Oh, Canada! I’m happy to see such exposure in my homeland. Tonight’s the night to crack open a Molson while watching some fighters crack open some skulls; a night to grab a large double-double at Tim Horton’s and watch some wrestlers shoot in with some double leg takedowns; a night to.. okay, enough Canada references. Bellator 64 is LIVE tonight from Caesar’s Windsor in Windsor, Ontario with some awesome MMA action. The Season 6 bantamweight tournament gets under way, the first semifinal of the featherweight tournament goes down as well, and most importantly Ben Askren defends his welterweight strap against Douglas Lima. A solid undercard precedes the main card with enough CanCon to make the CRTC happy.
Let’s get down to business, eh?
Taylor Solomon (3-3) vs. Jason Fischer (3-0)
Hailing from Ohsweken, Ontario, “The King” Solomon enters this fight looking for his second consecutive Bellator victory. This man is not a fan of decisions with all of his three victories coming in less than two minutes. Michigan-based Fischer is an unknown outside of his local circuit, but this local attraction fight should provide a good chance for him to make a big statement. To be clear, I don’t know anything about Fischer. Sherdog has him at 0-1, while MMA.TV has him at 3-0, so it’s confusing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Fischer weathers whatever Solomon throws at him early, and wins a decision.
Winner – Jason Fischer defeats Taylor Solomon via Unanimous Decision
Nordine Taleb (6-1) vs. Matt Secor (1-0)
Taleb is a man to watch out for on the Canadian MMA scene. With his most recent victory coming over Pete Sell back in November, the adept striker loves to stand and bang but has proven he can go the distance if needed. Across from him is undefeated New Yorker Secor. Of his three recorded fights, two of his wins have come by submission, so although there’s not much known about him he appears to favor BJJ in the cage. I don’t know enough to call this a striker vs. grappler bout, but for the sake of this prediction I’ll say the striker wins.
Winner – Nordine Taleb defeats Matt Secor via TKO Round 1
Chris Horodecki (18-3-1) vs. Mike Richman (11-1)
IFL and WEC vet Horodecki enters the Bellator cage for the third time. Noticeably absent from the lightweight tournament, a win tonight could very easily guarantee him a spot in the next incarnation. The Team Tompkins product has quite an impressive record for a 24-year old and most would agree the sky is the limit for the popular Canuck. Richman, aka “The Marine”, may not have faced much well-known opposition, but this solid grappler is no slouch. He has never been finished, and is known for having quality chokes. I like Richman. He’s a tenacious dude with serious skills, but he’s running into a “frate trane” here in Horodecki. Horodecki has made quick work of stiffer opposition, and I expect “The Polish Hammer” to pick him his third win in four fights.
Winner – Chris Horodecki defeats Mike Richman via Unanimous Decision
Chad Laprise (4-0) vs. Josh Taveirne (2-2)
Four fights with four first round TKO victories, Laprise looks to make it a solid 5-0 tonight with a win in Windsor. Known for his striking and ability to finish, Laprise is ready to fight on a bigger stage and this is his chance. Riding a two fight losing streak, Windsor’s own Taveirne is out to rebound and get back on track. Not even a professional fighter for two years, the welterweight has much room to grow. In a bout that pits two potential prospects against each other, I’m going to have to take the undefeated one over the .500 one . Sorry Josh.
Winner – Chad Laprise defeats Josh Taveirne via TKO Round 1
Kyle Prepolec (2-1) vs. Lance Snow (1-2)
In yet another local attraction, Windsor’s Prepolee is out to rebound from an October loss to Mustafa Khalil. The strong finisher has taken two of his three opponents out within the first four minutes of action with strikes and undoubtedly hopes to do so again. Across the cage is Snow, a relatively unknown and untested fighter, who looks to get back on track after suffering the first two losses of his MMA campaign. Again, not much to say about either man, but this isn’t quite a coin-flip kind of fight. Prepolic is good enough striker to where he should be able to punish Snow on the feet and likely score a TKO victory.
Winner – Kyle Prepolec defeats Lance Snow via TKO Round 2
Elias Theodorou (3-0) vs. Rich Lictawa (2-2)
Undefeated Mississauga-based Theodorou finally moves on up to the big show! After a solid effort against Erik Herbert just three weeks ago at Score Fighting Series 4, the solid middleweight gets a shot on a Bellator prelim card which is a hell of a lot better than fighting for HKFC. Lictawa hasn’t fought in over two years, and before that he hadn’t had much luck going .500 in both his professional and amateur careers. The former XFO competitor seems to enjoy beating his opponents down until they’re astral traveling. I am a firm believer in ring rust, and although I’m sure Lictawa will come out more determined than ever, I expect Elias gets him on the ground and sinks in a fight ending Rear-Naked Choke somewhere in the first two rounds.
