The Juggernaut MMA News Report 10.10.13: Bellator 103 Preview
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 10.10.2013
Pitbull Friere continues his quest toward gaining Bellator gold at Bellator 103! 411's Jonathan Solomon breaks down the card and tells you all you need to know! Plus news and thoughts on Jones vs. Teixeira getting delayed and more!
Bellator 103 Preview
With just three shows left before the first ever Bellator pay-per-view on November 2nd, it may seem like season nine is slowing to a crawl, but the opposite is more the case.
Bellator 103 is set for tomorrow night, from the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane (yes, the city has just over 6,000 residents…) with one tournament continuing, and a pair of other bouts thrown in. It seems like that's the case, at least.
The tournament mentioned is the season nine featherweight class with two Brazilians, an American and a Guamanian duking it out for the $100,000 prize and a guaranteed title fight. Aside from those two bouts, lightweight Dave Rickels returns to action for the first time since being run over by champ Michael Chandler and there's also light heavyweight action involving Mikhail Zayats. Below is a look at all these fights, getting you up to date on everyone and what you need to know before watching the show over the weekend.
Patricio "Pitbull" Freire vs. Fabricio Guerreiro
Justin Wilcox vs. Joe Taimanglo
If there's one fight you look at among this group and think of as the main event, it's the Pitbull-Guerreiro match-up.
Freire has been a one-man wrecking crew for essentially his entire professional career, whether he lost two split decisions in Bellator or not. Since he lost to champion Pat Curran in January, he was eager to get back in the mix and he has finished both of his opponents over the summer, Jared Downing (by second round TKO) and in the quarterfinal, Diego Nunes (first round knockout). Behind Curran, you can debate who the second best non-UFC featherweight is, whether it's Bibiano Fernandes or Pitbull and I wouldn't be so sure to bet against the latter Brazilian.
The 26-year-old Freire has a 5'4 frame but he packs power in his technically-sound boxing. We rarely get to see him display his grappling game but that's not without reason for the the BJJ black belt: who wants to test him there?
Enter Fabricio Guerreiro. The 23-year-old Brazilian was named by BloodyElbow as the best world prospect in the lightweight division in 2012. As a featherweight, he debuted in the United States in February and was choked out by Frodo Khasbulaev. But the 19-2 (1 NC) fighter bounced back with a win in Brazil in June and returned to Bellator last month to defeat Desmond Green to advance to this fight.
He will boast a six-inch height advantage and he will need to use the assumed reach advantage to keep Pitbull from hurting him with power shots. Whether either man will look for takedowns or sweeps to go for submissions is anyone's guess, but on the feet, look for Freire to push the pace and try to unsettle his babyfaced opponent. I'm not saying Guerreiro is a novice, because he shares the same record as Patricio, but there's no telling the quality of all those fights in Brazil over the past four years. What we do know for certain is that here, he's taking on one of the ten best 145-pounders in the world.
With tournaments, you expect to see the unusual and that is true for this field. Last month, Justin Wilcox replaced Shahbulat Shamhalaev on maybe a week's worth of notice after the last tournament winner was injured. So, Wilcox went on to choke out Akop Stepanyan in his Bellator debut and earned this spot in the semifinals. It marked "The Silverback's" first win in over two years, as he looks to rebuild his career following a rough stretch which saw him poked in the eye and losing consecutive bouts in Strikeforce (essentially killing any hope of a UFC deal).
Joe Taimanglo, a 29-year-old fighter out of Guam, is here off a decision win over Englishman Andrew Fisher. Now on an active 10-fight winning streak, the submission fighter will have his hands full with his American Kickboxing Academy opponent. Of Joe's 24-career fights, he has ended 11 of them by submission. If he's to add to that mark, he'll become the first man since Mitsuhiro Ishida beat Wilcox by armbar in Strikeforce over five years ago, to stop him by sub.
With Pitbull the clear favorite to win another Bellator tourney, nobody is expecting a whole lot from this fight. However, it's worth remembering that this will be Wilcox off of a month's worth of training for a specific opponent.
David Rickels vs. J.J. Ambrose
Dave Rickels has one of the best entrances in the sport, dinosaurs and all. However, that didn't help him much in July when he was blasted by champion Michael Chandler in just 44-seconds, losing by knockout. It was a letdown after he won the season eight tournament with three grueling wins, but that's what happens when you fight one of the best in the world.
So, now begins his next trip towards a potential rematch with Chandler. A win here will set him up, likely early in 2014, for a spot in the next lightweight tournament.
