Bellator holds many events in Connecticut but since I'm just a college kid with no money, I never got a chance to actually see the event live. So hopefully this contest will finally give me a chance to attend one of the Bellator events.
So for this contest, I decided to write a preview/predictions of Bellator 98 main card. We have new middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko, defending his title for the first time along with the beginning of Bellator Middleweight Tournament. And we finally have the comeback of "The Baddest Man on The Planet" Joe Warren.
So let's get this started!
[MW] Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper - Middleweight Championship
Shlemenko became the new Bellator middleweight champion after finishing Maiquel Falcao. After Hector Lombard left Bellator, Shlemenko was considered as the top middleweight in Bellator and by finishing Falcao, he cemented his status as the best MW in Bellator. And his opponent, Brett Cooper, was on 6 fight winning streak and advanced to the MW tournament final. However he was KO'ed by Doug Marshall and lost his opportunity to fight for the title. But Marshall broke his hand and was forced out of the bout so Bellator brought Cooper as a replacement and now he has a chance to redeem himself.
Just like other Russian fighters, Shlemenko is very well-rounded and technical. He can keep fights on the feet and if he doesn't feel comfortable standing, he has ability to bring it down to the ground and grapple. So you can say Shlemenko is a technical fighter while Cooper is more of a brawler. He doesn't have the best technique in the world but he has a huge heart and cardio to push the pace and once he lands a big shot, he will smell blood and come in to finish.
As matter of fact, these two men have fought before and Shlemenko won. And in this rematch, I don't think the result will be any different. Overall, I think Shlemenko is the favorite since he has very technical stand up skills and once he gets into the center, he will put some pressure on you so he can utilize his clinch game and he can use it very well. Cooper is a brawler so Shlemenko can easily stay outside and land punches and if he doesn't feel comfortable exchanging blows, it wouldn't be too hard to close the distance and establish a clinch position or get a takedown and bring it to the ground. And although Cooper is a pretty big underdog, Shlemenko tends to keep his hands low and Cooper has power to finish anyone with one punch or hurt enough and follow up with more shots to finish. So you never want to count Cooper out completely.
But I will go with a safer bet.
Shlemenko by (T)KO
Joe Warren made some serious wave in MMA once he had his debut fight in Japan. Warren has some high caliber experience in greco-roman wrestling as he won many championships including World Championship. And after failing drug tests for 08 Olyimpics (not for PEDs, it's just weed man.) he made a transition to MMA and in his first fight, he finished a seasoned veteran, Chase Beebe. Then he went on to beat Kid Yamamoto by split decision (although I think it should've been unanimous.) and advanced to Dream Featherweight GP Final in his debut year. Then he moved to Bellator and became the FW Champion and had a very successful career until he joined BW tournament and lost to Villa. And then he fought Pat Curran and failed to defend his FW champion belt. After Warren lost his FW title, he fought Owen Evinger and won a unanimous decision. Warren's opponent, Nick Kirk, has 10-2 record and have fought for Bellator twice and lost both of those appearances. Although Kirk has very impressive record but doesn't have any experience against top fighters.
As you can tell from Warren's background, his strongest asset is wrestling. Warren's boxing is always improving and he likes to use it too but he never hesitates to use his wrestling so I fully expect him to bring this fight to the ground. And Nick Kirk is a grappler but as I mentioned in above paragraph, Kirk doesn't have any experience against elite fighters and in his two Bellator appearances, he came up short and to be honest, those two fighters aren't even in the level of Warren. I think Warren will bring it to the ground, land punches from the top and possibly finish the fight.
Warren by (T)KO
[MW] Justin Torrey vs. Andreas Spang - Middleweight Tournament Quaterfinal
Torrey and Spang both have very similar style. Both of them are very exciting with good standup and ground skills. Spang has fought for many good organizations such as ROF, MFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator while Torrey has only fought for local organizations until he joined Bellator. So experience wise I would give Spang an edge. But Torrey is undefeated in MMA, including Bellator bouts so obviously Torrey is a very promising prospect.
The way Torrey fights show that Justin Torrey may have great physical and technical talent but he hasn't competed for over 3 years now and we don't know if he would suffer badly from ring rust or not. I think this bout is very hard to predict because there are too many factors to think about but I will go with Spang since both have very similar style but he's been more active last few years.
Spang by Decision
[MW] Dan Cramer vs. Perry Filkins - Middleweight Tournament Quaterfinal
Connecticut's own Dan Cramer is fighting on this card. Cramer made his name by appearing on TUF 7. Cramer has fought for Bellator for over 3 years now and had a pretty successful career in Bellator with 7 wins and 3 losses, one of his wins came from current UFC fighter and BE user, Josh Samman. Perry Filkins mostly fought for Massachussets local events then made an appearance in Bellator. Filkins' record shows he's a finisher as he finished 6 out of 7 wins all by (T)KO.
Filkins has very good clinch work and on standing, he likes to counter once his opponents come in. But his offensive output on standup isn't necessarily the best. Filkins' best chance in this fight would be outworking Cramer. But that's a really hard job to do since Cramer himself is a grinder. Cramer uses his striking skills to get into a clinch position and take his opponents down and beat them up there, much like his opponent. When two fighters with similar styles fight, most of time simply better fighter wins, and I think Cramer is a little better than Filkins in everywhere.
Cramer by Decision
These are my predictions of Bellator 98 main card fights and now hopefully I will win tickets to Bellator 98 so I can attend the event and see how my predictions go.
Thank you very much!