Bellator’s fourth season presses on with Bellator 36. The card, which features first-round matches in the lightweight tournament, takes place at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, La. on Saturday. The main card will air live on MTV2.

Last week, Mann Talk went 3-1 on tournament fights. Let’s keep that going as we move on to the lightweight tournament. As usual, Bellator brings the fans a diverse field featuring a former WEC champion, a former Olympian and an All-American wrestler.

Toby Imada vs. Ferrid Kheder
I applaud Bellator’s penchant for signing legitimate Olympic athletes like Ben Askren, Rick Hawn and Kheder. In a sport heavily influenced by professional wrestling, Bellator presents MMA like a sport. With that being said, Imada is getting probably the easiest first-round match up. In his last fight, Kheder looked absolutely dreadful against Hermes Franca. Imada should be able to score on the feet and use a physical and grinding game to get Kheder out of the big round cage.
Pick = Toby Imada
Film Study: Toby Imada vs. Andy Aouwer (Shoot Boxing Style)

Michael Chandler vs. Marcin Held
Two up and coming fighters face off in this first-round match. Held is only 19 years old and holds a 10-1 record as a professional. Chandler is 5-0 and finished 5th in the 157-pound division at the 2009 NCAA tournament to become an All-American. Held is clearly the more diverse fighter, but he is still developing physically. On top of that, he has not faced anyone with this level of wrestling. Look for Chandler to take a decision and develop like other Bellator wrestlers have before him.
Pick = Michael Chandler
Film Study: Michael Chandler vs. Jordan Leen (Filthy Wrestling Scramble)

Guest breakdown from Polish Prodigy Pawel Sawicki

Marcin has awesome jiu-jitsu, but his limited wrestling and striking skills frighten me. Marcin trains under Slawomir Szamota at Bastion Tychy. Szamota is one of the best BJJ guys in Poland. I don’t see Marcin being very successful in the tournament. He will be out-wrestled by his opponents, like he was out-wrestled in May 2010 at Angels of Fire by Lukasz Sajewski.

One of the Marcin’s biggest strengths is his leg-lock game, especially heel hooks. For example, at Pro Fight 5 in 2010, he crushed Jean Silva’s knee to the point that he could not walk. He is very good from his back, but he couldn’t submit Sajewski, so I doubt he can submit Chandler. But I will cheer for my countryman and of course wish him luck, because he represents jiu-jitsu just like me.

Rob McCullough vs. Patricky Freire
I fully expect McCullough to stand at range and throw a minimal number of strikes. That strategy might even be enough to score a decision here. Freire has not shown the same talent as his featherweight brother and striking is not really his game. However, it is possible that with a proper training camp he could take a big step forward here. I favor McCullough, but if Freire is active he could easily pull off the upset.
Pick = Rob McCullough
Film Study: Rob McCullough vs. Isaac DeJesus

Carey Vanier vs. Lloyd Woodard
This is the kind of fight that I despise as a fight predictor. However, as a fan, I love when Bellator puts together fights like this. Vanier looks to be improving after picking up his biggest win over Rich Clementi. At the same time, Woodward has shown some nice game on the Northwestern local circuit. I favor Vanier, because he should be able to get top position and avoid submissions. However, Woodard is still an undefeated fighter who might blossom in the tournament format.
Pick = Carey Vanier
Film Study: Carey Vanier vs. Rich Clementi

This week’s MMA sign of Apocalypse
Over the weekend, I took the girlfriend out to a fancy restaurant. The 60-year-old man wearing a Tapout rash guard and a blazer was one of the many highlights.

Want to see more coverage of a particular promotion? Take issue with any of the picks? Email me at [email protected]

9 thoughts on “Mann Talk – Bellator 36 Predictions”
  1. I really would have rather seen Marcin go against Woodard and Vanier go against Chandler in the first round. IMO they are the two best prospects in the tourney, and as you and Pawel pointed out Held’s TDD is not that good so what do you think Chandler is gonna do from the get go?

    Also did Chandler really wrestle at 197 in college or is that a typo?

  2. Ah ok. CB did have some hype coming into the game didn’t he. Still hasn’t reached that “peak” everybody thought he would though.

  3. I agree. I looked it up, they were both one-time All-Americans with a 5th place finish.

    If you look at the field, a solid wrestler matches up with any of the other fighters well. McCullough is afraid to do anything when fighting a grappler. Vanier and Woodard both like to be on top. Imada can obviously throw up a submission, but he also gives up position on the ground a lot. Patricky would be a tough match up though.

  4. Do you think Patricky is as good (or has as much upside) as his brother?

    IMO Patricio is gonna be a monster.

  5. Also Random Thought: If Chandler wins this tourney it will be three straight tournaments where and inexperienced wrester went through a field of more seasoned opposition. (Warren, Askren, Chandler)

    War wrestling

  6. Extreme ability in one grappling art almost always trumps a well-rounded game. That is why the “wait until people start training MMA at age 5” mindset is ridiculous.

    I don’t think Patricky has shown as strong a game as his brother. However, I heard recently, that he fought most of his early career with a jacked up knee that he now has fixed.

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