With only three weeks to go in the current Bellator season, we now move into the exciting world of tournament finals. The finals kick off tonight with Bellator 82 and the Welterweight tournament final of Andrey Koreshkov vs. Lyman Good. The main card airs live on MTV2 starting at 8:00 p.m. ET, with prelims available as a live stream on Spike.com, and here at Bloody Elbow, starting at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Here's the full Bellator 82 fight card, with the weigh-in results, followed by an in-depth preview of the main event and a look at the rest of the card:
Welterweight Tournament Finals: Lyman Good (170) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (171)
Catchweight Feature Fight(160 lbs.): David Rickels (159.8) vs. Jason Fischer (159.4)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Doug Marshall (185.4) vs. Kala Hose (185.6)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Tony Hervey (154.4) vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy (155.8)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Mario Navarro (140) vs. Anthony Bain(141.2)
Bantamweight Feature Fight: Chad Coon (135.6) vs. Shawn Bunch (136)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Brendan Seguin (185.2) vs. Giva Santana (185.8)
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Terry Davinney (205) vs. Matt Van Buren (205.8)
Catchweight(162 lbs.) Feature Fight: John Schulz (159) vs. Hector Garcia (162.2)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Jeremy Czarnecki (145.4) vs. Justin Houghton (145.2)
Andrey Koreshkov looks to be the first of potentially three Russian fighters to claim a Bellator tournament victory this season. The young, undefeated fighter got here with a decision win over Jordan Smith in the quarter-finals (the only decision of Koreshkov's career so far), and a nasty 1st round KO of Marius Zaromskis in the semi-finals.
He's always been good with his kicks, but in that Zaromskis fight, he showed off his hands as well. Koreshkov excellently used his 74" reach to keep Zaromskis at bay. Whenever Marius moved in, the Russian fighter was ready to counter-strike. He left himself a bit more open when initiating the striking exchanges, though was still successful, ultimately landing a heavy lead left hand to stun Zaromskis. From there, Koreshkov showed that he is a finisher, quickly ending the fight in brutal fashion.
Lyman Good is the former Bellator Welterweight champion looking to regain his title. His road to the finals has not been as flashy as Koreshkov's, but it's been very effective, with grinding wins over Jim Wallhead (Dec) in the quarter-finals, and Michail Tsarev (round 2 TKO) in the semis.
In those two fights, Good demonstrated his ability to dictate the terms of the fight. He's comfortable in the clinch, the stand-up, or wrestling, and is good at wearing down his opponent by pushing the pace in those areas. This was superbly on display against Tsarev. There, Good immediately took Tsarev down and applied constant pressure from the top throughout round 1. By round 2, Tsarev was the more fatigued fighter, and Good stood with him, out striking his way to a (admittedly controversial) stoppage. That ability to grind an opponent down as part of an overall fight strategy is very impressive.
Like I said, Koreshkov is the flashier fighter with the bigger highlight reel wins, but he has a lot going against him here. Good will have a definite strength advantage (and he's a fighter who knows how to use that strength), while also taking away that reach advantage Koreshkov used so well last time. Good is a smart fighter, who I expect will employ a similar strategy as the one against Tsarev - grind Koreshkov down in a war of attrition. Koreshkov has better technical skills than Tsarev, and a bigger gas tank, so it won't be as easy a process for Good this time. But as much as I like Koreshkov, I think he gets worn out and slowly picked apart here.
Prediction: Lyman Good by decision
This is pretty clearly a rebound fight for Sarinavsky. Like many other fighters in this season of Bellator, he came in as a notable, undefeated Russian prospect. But a tough split decision loss to Rich Clementi in the Lightweight tournament quarter-finals slowed him down. I still think he has a lot of upside, and he'll look to get back on track here. His opponent is the insanely busy Tony Hervey. With 27 fights in just 5 years, he's on the fast track to Travis Fulton territory. I don't see that experience saving him here though, as Sarnasvskiy should take the win.
Prediction: Alexander Sarnaskiy by sub round 1
This is like a circa 2008 EliteXC fight, and it's bizarre to see it on national television in 2012. Marshall was a WEC Light Heavyweight champion under the Zuffa banner. He dropped the belt to Brian Stann, and was not brought over to the UFC when the WEC folded the division. Hose is an EliteXC veteran who was making a decent run in 2007/2008, including a win over Phil Baroni. But he's dropped his last 3 and hasn't fought in 2 years. A few years ago, this would have been a tough fight to call, with maybe a slight edge to Hose. But with that losing streak and the time off, Marshall is the easy pick here.
Prediction: Doug Marshall by KO round 1
The most notable prelim action comes from a fighter making not only his Bellator debut, but his MMA debut. Touted wrestler Shawn Bunch debuts here against the 0-1 Chad Coon. Bunch has impressive wrestling credentials and has been training at AKA for this MMA debut. He's definitely a big name to watch, and I'm very interested to see how he does. For much more on Bunch, I strongly urge you to check out Coach Mike Riordan's superb analysis of him here.
And in one final prelim of note, "The Arm Collector" Giva Santana (17-2) takes on Brendan Sequin (23-18). Santana is a ton of fun as a sort of lower scale version of Ronda Rousey - a fighter who is absolutely determined to armbar you and, more often than not, finds success. Of his 17 wins, all but 4 come via armbar (and all but 1 of those in the first round). See if he can collect arm #14 tonight.
Hope to see you here at Bloody Elbow later tonight for Bellator 82!