Bellator is back this Friday, February 13th with another night of fights. And while this may not be the biggest name card that the promotion has ever run (in fact it may be one of the shortest in terms of name value) it should still be a decent night of action fights for fans looking for something fun to watch on a Friday night. The main card starts at 9 pm EST (and 9pm PST on tape delay) and features an action headline bout between former middleweight champion Alexander Shelmenko and power punching kickboxer Melvin Manhoef. A shortened prelim card will live stream on Spike.com, starting at 8pm EST/5pm PST, with another set of bouts set to stream online after the main event as well.
Here's a look at the fights worth talking about:
As of fight day, Alexander Shlemenko is sitting as high as -289 (and low as -235) over Melvin Manhoef, who is an underdog to the tune of +221 (as low as +180). And while this may look like something of a pick 'em fight for two guys that are almost certainly going to slug it out, I'd say those odds are pretty sensible. There's no doubt that Manhoef carries more one-shot-kill power in his hands than Shelmenko, but he also has a much longer history (and recent history) of getting KO'd in prolonged striking exchanges. Shlemenko will almost certainly get hit hard a couple times, but he's only been KO'd once in his career to date, and the longer this fight goes the better chance he wears Manhoef down with his variety and unpredictability and gets a TKO stoppage in the second round.
My Pick: Alexander Shlemenko by TKO.
For a completely different fight, the odds on a Pat Curran win are pretty similar as those for Shlemenko. he's sitting between -259 and -225 as the favorite over Daniel Weichel, who's an underdog to the tune of +175 to +210. In some ways, this is a bout that I feel is closer than those odds. Weichel may not have the name value that Curran has, but he's a scrappy, well rounded, and consistent fighter who stays aggressive in all areas. Add to that that Curran has had trouble getting out of first gear lately and we could be in for a very hard fought three round war. IF Weichel can establish his wrestling game and top control grappling, I could see him stealing a win. If he can't, however, I think this is Curran's fight.
My Pick: Pat Curran by decision (possibly split)
Julia Budd vs. Gabrielle Halloway
These odds could be a lot longer than they are right now, really. On the day, Budd is sitting comfortable between -569 and -650 as the favorite over Halloway, at +382 to +506. While Budd, despite her kickboxing credentials, may not be the most exciting highlight reel fighter in the business, she's almost certainly a class above Halloway. Both women prefer a grinding, takedown to top control style of fighting, but Budd has proved she can use that style with really great consistency. Add to that that she's a full five inches taller than Halloway, and it's really hard to pick against her here.
My Pick: Julia Budd by TKO.
I'm a little shocked that these are the longest odds on this card, and I can only chalk that up to a lot of name value hype for Chris Honeycutt, stemming from his collegiate wrestling career. He comes in at a whopping -833 to -1000 as the favorite over Clayton MacFarlane, at +514 to +725. While not as prestigious, MacFarlane was an NCWA national wrestling champion. Thus far in his MMA career, MacFarlane is 4-0 fighting only under the Xplode banner (which essentially means he's 0-0). But, that doesn't mean he's necessarily way behind Honeycutt, who wasn't exactly fighting the best regional competition before he beat Aaron Wilkinson in his Bellator debut last September. Honeycutt has looked good, and deserves to be the favorite, but MacFarlane doesn't look like a pushover and I wouldn't be shocked if he gives Honeycutt a lot more trouble than expected.
My Pick: Chris Honeycutt by decision.