It’s Friday, Friday, gotta watch fights on Friday. Everybody’s punches faces on the weekend, weekend. Sitting in my bedroom, sitting in my bathroom, gotta make my mind up, which seat will I take? That’s right, it’s Friday, and as you’ve come to expect, I am back with another quality Bellator breakdown. At this point, I’ve been in more Fridays than Ice Cube. An accomplishment, I suppose? Bellator 65 goes down tonight on MTV2 and, aside from one of the best bantamweight fights we’ll have the pleasure of seeing with Zach Makovsky defending his title against Eduardo Dantas, we are also treated to three tournament bouts in two weight classes. Who will face Marlon Sandro? Who will do other relevant things in Bellator?
It’s time to find out…
Will Martinez Jr. (3-2-1) vs. Andy Main (5-1)
This featherweight bout pits relative newcomers Martinez and Main against one another to determine who will move up the ladder in the division. Both men are solid competitors with six fights to their credit. Martinez is a balls-to-the-wall fighter and is definitely a finisher. Most notably, he went to a draw with TUF 15 competitor Al Iaquinta. Main loves to make people tap. While he is proficient on the feet, the ground is where he really shines and where he undoubtedly will be looking to take this fight. I expect a scrappy brawl between these two and some seriously fast-paced action, but ultimately I give the edge to Main.
Winner – Andy Main defeats Will Martinez Jr. via Submission Round 2
Mikhail Malyutin (21-9) vs. E.J. Brooks (5-0)
Longtime M-1 Global veteran Malyutin brings his impressive record stateside and looks to score a signature victory in his Bellator debut. Undefeated Brooks is a solid fighter who is just starting to come into his own inside the cage. It’s going to be experience vs. potential in this bout. I suspect Brooks comes out strong, but as he fades,the decision-friendly Malyutin takes him into his realm and takes the final two frames.
Winner – Mikhail Malyutin defeats E.J. Brooks via Split Decision
Plinio Cruz (5-4) vs. Duane Bastress (4-1)
Just barely breaking the .500 threshold, Cruz enters the bout looking to score his first win in over two years tonight. Bastress looks to follow up on his strong Bellator debut where he defeated Daniel Gracie via Doctor Stoppage. Bastress is a solid striker, and as such I expect that unfortunately for Cruz the losing streak continues and he reaches the dreaded .500 mark 10 fights into his career.
Winner – Duane Bastress defeats Plinio Cruz via TKO Round 3
Lester Caslow (7-6 1 NC) vs. Scott Heckman (9-3)
A featherweight who also approaches the .500 mark, Caslow looks to get back on track after a submission loss to Duane van Helvoirt at Ring of Combat 39. A well-rounded fighter, what he lacks in skill he makes up for with his tenacity. “The Animal” Dave Batista…I mean…Heckman, is a hell of a grappler. With only one loss in his last five, coming at the hands of Alexandre “PoPo” Bezerra, he has shown he can handle mid-tier competition with relative ease. I expect poor Lester to join the .500 club tonight as well. Heckman will take him down and will make him tap.
Winner – Scott Heckman defeats Lester Caslow via Submission Round 1
Kenny Foster (9-6) vs. Jay Haas (10-8 1 NC)
Oh Foster, you were kicking some serious ass, and then all of a sudden you dropped four straight? Get it together man! “The Tooth Fairy” needs a win here, badly, if he wants to remain with the promotion. You can’t just drop five straight and expect people to be clamoring to see you in the cage. Haas may not be the best or most consistent fighter around but he is very much a finisher. I can tell you right now this fight is ending with a submission, no matter what. If it’s a matter of which of these submission prone guys will get caught first, I’m going to say it’ll be Foster.
Winner – Jay Haas defeats Kenny Foster via Submission Round 1
Ailton Barbosa (10-3) vs. Kris McCray (7-3)
With eight of his ten victories coming by submission, American Top Team prospect Barbosa looks to earn his shot at the next Bellator welterweight tournament as he takes on Ultimate Fighter 11 finalist McCray. McCray, a well-rounded fighter who didn’t fair well inside the Octagon, looks for his third straight victory. The Iron Army welterweight also has a shot to make a statement to Bellator matchmakers with a win tonight. I wouldn’t be expecting fireworks in this bout, as neither of these gentleman are proficient strikers by any means, so a ground battle is all but certain. While Barbosa has some great ground skills, I feel as if McCray will pick up his third decision victory in this bout.