To get there, Rickels must stop J.J. Ambrose. He is 19-4 (2 NC), but in his first and only Bellator tournament appearance, he was choked out (VON FLUE CHOKE) by Brent Weedman in 2012. Since then, he went to Asia to win a fight by knockout at Pro FC 7 before returning to Bellator where he choked out Brian Warren in January.
Mikhail Zayats vs. Aaron Rosa
Will he break you? Zayats is back and looking to avoid his first losing streak in four years. In March, he fell at the hands of Emanuel Newton, losing by unanimous decision, in the season eight tournament final. It ruined what would have been an explosive run in America for him, having already finished Babalu Sobral and Jacob Noe both in first rounds.
He is matched up against 30-year-old Texas native and former UFC heavyweight/light heavyweight Aaron Rosa. Actually, he's fresh off a run in the octagon as he last competed in March 2012 when he was finished by TKO against James Te-Huna in Australia.
Neither man will be confused for one of the top 30 fighters in the division, but they've fought around the world and with a future tournament spot waiting in the wings, maybe that can change.
JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS
- Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas has injured his ankle and will not be able to fight until 2014. He will be expected to fight tournament champ Rafael Silva first before the Joe Warren vs. Travis Marx tourney winner this season jumps into the mix.
- Despite news last week that Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira would main event the Super Bowl show at UFC 169 in February, that does not appear to be the case after all. Instead, Dana White says that title fight will happen later on the calendar, apparently because the UFC put out the information before the bout was officially signed. This would not be the first time such a sequence of events happened, with word that they signed Bibiano Fernandes in the recent past having to be retracted.
So, that Super Bowl show remains without a headlining fight at this point.
- Announced this week are the signings of the following prospects by the UFC:
1) Tom Ninimaki (20-5-1), the 31-year-old Finland native will fight Rani Yahya in December at the TUF 18 Finale. The Blackzilian is riding a 12-fight win streak, not having lost since 2006. He was last seen this year defeating Chase Beebe and Walel Watson in his native country. The featherweight once fought Hatsu Hoiki in 2005 on a Shooto card and was beaten by armbar.
2) Welterweights Andreas Stahl (9-0) and 3) Alex Garcia (10-1) will meet in each man's debut in the octagon at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Silva in December. Stahl is 25-years-old out of Sweden and his undefeated record was accomplished with five decisions, three TKOs and one submission. Garcia or "The Dominican Nightmare" is 26-years-old and a Tristar fighter out of Montreal. His only defeat came via knockout against Seth Bacyznski in 2011. Since then, he has won four consecutive bouts.
4) Adam Khaliev (6-0), the middleweight Chechen prospect, has officially inked a deal after years of rumors. He has not had a professional MMA fight since last summer, competing in kickboxing matches instead. However, before his break, he won six straight bouts between October 2011 and August 2012.
5) Last but not least is Team Alpha Male featherweight Andre "Touchy" Fili (12-1) [he instantly takes the top spot in the best nickname competition]. He has won his last eight fights dating back to 2011 and will debut in the UFC as an injury replacement against Jeremy Larsen (taking Charles Oliveira's spot) at UFC 166 in nine days.
- Julie Kedzie is back in the octagon on December 6 when she meets 23-year-old Russian Aleksandra Albu at UFC Fight Night in Australia (the Hunt/Silva show). Kedzie, one of the pioneers of women's MMA, debuted in the UFC over the summer in a loss to Germaine de Randamie (she's on a three-fight losing streak). Albu is 1-0 as a professional and the Russian will look to score the upset in two months.
- It may not be MMA, but it's a light news week, so be sure to check out GLORY KICKBOXING 11 this weekend live on Spike TV. It airs Saturday from Chicago with a stacked card for their big U.S. TV debut (they have run shows live around the country before, though). In the main event, Tyrone Spong will fight Nathan Corbett in a rematch of a bout from years ago which saw Spong knocked out. Also, there's a four-man heavyweight tournament that will be settled in one night with: Gokhan Saki vs. Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita vs. "Not That" Anderson Silva. Plus, Errol Zimmerman vs. Hesdy Gerges and Joseph Valtellini vs. Karim Ghajji rounds out the main card.
Mauro Ranallo and Duke Roufus will be the commentary team.
- Stefan Struve received some upbeat news this week as he has been cleared to return to training. His heart is indeed enlarged, although doctor's say the degree to which it is is not as previously thought according to his manager, Lex McMahon. The plan is for Struve's doctors to continue evaluating him as he returns to training to see how his heart and his condition responds. The 25-year-old was reportedly facing potential retirement, but it appears he could theoretically continue his career in 2014.