Bellator 57 Preview
After a week off, Bellator is back with two huge tournament final matches! And there’s certainly no better week for Bellator to make its return than the week of Pacquiao vs. Marquez and the first ever UFC event on Fox. Though the card is starting two hours earlier than normal, it still has some solid online fights from the UFC to contend with.
It’s disappointing that this card is up against such stiff competition since we have some interesting fights. The season five middleweight and welterweight tournaments will come to a close, while there’s an interesting light heavyweight battle and a number of solid lightweight contests. I know I’ll be watching and everyone else should try to check the fights out as well!
It’s important to note that this is Bellator’s first event under new ownership. Viacom just purchased Bellator Fighting Championships in a move that should position Bellator as a legitimate rival to the UFC, especially if the move to Spike comes to fruition. These next few years are going to be great for MMA with both the UFC and Bellator both making major strides.
Bellator 57 is live on MTV2 at 7:00 PM EST/6:00 PM CST with a replay at 11:00 PM EST/10:00 PM CST. The Spike.com prelims have been initially listed as starting at 5:00 PM EST/4:00 PM CST, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started sooner. Be sure to check Spike.com for more info.
Welterweight Tournament Finals: Ben Saunders (12-3-2) vs. Douglas Lima (20-4)
Here are two fighters that are both new to the Bellator title scene. Saunders and Lima would be interesting challenges for Askren, though I’m getting ahead of myself in discussing that fight. Saunders is a very dynamic and very exciting fighter who is very good at finishing fights. Lima, a former MFC Champion, also finishes his fights and knows how to put on a show himself.
This could be one of the best fights of the night, including the UFC fights. This will be a war from the opening bell and I see these men going all out. Because of this, I’m predicting an early stoppage victory for Ben Saunders. However long the fight goes, it will be interesting, but I think Saunders will take advantage of the initial frenzy by knocking Lima out.
Middleweight Tournament Finals: Alexander Shlemenko (42-7, No. 24 MW) vs. Vitor Vianna (12-1-1)
Alexander Shlemenko has solidified himself as one of the top middleweights in Bellator, but I really like what Vitor Vianna brings to the table. Vianna is super tough and his only loss came against Thiago Silva, where Vianna was stopped with an arm injury in November 2006. Both men have finished more than 75% of their wins, though I think Vianna is more balanced with solid striking and great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I don’t think Vianna will want to stand and strike with Shlemenko, as he’ll be at a bit of a disadvantage. If he can find a way to take Shlemenko down, he will win this fight. Period. Shlemenko’s only ground defense is to look at the referee and complain about the fight not being stood up. Vianna can keep this fight on the ground, so long as he brings the fight there to begin with.
I anticipate this being a tight contest, but ultimately, I think we’ll see Shlemenko pull off a close split decision victory. Shlemenko will be able to do enough to stay standing so he can assault Vianna with his impressive striking. A win from Vianna wouldn’t shock me, but I don’t think he’ll be able to pull it off.
Light Heavyweight: Roger Hollett (12-3) vs. John Hawk (6-3)
Talented Canadian Roger Hollett will make his Bellator debut against John Hawk, who defeated Allan Weickert for Bellator less than two months ago. I don’t feel particularly strongly about either fighter, though Hollett looks to have the stronger background. I’ll take Hollett by submission in this contest.
Lightweight: Alexandre Bezerra (11-1) vs. Doug Evans (13-9)
Doug Evans is good at two things: submitting fighters and losing. Evans has eight submission victories and nine losses, three losses coming each by submission, knockout, and decision. Bezerra has gone 3-0 in Bellator, finishing all three fights in extremely impressive fashion. I think we’ll see “Popo” Bezerra submit Evans in this one and hopefully, Bezerra will finally get a shot in a Bellator tournament.
Lightweight: Chris Horodecki (18-3) vs. Mike Corey (11-2)
I have a feeling we couldsee an upset in this contest. Corey is coming in to fight Horodecki on pretty short notice, since Ricardo Tirloni was forced to withdraw from this fight due to injury. I’m not at all a Horodecki fan as he’s always rubbed me the wrong way, though he is a very talented fighter.
Corey, a former IFL competitor like Horodecki, is a talented wrestler who has had some success with submissions in the past and I wonder if he’ll be able to control Horodecki enough to take the win? I see this fight going late and I think Horodecki will ultimately score the victory, but I think Corey could make it competitive.
Lightweight: Ashkar Morvari (12-4) vs. Dave Jansen (15-2)
Lightweight: Eric Moon (7-6, 1 NC) vs. Josh Shockley (7-1)
Light Heavyweight: Shawn Levesque (1-1) vs. Matt Van Buren (4-0)
Bantamweight: Chuck Mady (5-5) vs. Denis Puric (3-3)
Lightweight: Mike Sledzion (3-1) vs. Taylor Solomon (2-3)