While last weeks Light Heavyweight tournament was painful, this weeks Heavyweight masquerade at Bellator 111 has potential to put a whole nation to sleep. On the bright side, we have a Bantamweight title fight, with blazing fast striker Eduardo Dantas facing sub grappler Anthony Leone.
Let’s take a look at Bellator 111.
Eduardo Dantas vs Anthony Leone: On the shelf due to injury for over a year, Eduardo Dantas will look to defend his hard-won strap, taking on US fighter Anthony Leone. Dantas is a sharp puncher and grappler, operating in similar fashion to a smaller Erick Silva; offense being his best defense. Leone has been under the radar for years now, but has done well for himself as a Bantamweight, using his slick grappling and aggressive boxing style to fluster and finish opponents.
This isn’t an easy fight for Dantas with so much time off, as Leone is a pressure fighter that can tap a foes gas tank early. What Dantas has that Leone doesn’t however is supreme accuracy in a running fight and true one-shot power to put him away. Don’t count Leone out of this one, but a healthy Dantas should have no problem lacing Leone as he comes forward, putting the American to sleep in the first.
Lavar Johnson vs Ryan Martinez: A former SF and UFC slugger, Lavar Johnson will look to make an impression in his HW tourney run, taking on home-grown fighter Ryan Martinez. Martinez is a rare athletic heavyweight having great movement, strike output and a build that favors an anti-wrestling game plan. Johnson couldn’t even spell wrestling though, so we run into an issue of Martinez playing a game of cat and mouse with the wrong guy. Any heavyweight fight is close, but I favor Johnson to club Martinez here and put him on ice inside the first minute of the fight.
Peter Graham vs Mighty Mo: A kickboxing legends match inside MMA, Peter Graham will look to take it to Mighty Mo. Graham has shown some decent grit thus far in his renewed MMA career, but his cardio and movement just aren’t there anymore, making him deadly early and immobile late. Color me surprised, but Mo actually looks better today than he did in his prime, having learned to use his legs for something other than planting to throw punches, and his actual grappling is functional as well. I see this playing out on the feet and have to give Mo the nod in terms of durability and endurance, taking this fight via decision.
Alexander Volkov vs Mark Holata: Former Bellator champ Alexander Volkov will look to work his way through the tournament for a rematch, taking on journeyman fighter Mark Holata. Volkov is one of the few heavyweights on the roster that’s actually functional as a fighter, using a technical striking game that accentuates his height and reach, with a fair amount of power as well. Holata in a ham bone, being five inches shorter, giving away ten inches of reach, yet weighing thirty pounds more. Holata just doesn’t have any weapons to deal with Volkov, who should put his fist into Holata’s face consistently until he forces a stoppage in the second round.
Blagoi Ivanov vs Rich Hale: The most competitive fight somehow finds itself on the undercard, as Blagoi Ivanov faces Rich Hale. Ivanov is an undefeated fighter who has faced no real competition thus far, but has the sambo credentials to imply he can go far in his tournament. Opposite Ivanov is Hale, a former Light Heavyweight who liked the look of the HW roster and has done well for himself in the tournament format. I like Hale’s use of movement, as well as his power striking, but don’t see him being able to keep Ivanov from rag dolling the lanky heavyweight and locking up a submission, though Hale does have the power to score that upset win.