadvantage in this fight.  Mann should take a fairly lopsided decision in this fight and move on in the tournament.

Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinals: Nazareno Malegarie (19-1) vs. Jacob Devree (10-1)

Malegarie: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with 12 career submission wins, lost to Daniel Straus by unanimous decision in his Bellator debut, holds a knockout win over Shooto Brazil and K-1 kickboxing veteran Vitor Miranda.

Devree: Balanced fighter with three career (T)KO wins and four career submission victories, has gone 7-0 dating back to January 2009, Rage in the Cage Lightweight Champion, making his Bellator debut.

Remarks: There’s not a lot of information out there about either of these fighters.  Malegarie may have lost to Daniel Straus in the season four featherweight tournament, but it was a closely contested fight between two talented 145 pound fighters.  Malegarie is still a talented prospect with a bright future and I see him scoring the submission victory over Devree and advancing to the featherweight tournament semifinals.

Women’s Featherweight: Jessica Aguilar (10-4, No. 6 WFW) vs. Carla Esparza (5-1, No. 9 WLW)

Aguilar: Submission specialist who trains out of American Top Team, holds seven career submission victories, has won five of her last six fights with the sole loss to Bellator 115 pound Champion Zoila Frausto-Gurgel, holds key victories over Angela Magana and Valerie Coolbaugh, last defeated Elsie Henri by armbar in November 2010.

Esparza: Two time All-American wrestler who has developed her submission skills, three of her five career wins have come by submission, her biggest career win was over Lacey Schuckman in July 2010, lost to Megumi Fujii in her Bellator debut last August.

Remarks: I really like this match and I think we’re going to see a grappling war in this one.  Both of these fighters are very tough submission fighters, though I think Jessica Aguilar has the edge.  She’s never been finished in her career, let alone submitted, and has more significant experience dating back to 2006.  Carla Esparza is going to be a big name in MMA, but I don’t think it will be at Aguilar’s expense.  Esparza is still very new to MMA, having made her debut in February 2010.  She’s fought impressively at such an early point in her career, but I think she’ll be submitted by Aguilar in this contest.

Middleweight: Josh Samman (8-1) vs. Dan Cramer (6-2)

Heavyweight: Tony Johnson Jr. (5-1) vs. Derrick Lewis (4-1)

Middleweight: Moyses Gabin (5-4) vs. David Baggett (6-6)

Catchweight (152 lbs.): Sam Jones (2-0) vs. Alexandre Bezerra (8-1)

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