Winner – Elias Theodorou defeats Rich Lictawa via Submission Round 2
Rodrigo Lima (10-0) vs. Hiroshi Nakamura (14-5-4)
In the first of two Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament quarterfinals on the card, the undefeated Brazilian Lima will do his best to continue his reign of dominance. With half of his victories coming by submission, it goes without saying that “Ratinho” has a powerful choke or three, but he’s proficient in other areas as well.
Longtime DEEP and Shooto vet Nakamura steps into the Bellator cage with big shoes to fill. Widely regarded as a top bantamweight in Asia, the decision-friendly “Iron” will look for his sixth win and seven fights with a solid performance against Lima.
While Lima hasn’t faced anyone worth noting he has solid abilities and with a few more key victories under his belt could be someone people are talking about. Nakamura, on the other hand, has faced some great opposition in his time but isn’t necessarily a finisher or the most exciting fighter. I give the solid advantage here to Nakamura, but I feel as if Lima just might be able to do some damage and score the TKO.
Winner – Rodrigo Lima defeats Hiroshi Nakamura via TKO Round 1
Travis Marx (18-3-1) vs. Masakatsu Ueda (15-1-2)
“T-Train”, you’ve finally made it! After 22 professional bouts, Marx enters the tournament looking for his fourth straight win. The submission specialist hasn’t faced too many opponents worth noting but a “W” is a “W” and that’s what Marx needs here.
The second decision-friendly Japanese fighter on the card, Ueda looks for his sixteenth win tonight and a chance to show the North American audience what he is capable of. The grinding Paraestra Tokyo fighter holds notable victories over Royler Gracie, Rumina Sato, and recent tournament-winner Eduardo Dantas to his credit, and is out to add Marx’s name to that list as well.
Marx is a tough guy to be facing off again. I expect him to be larger, incredibly motivated, and looking for any and every opening possible. He’s a solid threat, but personally I don’t see him as quite enough of a threat to take out Ueda. I think this will be 15 minutes of what we’ve come to expect from Ueda – controlled, yet not necessarily entertaining, dominance.
Winner – Masakatsu Ueda defeats Travis Marx via Unanimous Decision
Marlon Sandro (21-3) vs. Alexandre Bezerra (13-1)
Sandro is one step closer to redemption after falling short in an earlier tournament. The Nova Uniao featherweight will look to book his ticket to the finals tonight, and he’ll undoubtedly be ready for war as he always is. If you’re not familiar with Sandro, jump on the bandwagon quick. Even at 35, the sky is the limit for Sandro who shows little to no signs of slowing down.
Eleven years younger than his opposition, “PoPo” Bezerra sure loves submissions. As he has demonstrated time and time again, the kid can throw down in any facet of a fight. Riding a fantastic streak including wins in eight straight bouts, the crafty scrapper will be just as ready for war as Sandro is even if he doesn’t come with the same hype.
This is a really tough fight to call and possibly an early candidate for Fight of the Year (on paper at least). This match-up should have been saved for the final (and in my opinion will determine the tournament’s winner). I expect an insane brawl, some fantastic grappling, and a violent finish. Ultimately I envision Sandro coming out on top, though. I’ll go with a submission.
Winner – Marlon Sandro defeats Alexandre Bezerra via Submission Round 2
Ben Askren (9-0) vs. Douglas Lima (21-4)
The time has arrived to stop the talking and get busy in the cage. World-class smack-artist Askren returns to the cage to defend his Bellator welterweight title where the ever-improving wrestler looks to remain undefeated. With a growing list of victims behind him, the Roufusport competitor will no doubt attempt to show off his improved striking, but if you’ve seen Askren fight,you know he wants to put his opponent on the mat.
Lima isn’t going to just lay around on his back though. “The Phenom” hasn’t lost a fight in nearly three years and surely isn’t planning on starting tonight. After destroying his foes along the way to the Season 5 tournament crown, in a handful of hours he’ll stand toe-to-toe with his biggest test yet and he certainly is prepared for what lies before him.
Arguably Askren’s greatest challenge yet, Lima is a serious threat. Aside from his deadly striking, Lima has a fantastic bottom game and is always capable of pulling off submissions. Askren needs to be careful and continuously drive through Lima to put him on the mat. Askren loves holding people down, and if he can do it to Lima he’ll remain undefeated. However, Lima is not someone who just gets held down so I’m calling for the upset here. While Askren has the tools, Lima has the heart and he’ll be a happy man at the end of the night.
Winner – Douglas Lima defeats Ben Askren via Submission Round 3
All in all, tonight has some awesome fights in store. Same Bellator time, same Bellator channel (that’s 7:00 PM EST on Spike.com and an hour later on MTV2 or TheScore.ca in Canada in case you didn’t know). So make sure to cook up a nice big bowl of macaroni and cheese, squirt some ketchup on top, and enjoy the fights!