Bellator 59 Preview
Bellator wraps up their fifth season tonight with what will be their final event of 2011. And while they’ll have a hard time topping last week’s amazing event, it looks like we’ll see a really good card to end the season.
We’ll see two tournament final contests where the next contenders at heavyweight and bantamweight will be determined. Thiago Santos vs. Eric Prindle will compete for a shot at Heavyweight Champion Cole Konrad, while we’ll see an exciting bout between Alexis Vila and Eduardo Dantas for a chance to take on Bantamweight Champion Zach Makovsky.
The remaining televised card looks pretty interesting with two lightweight contests. Kurt Pellegrino makes his debut with Bellator when he takes on Patricky Freire. The two men had to be pulled apart at the weigh ins yesterday, so this could be a heated contest. We’ll also see former UFC prospect Phillipe Nover take on Marcin Held. The winner of both of these fights will likely get spots in next season’s lightweight tournament.
Bellator 59 will air live on MTV2 at 9:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST with a replay shown at 11:30 PM EST/10:30 PM CST. The Spike.com preliminary fights will also begin at 7:00 PM EST/6:00 PM CST. MTV2 also has a block scheduled between the replays to show some kind of Bellator highlights and I’m not sure what that will consist of. It might just be 30 minutes of sweet submissions presented as soft porn, who knows?
Heavyweight Tournament Finals: Thiago Santos (10-1) vs. Eric Prindle (9-1)
The winner of this contest will be the number one contender to Cole Konrad’s “King of the Fat Boys” title. I’m kinda coming around on this group. They put on generally exciting fights and I’m even being followed on Twitter by Ron Sparks. I almost hate calling Bellator heavyweights “fat boys”, but…well, they are pretty fat.
So here we have Eric Prindle, who loves knocking people out, against a good submission artist in Thiago Santos. I don’t see this fight going a full three rounds, so the question is what is more likely: a Prindle knockout or a Santos submission?
I’m of the opinion that Santos will be victorious in this one. I think he’ll be able to bring Prindle down early and tap him out. That he defeated Neil Grove in the tournament semifinals is impressive, since Grove is a very good fighter. Prindle is extremely one dimensional and I have a hard time seeing him taking out Santos in this one.
Bantamweight Tournament Finals: Alexis Vila (11-0, No. 8 BW, No. 8 FLW) Eduardo Dantas (12-2)
I’ve been on the Alexis Vila bandwagon since day one. I’m a huge flyweight supporter and I expected big things from one of the top fighters at 125 pounds in this tournament. Vila has lived up to the hype, notably by taking a brutal KO win over Featherweight Champion Joe Warren.
But Eduardo Dantas has come into this tournament and has been impressive himself. He defeated Ed West and Wilson Reis, two Bellator mainstays, in order to advance to this point. His only real loss came against Masakatsu Ueda in July 2009 and Dantas has quickly emerged as a top fighter at 135 pounds.
Vila has been my favorite since day one and I’m going to stick with that, but I think Dantas can push this fight to a close decision. Alexis Vila has the skills to end a fight in a split second, but he has more than enough wrestling to control and grind out fights. We’ll probably see a little bit of both here, Dantas being a capable striker and ground fighter as well. Vila should take a decision and will be a huge challenge to reigning champion Zach Makovsky.
Lightweight: Kurt Pellegrino (16-6, No. 19 LW) vs. Patricky Freire (9-2)
I see this fight a lot like I see the heavyweight tournament finals, except these guys weigh 110 pounds less than either of the heavyweight contenders. Pellegrino is one of the better grapplers at 155 pounds, while Patricky Freire has some great power.
We know that Pellegrino can hang with some of the better fighters at lightweight based on his time in the UFC. Patricky “Pitbull” has only lost twice in his career: to another Freire in Willamy and the new Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. Freire’s knockout wins over Toby Imada and “Razor” Rob McCullough were absolutely fantastic and showed that this kid can knockout some of the best.
But Pellegrino is a veteran who has never been knocked out. While he’s lost to more of the big name fighters at 155 pounds, he does hold victories over Rob Emerson, Josh Neer, and Junior Assuncao amongst many other good fighters. He’s a two time Submission of the Night winner and one time Fight of the Night winner in the UFC so this is another guy who can put on exciting fights.
I think Pellegrino will ultimately come out on top here. I see him controlling the majority of the fight and taking a decision win over Patricky, but the Pitbull can end this fight at any time. I think Pellegrino has the pedigree to be victorious here, but expect anything in what should be a heated affair.
Lightweight: Phillipe Nover (6-3-1) vs. Marcin Held (11-2)
Dana White held former UFC prospect Phillipe Nover in high regard, calling him the next George St-Pierre or Anderson Silva. Then Nover lost to Efrain Escudero, Kyle Bradley, and Rob Emerson before being cut from the promotion. Maybe he’ll be the next Jon Koppenhaver instead!
As for Marcin Held, you might remember him from a prompt submission loss to Michael Chandler in the opening round of Bellator’s last lightweight tournament. Held will look to be successful in his first Bellator fight since that loss.
I think we’ll see most of this fight contested on the ground and going in Nover’s favor. Held is a very good fighter, but I’m hopeful that Nover is getting back on track after a rough UFC run. The guy was way over-hyped, but he’s still a talented prospect with a lot of upside. I think he’ll take a surprising win in this contest.
Catchweight (175 lbs.): Karl Amoussou (12-4-2) vs. Jesus Martinez (6-1)
Welterweight: LeVon Maynard (11-8) vs. Christopher Wing (3-1)
Featherweight: Brylan Van Artsdalen (5-2) vs. Scott Heckman (8-3)
Middleweight: Gregory Milliard (1-2) vs. Brandon Saling (6-4)
Catchweight (175 lbs.): Lucas Pimenta (4-0) vs. Doug Gordon (11-10)