Winner – Kris McCray defeats Ailton Barbosa via Unanimous Decision
Lyman Good (11-2) vs. LeVon Maynard (12-8)
Good returns to the cage after a year hiatus. Having only suffered losses to Ben Askren and Rick Hawn, the Team Tiger Schulmann fighter holds wins over Mike Dolce and Chris Lozano and is looking to get back on track and back on the radar in Bellator. Plainly put, “Da Maynman” Maynard is a big dude. The 28-year old steps into the Bellator cage for fourth time and is seeking his second win inside the organization. Both of these guys are well-rounded, explosive, and athletic, but only one can be victorious, right? Good is a few steps ahead of Maynard whose chin has been tested plenty of times before. Good often wins by decision, but I think he’s getting the stoppage in this one.
Winner – Lyman Good defeats Levon Maynard via TKO Round 2
Alexis Vila (11-1) vs. Luis Alberto Nogueira (12-2)
Last season’s bantamweight tournament finalist, Vila is back! You may know him best from that time he sent Joe Warren astral traveling with his plutonium laced fist. The 41-year old has heavy hands and is ready to take this bantamweight tournament field by storm.
Three-time Bellator fighter Nogueira returns to the promotion in anticipation of picking up his third win in four fights. While he has good striking and a sufficient enough BJJ game, Nogueira tends to go the distance and does very well when he does. Perhaps that’s his key to victory here?
This is a tough one to call. Nogueira has the skills to get him by in this bout, but Vila is a serious threat on the feet, and can easily win a decision of his own. Having said that, Vila is no spring chicken and doesn’t necessarily fair well in later rounds. I think he might be able to land the big shot he needs to finish the fight, but the younger, quicker fighter should be able to get the nod after a solid but slow fifteen minutes.
Winner – Luis Alberto Nogueira defeats Alexis Vila via Unanimous Decision
Marcos Galvao (10-5-1) vs. Ed West (17-6)
In the final bantamweight tournament quarterfinal bout, former WEC fight Galvao takes on West. Galvao is a grinder if there ever was one. With all but one of his victories coming be decision, the Nova Uniao fighter knows what it takes to win, and isn’t afraid to bore a crowd to get the win.
A finalist in the inaugural Bellator bantamweight tournament, West has been in there with both tournament winners and proven that he can hang with the best of them. The Apex MMA product is a flashy striker, although his strikes are not often very effective.
I expect this bout to go the distance. While Galvao has the tools to win a decision, his backwards movement and lack of action can often be to his detriment, and he has lost decisions based on that before. West should be able to make this a very competitive fight, and in the end I believe his flashy striking and effective grappling will give him a hard earned decision victory.
Winner – Ed West defeats Marcos Galvao via Split Decision
Daniel Straus (18-4) vs. Mike Corey (12-2-1)
The semifinal round of the featherweight tournament wraps up as Bellator veteran Straus takes on Corey. Straus, a powerful wrestler with eleven decisions in eighteen wins, hopes to pick up his fifteenth victory in sixteen fights and get his shot at $100,000.
His opponent, the tournament dark horse Corey, is a solid wrestler who brings an undefeated record under the Bellator banner into this bout. While grappling is his bread and butter, he has good submission skills and his Arm-Triangle Choke is something to stay away from at all costs.
While Corey caught me off guard against Ronnie Mann, I don’t feel as if lightning will strike twice for the Team Curran featherweight. While there is some mystery surrounding where Daniel’s head is at following the untimely death of his training partner and friend Chris Smith this past week, I think Strauss can hang in their mentally and should be able to take home the W with a fitting tribute to his fallen comrade following his victory.
Winner – Daniel Straus defeats Mike Corey via Unanimous Decision
Zach Makovsky (14-2) vs. Eduardo Dantas (13-2)
In the main event of the evening, bantamweight champion “Fun Size” defends his belt against season five tournament winner Dantas. Makovsky used his wrestling to get to the top of the 135-pound pool, but he has come into his own as of late. I personally have Makovsky in my Top 10 in the division and I feel a great performance here will put him up another notch or two.
Dantas is a beast. With six wins in his last seven bouts, “Dudu” tore his way through all opposition en route to the season five tournament finals, where we derailed the Vila hype train and handed him his first loss. The 23-year old Nova Uniao fighter looks to add his name to the ever growing list of championship caliber fighters involved with the camp.
In what should be the best fight of the evening, look for Makovsky to time his shots well, change levels quickly, and take the Brazilian to the mat as often and as hard as possible. While on the ground, Dantas should be able to come close to, if not be able to complete some solid submission attempts, but in the end I think Makovsky survives and starts to pull away on the judges scorecards as the bout wears on. I expect a decision, but not an Askren-style outpointing because you will be entertained!
Winner – Zach Makovsky defeats Eduardo Dantas via Unanimous Decision.
Friday, Friday.. oh you get it. Let’s get on with the damn show which fans can catch at 7:00 PM EST on Spike.com and an hour later on MTV2 (or TheScore.ca in Canada). Enjoy the fights!
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR