Tonight, Bellator is back in action with Bellator 78. The night's main focus is the semi-final round of their season 7 elterweight tournament, with former Bellator champion Lyman Good in the main event, and former Dream champion Marius Zaromskis in the other half of the bracket. As always, Bellator airs live on MTV2, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET with the prelim card airing at 6:00 p.m. ET on Spike.com. And of course, be sure to join us here at Bloody Elbow tonight for live Bellator coverage.
While the Welterweight fights take center stage, the rest of the card should be fun as well. Here's the full Bellator 78 fight card, with weigh-in results:
Welterweight Tournament Semifinals Fight: Michail Tsarev (171) vs. Lyman Good (170.5)
Welterweight Tournament Semifinals Fight: Andrey Koreshkov (170.5) vs. Marius Zaromskis (170.5)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Brian Rogers (185) vs. Dominique Steele (184.5)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Daniel Straus (145.5) vs. Alvin Robinson (145)
Catchweight Feature Fight(140): David Blattman (139) vs. Justin McNally (138)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Rocky Edwards (155) vs. Rob Hanna (154)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Jared Combs (184.5) vs. Mikkel Parlo (185.5)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Billy Horne (184) vs. Trey Houston (185)
Women's Feature Fight: Zoila Gurgel (123.5) vs. Casey Noland (125.5)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Shaun Asher (183) vs. Jason Butcher (184)
Here, we'll preview the card, focusing on the tournament fights.
Michail Tsarev (24-2) vs. Lyman Good (13-2)
The main event sees Bellator's first ever Welterweight champion Lyman Good vs. Russian fighter Michail Tsarev.
Tsarev comes out of Russia's excellent RusFighters Sport Club, home to Bellator veteran Alexander Shlemenko among others. He made his Bellator debut a month ago in what was his first fight outside of Russia.
Good started his career on a 10-0 win streak that included winning the Bellator belt. He lost that title to Ben Askren, and has since had one shot at a rematch, losing in the season 4 tournament to Rick Hawn in a close decision. He's 3-1 since losing the belt.
Both Tsarev and Good had very clinch-heavy battles in the quarter-finals, but their different approaches to that clinch game say a lot about each fighter.
In his fight with Jim Wallhead, Good initiated the clinch repeatedly, using it to wear down Wallhead en route to a unanimous decision victory. Good is an aggressive fighter, who likes to push his way in and bully his opponents. He's willing to fight it out in a war of attrition, which is exactly how he took the win over Wallhead. From the clinch, he used dirty boxing to beat Wallhead up.
Tsarev similarly found himself clinching frequently with quarterfinal opponent Tim Welch, but his use of the clinch was very different. A submission artist, Tsarev used the clinch in order to neutralize his opponent's stand-up game, and then to drag the fight to the mat. On the ground, Tsarev is dangerous, with a very active submission game from both the top and the bottom. He finally caught Welch with a lightning quick rear naked choke in round 2.
Head to head, Tsarev should have a definite advantage over Good on the ground, while Good will enjoy the advantage on the feet, as Tsarev's striking defense is an area of weakness. One danger for Tsarev here is that he seemed to tire in round 2 against Welch. If Good uses the clinch and his superior striking to put the pressure on Tsarev, I suspect he'll be able to wear the Russian down. He needs to be very wary if it goes to the mat, but I like the ex-champ's chances here.
Prediction: Lyman Good by TKO round 2
Andrey Koreshkov (11-0) vs. Marius Zaromskis (19-6; 1 NC)
Former Dream champion Zaromskis makes his return to Bellator here against another Russian fighter in Koreshkov.
Zaromskis made a name for himself in first Cage Rage, then Dream. He started his career with an impressive 13-3 run that included his title win in Dream. After that, he made the move to Strikeforce, challenging Nick Diaz for the Strikeforce crown. He had some troubles there, going 0-2 with 1 No Contest. He came to Bellator early this year, and is currently on a 5 fight win streak.
Zaromskis is known for his flashy style and big kicks, and for good reason. He has some seriously impressive KO's on his highlight reel, including an incredible rolling heel kick KO of Bruno Carvalho last year. He now really hunts for that head kick, which is fun, but can also get him into some trouble as he can get caught by more technical counter punchers. But he can also take those punches and keep coming. That's what we saw against Nordine Taleb in the quarterfinals. Taleb was able to pick Zaromskis apart at range, but it was the heavier shots from Zaromskis, including some nice body work, that did the most damage, giving him the unanimous decision win.
Andrey Koreshkov is a teammate of Tsarev's at RusFighters. The undefeated 22 year old made his Bellator debut at Bellator 69 in May, competing for the first time outside of Russia. But he was on the radar already - Bloody Elbow named him the #1 Welterweight prospect in our 2012 Scouting Report.
Koreshkov is a very exciting and talented young prospect. Like Zaromskis he has a very nice arsenal of kicks and supplements those kicks with good hands. Also like Zaromskis, he will charge in, and can get caught doing so. Against Jordan Smith he had a little trouble on the ground, but showed incredible survival skills, escaping a seemingly fight-ending submission attempt. In the end, his precise striking outpointed Smith, giving him the unanimous decision win - Koreshkov's first decision of his career.
Style make fights, and this is an awesome fight. You have two forward moving kicking machines, both looking for highlight reel KO's. In the end, I like Koreshkov, who I think is just a bit tighter and more precise with his shots. Either way, this should be a great fight.
Prediction: Andrey Koreshkov by decision
Rounding out the main card are Dominique Steele vs. Brian Rogers and Daniel Straus vs. Alvin Robinson. The fight that is getting the most talk is actually a prelim fight, as Bellator women's 115 pound champion Zoila Gurgel returns from over a year long absence to fight Casey Noland. This fight has been the source of some controversy this week, as Miesha Tate questioned Bellator's decision to put Gurgel on the prelims.
Overall, it should be a fun night of fights, as Bellator almost always delivers. I have high hopes for Koreshkov vs. Zaromskis, and Good vs. Tsarev is an intriguing match-up as well. We'll see who takes the next step towards Ben Askren and the Bellator title tonight. Remember to join us here at Bloody Elbow for live coverage.