This Saturday, Bellator Fighting Championships concludes their “Summer Series” with Bellator 48. In the main event, Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro will face off in the finals of the featherweight tournament. The winner will get the next title shot after Joe Warren defends the belt against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
Featherweight Tournament Final
Pat Curran vs. Marlon Sandro
Up until this point, Bellator’s biggest free-agent signing has been everything they could have wanted. Sandro came in as a ranked fighter who puts on exciting fights, and those facts are still true. Curran has risen to prominence in the more traditional Bellator fashion. After a surprising run through the lightweight tournament, Curran has duplicated the success in his natural weight class.
You would have to say that Curran is the underdog coming into this fight, but that is not to say that he does not have a chance to take home the victory. His biggest strength is his ability to avoid shot, stay in the pocket and counter. This will come in handy against Sandro, who has a tendency to throw looping punches when he is frustrated. Look for Curran to get his cracks in, but ultimately drop the decision because Sandro will be more active and moving forward.
Pick = Marlon Sandro
Cole Konrad vs. Paul Buentello
A lot of people seem to write off Konrad because of his physique. In the process, they seem to forget how good of a collegiate wrestler he was. The former Golden Gopher ended UFC champion Cain Velasquez‘s dream of a NCAA Division I title in 2005 and 2006.
The wrestling alone should be enough to carry him to a victory here. After all, Buentello did get throughly out-wrestled by Cheick Kongo. However, setting their still-green champion up with a fight against a former UFC title challenger is a great example of match making from Bjorn Rebney, Sam Caplan and the gang over at Bellator.
It will be interesting to see how the heavyweight tournament plays out. As of right now, the announce participants are Eric Prindle, Ron Sparks and Neil Grove. None of those guys, or any other heavyweights on the Bellator roster for that matter, seem like exciting foils for Konrad. We will have to wait and see.
Pick = Cole Konrad
Ricco Rodriguez vs. Seth Petruzelli
10 years from now, people are going to see Rodriguez in the Fight Finder and say things like, “how could someone beat Randy Couture and Andrei Arlovski, but lose to Ron Waterman and Robert Beraun?” For years people hoped that Rodriguez would get his act together and return to his top form. He finally dropped the 18-wheeler tires from his midsection, but at this point his prime is certainly in the rear-view mirror.
Rodriguez’s performance against faux-striker James McSweeney might give Petruzelli fans some hope. The former UFC champion looked old, slow and unable to finish. However, Petruzelli has never had solid takedown defense and will most likely spend his night trying to fight off his back.
Pick = Ricco Rodriguez
Juan Barrantes vs. Rene Nazare
Nazare is an interesting prospect. He has a pretty slick submission game off of his back. He needs to improve in the other areas of MMA. That might be why Bellator put him up against Barrantes. The Gracie Barra Costa Rica fighter is also mostly a grappler. Look for Nazare to flex the other aspects of his game and show that he is a better submission fighter.
Pick = Rene Nazare