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Bellator 149: Shamrock vs Gracie preview, predictions, and analysis

Preview Bellator 149 here, featuring Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie and Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000. That's right.

This Friday night, Bellator is serving up their latest tent-pole event, and it's pretty much the craziest one yet. Bellator 149: Shamrock vs. Gracie airs this Friday night, February 19, live on Spike TV with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET.

The two marquee match-ups on this card are truly bizarre fights - Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie III in a rematch from UFC 1 (!) and streetfighter turned MMA fighter Kimbo Slice vs. streetfighter turned MMA fighter Dada 5000. There are also some slightly more relevant fights featuring title contenders, if that's your cup of tea.

Let's see what the main card has in store for us at Bellator 149.

Royce Gracie (14-2-3 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Ken Shamrock (28-16-2 MMA; 0-1 Bellator)

For this one, we need to roll the clock all the way back to 1993. It was a meager 23 years ago that these two men first met in an MMA cage, with Gracie chocking Ken out en route to winning UFC 1 and launching the modern day legend of the Gracie family. They rematched in 1995 - that fight is technically a draw since there were no judges, but Shamrock pretty clearly took the win. Now, at ages 49 and 52, they meet again to the settle the score. You could write a book about each man's history in the sport, so for these purposes, let's just say both men are absolute legends and undeniable hall of famers. But they're also two men who the sport passed by at least 15 years ago. For Gracie, this is his first fight since a 2007 win over Kazushi Sakuraba. Subesequent to that fight, he tested positive for steroids (at that time, commissions were not yet allowed to overturn a decision based on a post fight drug test failure). He's been retired for the past 9 years. Shamrock was retired for 5 years from 2010-2015 but returned last fall to lose a fight to Kimbo Slice in Bellator.

Given each man's massive time away from the cage, picking this fight accurately is virtually impossible. Shamrock looked pretty deteriorated in his Kimbo fight, but we have not even seen Royce fight in ages, and last time we did, he was using steroids. Ken's problem as of late his been his chin, but stand-up has never been Royce's game (though I will say that at his prime that stand-up was underrated). A modern day version of their first fight would be short and fun at least, but I think we're more likely to get a modern day version of their second - widely considered one of the worst fights in UFC history.

Prediction: Ken Shamrock by decision

Kimbo Slice (5-2 MMA; 1-0 Bellator) vs. Dada 5000 (2-0 MMA; Bellator Debut)

Here it is, Kimbo vs. Dada. Or, if you want to get all technical about, that's Kevin Ferguson vs. Dhafir Harris. Kimbo you likely know. The one time streetfighting internet sensation was the major player for EliteXC, but his shocking upset loss to Seth Petruzelli there ended that hype. Since then, he's appeared in The Ultimate Fighter, gone 1-1 in the UFC, put together a somewhat dubious 7-0 pro boxing record, knocked out Ken Shamrock in Bellator last year, and turned 42 years old. Meanwhile, at 38 years old, Dada 5000 is the young lion of this double main event. He's followed in Kimbo's footsteps in a way, starting with a streetfighting career on YouTube (and proclaiming himself "The Don King of backyard brawling") before trying MMA. He went 2-0 in 2010/2011, both wins via first round stoppage. Today, the two men he beat sport a combined record of 1-16. These two men have very real beef with each other and there has been a ton of heat between them over the years. Amazingly, despite calling out Dada for having "baby nuts" at the press conference, Kimbo has come across like the more mature elder statesman here.

Anyway, this is going to be completely ridiculous. Any time Kimbo is the technically superior fighter, you've got a problem. With two wild guys, both men have a puncher's chance, but Dada's technique makes Kimbo look like Anderson Silva, so this is the *ahem* veteran's fight to lose. Just pray it is short or we may be subjected to a Kimbo vs Houston Alexander redux.

Prediction: Kimbo Slice by KO, round 1

Emanuel Newton (25-9-1 MMA; 8-3 Bellator) vs. Linton Vassell (15-5(1) MMA; 4-2 Bellator)

And from those fights we come to this - the portion of the card relevant to the MMA world in 2016. Here we have the former Bellator Light Heavyweight champion Newton vs. Linton Vassell. This is a rematch as these two fought for Newton's title in 2014, with Newton claiming a hard fought late submission win. Newton is best known for his pair of wins over King Mo, particularly his upset spinning back fist KO of the then much-hyped Mo. His win over Vassell capped off a very impressive 7 fight win streak, but since then he has lost two in a row, first dropping the title to Liam McGeary, then losing to Phil Davis. Newton is a grinding fighter with an unorthodox but effective striking game - he badly needs a win here to get back into contention. Vassell is an English fighter who came to Bellator in 2013. He quietly put together a very nice record before challenging Newton for the title. He's 1-1 since, and comes in off a decision loss to King Mo at Dynamite. Vassell is a fighter who seems to have strong potential, but he too needs the win here in order to show he can break through to that next level. With the stakes high for both men, this should be a very good fight.

Prediction: Emanuel Newton by decision

Emmanuel Sanchez (12-2 MMA; 4-1 Bellator) vs. Daniel Pineda (20-11 MMA; 0-2 Bellator)

Sanchez is something of the A side here in this fight seemingly designed to help spotlight the 25 year old fighter. A RoufusSport product, Sanchez came to Bellator in 2014 and has looked very good there, going 4-1 with his only loss coming against Pat Curran. He comes in off a win over Justin Lawrence. Pineda is a very active fighter with 9 years as a pro in many organizations, including the UFC. He's 0-2 in Bellator, but those fights were early in Bellator's run. Lately, he's been fighting exclusively in Legacy FC, where he is on a 3 fight win streak, including a submission win over Leonard Garcia. While Sanchez may be the more known fighter for Bellator fans, Pineda is absolutely a possible spoiler here. He has a strong jiu jitsu game, which he may be able to implement. Momentum is with Sanchez, and I like his odds, but this is a very close fight.

Prediction: Emmanuel Sanchez by decision

Melvin Guillard (32-15-2(2) MMA; 0-1 Bellator) vs. Derek Campos (15-6 MMA; 4-4 Bellator)

This one is truly make or break time for the Young Assassin. With his fast hands, KO power, and brash personality, Guillard has developed a big fan base over his 13+ year MMA career. But recent years have been marked more by controversy and disappointment than success. After his 2014 release from the UFC, he had a terribly turbulent run in WSOF (remembered more for his missing weight and fights with management than his 1-1 record), and then made his Bellator debut last summer. Bellator made a big deal out of that debut, putting a lot of promotional hype behind Guillard, but it didn't pay off as he lost a decision to Brandon Girtz. It's been almost 5 years since Guillard found himself on a win streak, and another high profile loss here will be tough to recover from. Campos started his Bellator career well, making it to the semifinals of the Season 10 Lightweight tournament, but he's currently on a 1-3 run. All 3 losses are to tough opponents (Michael Chandler, Patricky Pitbull, Brandon Girtz), but the last two have also been rather significant blowouts. Campos was at one time a pretty well regarded up and comer, but he's rather removed from that status today. Like Pineda above him, he's a real spoiler possibility here, but I like Guillard's chances of catching him early, and given both Guillard's power and Campos's chin, that won't end well for Campos.

Prediction: Melvin Guillard, KO, R1

Join us Friday night, here at Bloody Elbow for live coverage of Bellator: Shamrock vs. Gracie.

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