OK, who's with me - I missed Bellator last week. In the midst of what has been a pretty great season, the company took a week off from live events, and their absence was felt. Now, they are back in the swing of things, so join us tonight for Bellator 93 coverage, here on Bloody Elbow. Bellator airs live tonight on Spike TV starting at 10:00 p.m. ET with the prelims airing on Bloody Elbow and Spike.com starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Join us here at Bloody Elbow tonight for live Bellator coverage.
This is actually kind of a weird show, as it currently has only 3 scheduled main card fights, and no season 8 tournament fights of any kind. That's because two planned fights for this show had to be cancelled - first the season 8 Welterweight final between Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders was delayed due to a Lima injury. Then, just this week they announced that a Brett Rogers vs. Eric Prindle Heavyweight fight was off because Prindle is injured. What the show does feature is the season 7 Lightweight tournament finals, finally rescheduled after a last minute cancellation last December.
Here's the full Bellator 93 fight card, with weigh in results, followed by preview and predictions for the main card:
Lightweight Tournament Final Fight: Marcin Held (155.9) vs. Dave Jensen (155.8)
Heavyweight Feature Fight: Ryan Martinez (257.4) vs. Travis Wiuff (254.1)
Welterweight Feature Fight: Waachiim Spiritwolf (170.6) vs. Marcus Davis (170.5)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Dave Vitkay (185.4) vs. Jesse Peterson (185.6)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Vince Murdock (145.9) vs. John Raio (145.7)
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Brent Dillingham (205.7) vs. Mike Mucitelli (204.7)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Pierre Pierry (185.4) vs. Joe Pacheco (185.8)
Welterweight Feature Fight: Ryan Sanders (170.5) vs. Michael Page (170.6)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Jason Butcher (185.4) vs. Jack Hermansson (186)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Jesse Erickson (155.8) vs. Jon Lemke (155.4)
As MMA has evolved, it's become more and more clear that in order to thrive at the highest levels of the sport, you need to be a complete fighter. At least, usually you do. Because here and there, you still get these incredible specialists like Lyoto Machida and Rousimar Palhares. And those specialists are often incredibly exciting.
Marcin Held is such a specialist.
The 21 year old is a submission wiz with decorated grappling credentials and numerous submission wins. The biggest win of his career was in his last fight, where he defeated veteran Rich Clementi in the semifinals with a toe hold. What made that win so great was not only that it brought Held to the finals, but that it came against a crafty veteran. Clementi knew what game Held would play, tried his hardest to stop it, and still couldn't. That's just fun to watch. With his lone Bellator loss coming against now champion Michael Chandler, Held is a very exciting young talent to watch. He had a bit of a hiccup on his way to this fight, as the then 20 year old was banned from the casino arena when the fight was originally scheduled, but now that he is 21, he is in the clear.
Dave Jansen is on the complete other end of the spectrum. He's a 33 year old well travelled fighter, who has competed for M-1 and the WEC. Stylistically, he's also far from Held. Jansen is primarily a wrestler, though also inclines towards engaging in slugfests when needed. He comes to the finals with a controversial split decision win over Ricardo Tirloni in a fight many (myself included) thought should have gone Tirloni's way. Still, he's here now, and ready to make the most of it.
There's no doubt that Jansen is the more well rounded fighter with the better stand-up game. But there's nothing Jansen does with as much skill as Held submits people. I see this one ending up on the mat with Jansen on top and Held constantly threatening from his back - and eventually succeeding.
Prediction: Marcin Held by submission, round 1
Ah the Bellator Heavyweight division. While the company has done a tremendous job finding talent in the majority of divisions, Heavyweight remains pretty weak. Champion Alexander Volkov has no challengers lined up, and there's no tournaments forthcoming, or even much of a roster to fill a tournament. This is a pretty high profile fight for Martinez, who has previously been on the prelims. He's gone the distance both times, losing a split decision to Mike Wessel, then defeating Manny Lara by unanimous decision. That Lara fight wasn't pretty, as Martinez grounded the gassed Lara to take a pretty uninspiring win. Wiuff is a veteran of, well, pretty much every organization that has ever run MMA. I think he has a fight scheduled for tomorrow in my neighbor's backyard. He's moving back up to Heavyweight here after a solid 4-1 run in Bellator's Light Heavyweight division. Wiuff is coming off of back to back losses, first in Bellator to Attila Vegh, then in Abu Dhabi to Maro Perak. It's likely he is starting to slow down somewhat, but he still has the veteran skills and well rounded game to get by Martinez.
Prediction: Travis Wiuff by decision
This is a feature fight for Davis - a chance to give the longtime veteran a fight in front of a hometown crowd in Maine and send the fans home happy. The Irish Hand Grenade is a 10 year veteran best known for a lengthy and solid run in the UFC. He was cut from the promotion in 2011 after a 1-4 run (which included a loss to fellow Bellator fighter Ben Saunders). Since then, he's 4-1 with wins over Pete Spratt and David Bielkheden and a loss to Chuck O'Neil. He also took an ill-advised kickboxing fight that ended poorly with Davis KO'd. A boxer, Davis was always known for his entertaining fights, but at 39 years old and with a lot of wars behind him, he's just not the fighter he once was. To be honest, he hasn't looked fantastic in his post-UFC run. This is just his second fight since 2011. I'm hoping for a quick KO win here, followed by a well earned retirement. And he's paired up with the right opponent for that. Spiritwolf is one of those fighters who just always seems to be involved in something weird. His fights tend to bring a degree of excitement for various reasons, often just due to his persona. He's never been a world beater, but he did have a respectable start to his career. Lately though, he's fallen on tough times - Spiritwolf has only won 1 of his last 8 fights, and is coming off back to back 2012 losses to Marius Zaromskis, both in Bellator. He's here to be a victim to Davis, and I suspect he obliges.
Prediction: Marcus Davis by KO
The biggest fight to watch on the prelims is Jack Hermansson (5-1) vs. Jason Butcher (5-0). Hermansson made his Bellator debut last December. He's a skilled fight from Norway who I had high hopes for in that debut, but lost a good, close fight to Daniel Vizcaya. He's in need of a win here to show that his potential is for real. But Butcher is a dangerous opponent who trains with Jorge Gurgel and has won all 5 of his fights via first round submission. Should be a good one.
Join us tonight for live coverage of Bellator 93, live on Spike TV.