I heard a rumor somewhere that Cleveland rocks. Can anyone confirm or deny this? I’ll stop myself before I make some shameless Drew Carey jokes. Bellator 66 takes place tonight from the IX Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Featuring the semifinals of both the lightweight and middleweight tournaments, all eyes will be on the main event as Shinya Aoki takes on Eddie Alvarez in a rematch of their 2008 fight which saw Aoki get the win just 92 seconds in. Grab an ice cold Buzz Beer, chill out with your Lewises and Oswalds, and tell your Mimis to go away – it’s time for some fights!
Julian Lane (3-0) vs. Joe Heiland (6-1-1)
“Nitrane” Lane makes his Bellator debut in his home state of Ohio. The undefeated fighter has never gone the distance in his three career fights and has a nasty Guillotine Choke. “Smokin” Joe is a solid striker. With six wins in eight fights, Heiland has three decisions so he has shown he can go the distance if need be. With not much information on this two fighters, I’ll have to make a relatively uneducated guess but that’s never stopped me before. Ultimately, I think Joe decisions Julian.
Winner – Joe Heiland defeats Julian Lane via Unanimous Decision
John Hawk (6-4) vs. Marcus Vanttinen (21-3)
Strong Style Fight Team product Hawk makes his third Bellator appearance tonight. The well-rounded light heavyweight looks to rebound from a hotly-contested split decision loss to Roger Hollett. Finnish fighter Vanttinen looks for his 22nd career win. The Fight Festival veteran, who specializes in submissions, will look to impose his well and score yet another tap-out. And he will succeed. Hawk will fight vigilantly, without a doubt, but he will get clipped and likely find himself on the wrong end of a Rear-Naked Choke.
Winner – Marcus Vanttinen defeats John Hawk via Submission Round 3
Dan Spohn (6-1) vs. Attila Vegh (24-4-2)
In another contest that could have light heavyweight tournament implications, “Dragon” Spohn looks for his second Bellator victory. The NAAFS veteran has half of his wins by decision. His opponent, multiple title-winner Vegh, hails from Slovakia. The Octagon Fighting Academy fighter has 19 stoppages in his 24 wins. Needless to say, he’s a barbarian in the cage. I expect Attila continues his beastly run in the MMA world and stops Spohn in the first or second round with strikes.
Winner – Attila Vegh defeats Dan Spohn via TKO Round 1
Donny Walker (15-8) vs. Frank Caraballo (8-4)
“Eagle Eye” Walker makes his return to the cage after two unsuccessful UFC fights. Experience is experience though, and the Cleveland based fighter’s losses to Jeff Hougland and Ken Stone shouldn’t bring his stock down too far. Well-rounded featherweight Frank “The Tank” makes his return to Bellator following a successful bout against Dustin Kempf back in September. While Frank has the momentum, you have to imagine that Walker is hungry. I think his determination is the key, and he’ll score a key victory in this bout.
Winner – Donny Walker defeats Frank Caraballo via Unanimous Decision
Jessica Eye (6-1) vs. Anita Rodriguez (5-2)
In the evening’s only WMMA bout, “Evil” Eye looks to pick up her fourth straight win and second in Bellator. The decision-friendly striker is undoubtedly looking for a spot in the company’s upcoming 125-pound tournament. Her foe tonight, “El Tigre” Rodriguez, has fought much of her career in the XFL. The submission-savvy fighter is 1-0 this year already and will try to build on that momentum with a win here. The size edge undoubtedly goes to Anita as does the grappling ability. Should she be able to weather an early storm, I can see her taking “Evil” the distance and scoring the decision victory.
Winner – Anita Rodriguez defeats Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision
Thiago Michel Pereira Silva (10-2) vs. Brent Weedman (19-7-1)
In the first of two lightweight tournament semifinals on the card, Michel takes on Weedman. Thiago largely underwhelmed me in his last appearance despite his promising performances in Brazil. The vicious striker had a long boring fight to get to the semifinals and clearly hopes for a better performance tonight. Across the cage is Weedman who confused the hell out of announcers Jimmy Smith and Sean Wheelock with that Von Flue choke in the quarterfinals. The cut to 155 has served Weedman well, and I suspect he uses his ever-expanding skillset to hand Michel his third submission loss.
Winner – Brent Weedman defeats Thiago Michel Pereira Silva via Submission Round 1
Rick Hawn (12-1) vs. Lloyd Woodard (12-1)
My God, this Hawn! The former welterweight made a huge statement when he turned out the lights on Ricardo Tirloni in the quarterfinals. With heavy hands and fantastic defense, Hawn is not someone you want to find yourself in a firefight with. Woodard ripped the arm off the tournament favorite in his last bout, shocking the hardcore MMA fanbase by taking out Patricky Freire. Can “Cupcake” do the same against Hawn? Yes and no. This is a closely contested fight, and the edge absolutely goes to Hawn, but I have faith in Woodard. He’s likely going to get hurt and lose, but damnit, I want him to win.
Winner – Lloyd Woodard defeats Rick Hawn via Miracle.. err.. Split Decision
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (16-1) vs. Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves (29-4 1 NC)
Former M-1 light heavyweight champ Vasilevsky looks for his sixteenth straight win and a shot at $100,000 in the Bellator middleweight tournament final with a win tonight. One of the most well-rounded fighters in the tournament, the Russian has the skills to win the whole thing. However, Falcao is a crazy, scary man. The Brazilian striker is so frightening in fact that opponents don’t know how to handle him and either get knocked out or are too afraid to engage. I definitely think the Russian is a more-skilled fighter, but his takedown defense sucks. As such, Falcao will take him down, beat him up, beat him up some more, and ultimately hand him his second decision loss.
Winner – Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves defeats Vyacheslav Vasilevsky via Unanimous Decision
Brian Rogers (9-3) vs. Andreas Spang (7-1)
DO YOU REALIZE WE ARE SO CLOSE TO MAIQUEL FALCAO VS BRIAN ROGERS?! I can taste the violence! This fight is pretty cut and dry to me. Rogers is a hard-hitting, violent dude. Spang, a late replacement, is a striker himself and his style definitely leads me to believe that we’re looking at the best fight of the night here. Too bad for him he’s going to get hurt in the process.
Winner – Brian Rogers defeats Andreas Spang via Knockout Round 1
Shinya Aoki (30-5 1 NC) vs. Eddie Alvarez (22-3)
The man with the crazy pants, and one of Japan’s biggest MMA stars, Aoki, comes to Bellator to teach Alvarez a lesson. Having defeated him before, the confidence and cockiness that we have come to expect from “Tobikan Judan” will undoubtedly be on full display. Eddie won’t say it outright, I’m sure, but it’s pretty clear that he wants in the UFC. With his Bellator contract nearing its close, it makes perfect sense for the former lightweight champ to seek revenge against the man who defeated him in 2008. Here is what’s going to happen; Alvarez is going to outstrike Aoki and not go to the ground to him. Aoki is going to butt scoot and try to drag Eddie into his guard. Neither are going to have any luck imposing their will, and both will frustratingly and even boringly stick to their gameplans. This fight is majorly hyped up, but honestly, I’m not expecting much. Eddie takes home a lackluster decision following 15 minutes of disappointment.
Winner – Eddie Alvarez defeats Shinya Aoki via Unanimous Decision
I used up all my humor in the first bit. Just watch the fights and (shhh) smoke ‘em if you got ‘em since it’s 4/20. As always, you can catch the prelims at 7:00 PM EST on Spike.com and an hour later on MTV2 or Spike.com (or TheScore.ca in Canada). Enjoy the fights!
PHOTO CREDIT – FEG/BELLATOR