Bellator 49: Welterweight Tournament Preview

The Bellator promotion returns to New Jersey to bombard Saturday the 10th with even more action, as the 2011 Welterweight Tournament ignites at Bellator 49 on MTV2 at 9 p.m. ET. Increasing the ammo in their clip, for the first time Bellator will also simulcast the main card on the EPIX network and broadcast the preliminary card on Spike.com at 7 p.m. ET.

These four welterweight quarterfinal matches make up the entire MTV2 main card:

Douglas Lima vs. Steve Carl
Dan Hornbuckle vs. Luis Santos
Ben Saunders vs. Chris Cisneros
Brent Weedman vs. Chris Lozano

The Spike.com preliminaries are composed of:

Joel Roberts vs. Brylan VanArtsdalen
Giedrius Karavackas vs. LeVon Maynard
Alexandre Bezerra vs. Scott Heckman
Lester Caslow vs. James Jones
Azunna Anyanwu vs. J.A. Dudley

Leland Roling's prescience continues to actualize. Two of his 2010 World MMA Scouting Report selections adorn the Strikeforce card and welterweights Douglas Lima (#4 on the Scouting Report) and Luis "Sapo" Santos (#5 on the Scouting Report) are Bellator tournament entries. Brush up on their fighting specs and become further enlightened.

On the undercard, the name Giedrius Karavackas should jump off the page for the sugary sweet submission from Kesa Gatame that he finished Sam Oropeza with at Bellator 44. A quick rundown of the main card match ups can be found after the break.

SBN coverage of Bellator 49

Dan Hornbuckle (22-4) vs. Luis "Sapo" Santos (49-6-1)

This is easily the fight I'm anticipating the most.5_dan_medium

Consecutive highlight reel knockouts of established veterans Nick Thompson and Akihiro Gono in Sengoku caused the hardcore audience to take note of Dan Hornbuckle.

After losing his third fight in 2006, Hornbuckle blasted through seventeen of his next eighteen opponents, consummated by his two rousing knockouts in Sengoku with only UFC welterweight Mike Pyle besting him.

He showed his ground prowess after signing with Bellator in back to back first round submissions of Tyler Stinson and Steve Carl. Hornbuckle would then double his career losses by dropping decisions to champ Ben Askren and Brent Weedman with a win over Brad Blackburn sandwiched in between.

4_dan_medium

A 6'2" ATT-bred fighter, Hornbuckle wields the fan pleasing combination of long, sharp Thai and smooth BJJ on the mat.

He's a tough customer in the clinch and uses his reach well in open space. He fights a lot like Ben Saunders, which happens to be the match up I hope this tournament produces.

His rep lost some luster after losing to Weedman, but many contested the decision and don't realize what a hidden talent Weedman is.

The fifty-six career fights for Luis "Sapo" Santos is not a typo. The thirty-one year old has the luxury of vast experience, holds a BJJ black belt, has a complete arsenal with wicked boxing and Muay Thai, used to train with the Nogueira brothers, and boasts twenty-six strike stoppages and ten subs.

He's a strong and mean finisher who has recently tamed his fury to become more poised and calculating. His fire-laden Thai game and sturdy ground skills mirror Hornbuckle's style, but Sapo is more of a ground-and-pounder and will match his stocky frame against Hornbuckle's length.

The betting lines have Hornbuckle as the slight favorite, which is sensible based on his better track record. I think the crippling left high kick that Hornbuckle sank Thompson and Gono with is the type of weapon that can kill the unexpected, but becomes manageable when you know it's coming. We saw the same pattern with Mirko Filopovic and Marius Zaromskis. This is Hornbuckle's go-to move standing and must be respected.

Sapo can get a little carried away hurling fireballs from the top, so his goal will be to get inside Hornbuckle's gangly strikes and use his punching power and strength at close range, being careful not to over-commit in his guard. I would take Sapo for the upset if Hornbuckle hadn't shown an iron chin thus far. This is a competitive match up that Hornbuckle should be able to eke out.

My Prediction: Dan Hornbuckle by split-decision

15_medium

Brent Weedman (18-6-1) vs. Chris Lozano (8-1)

Brent Weedman is starting to get some respect and Chris Lozano deserves it too.

Lozano is a Strong Style Fight Team member who quite simply specializes in knocking the crap out of people. He started off with four vicious first-round knockouts, wore down former UFC welterweight Jason Dent and made him quit in the fourth, then crunched another former Octagon welterweight in Yoshiyuki Yoshida in the second.

23_medium

Lozano then suffered his first defeat at the hands of savvy striker Lyman Good (above, left), but gained respect in the process. He rebounded with wins by head-kick KO and his first submission, both in the opening frame.

Lozano's best attributes are his punching power, Big Brother Strength, and the fact that he has no weaknesses.

He throws bricks, he's a good wrestler and submission grappler, and he makes you work hard for everything.

Brent Weedman has been another nice Bellator surprise. 2_dan_medium

I don't know much about his upbringing, but his MMA record speaks for itself. He won eight and lost five (plus one draw) in the first chunk of his career, defeated by solid foes in Gray Maynard, Hornbuckle, Anthony Lapsley, a beefy fireplug named Jake Short and North Carolina sleeper Rhomez Brower.

The second half of his career has been stellar: he scored ten straight -- including wins over Rudy Bears and fellow tourney participants Douglas Lima and Hornbuckle -- before losing to Jay Hieron by decision in his last outing.

Like the first bout, this is a very evenly matched contest between two similarly well rounded fighters. The betting lines appoint Weedman as a slight favorite, again for facing better competition. The only miniscule difference is that Weedman is probably a tad more technical and cerebral and Lozano is more viscerally aggressive.

I see it as a toss-up and will take a slight chance in picking Lozano for the upset in all out war.

My Prediction: Chris Lozano by split-decision

Ben Saunders (10-3-2) vs. Chris Cisneros (13-3)

1_medium

While Askren and some of Bellator's top-tier welterweights are a different story, there's no reason to pick against Saunders at this stage of the tourney.

The only hole he needs to fill is dealing with elite wrestlers. Saunder's stretched out Thai acumen and slick submission wit is a nightmare match up for all but the top welterweights in any organization.

He substantiated Matt Lee's reputation for taking unfathomable punishment in his Bellator debut, snatching up his signature plum clinch and drubbing him with relentless knees.

2_medium

His telephone pole arms and dynamic clinch are just too devastating for anyone but a cleaner striker or takedown artist to overcome.

Beware that Chris Cisneros is indeed a decent boxer. At 5'11", he'll have less of a reach and height disadvantage than most and could absolutely stun Saunders with close-range combinations.

Cisneros has decent stand up but doesn't back it up with a lot of power, so he'll have to win through volume and precision on the feet.

With six submissions under his belt, he's far from clueless on the ground, but I think he's just over-matched in this one.

My Prediction: Ben Saunders by TKO

Douglas Lima (18-4) vs. Steve Carl (14-2)

Lima recently had a commanding run through MFC S380s_mediumto become welterweight champion, finishing Ryan Ford (right) and Jesse Juarez by submission and Terry Martin by TKO.

His grappling is frightening and is usually unstoppably applied at some point. His striking is easily his weakest aspect, but it's been adequate enough to keep him afloat until he can work his ground game.

Steve Carl is a newer face that I'm not intimately familiar with outside of his three Bellator performances, where he lost to Hornbuckle but beat Tyler Stinson (both by submission) and crept past the sturdy Brett Cooper in a split decision.

All signs point to Lima enduring some awkward striking exchanges before assailing Carl with his grappling wizardry.

My Prediction: Douglas Lima by submission

 

 

All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com

 

 

 


 


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