The Bellator MMA machine just keeps on turning. Bellator 89 takes place this Thursday night at the Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. The card features a bamtamweight title fight as well as the first round of the season eight middleweight tournament. As always, the main card will air live on Spike TV while the undercard can been seen on Spike.com.
The token chaplain in Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday” says a poor performance “doesn’t mean that we’re specially cursed. Joy comes in the morning. There are no atheists in foxholes.” That could not be truer for The Guide. After a terrible performance on Bellator 87, last week’s card was pure redemption. The Guide went 4-1 with the only misstep coming in the Fabricio “Guerreiro” vs. Magomedrasul Khasbulaev fight. “Guerreiro” had been highly touted coming out of the Brazilian scene, but he showed that he is still a bit green and could use some more time to develop. The Guide’s Bellator season eight record now stands at 13-7.
Bellator MMA Bantamweight Title Fight
Eduardo Dantas vs. Marcos Galvao
Dantas will defend his title against Galvao in one of the most important fights, as far as rankings, in Bellator’s history. The champion is universally considered a top-ten fighter despite his recent knockout defeat outside of Bellator. Galvao has also snuck into some rankings with his recent late-career resurgence. On top of that, these two are teammates at Nova Uniao.
Dantas is the clear favorite here. While Galvao has a plodding and grappling based style, Dantas is always coming forward and throwing from every position. Even if Galvao is able to get to a clinch position, Dantas will be elbowing and striking from the inside. The younger fighter has what he needs to win this fight even if he is stuck on his back.
The champion’s recent loss is not really a factor here. Tyson Nam surprised him with a huge knockout. Galvao has never been a hard hitter. Plus, if he decides to stand and trade with Dantas, his questionable chin will probably let him down. It wasn’t that long ago when Galvao was totally laid out against Brian Bowles and Damacio Page in back-to-back WEC appearances.
Bellator MMA Middleweight Tournament
Dan Cramer vs. Brian Rogers
This season, there are a few guys like Cramer who have graduated from Bellator undercards and ended up in tournaments. For the most part, Bellator’s undercards are filled with local guys that can sell tickets or simply unheralded guys. That has changed a little bit this year, but it is still mostly true. The most shocking fact of the card is that Cramer is actually 6-1 in Bellator, and he has been fighting for the promotional regularly since 2010. With that being said, Rogers will still be his toughest opponent in the round cage.
Rogers is an extremely physical fighter who has shown he can put away solid competition. Victor O’Donnell and Vitor Vianna are never going to hold the UFC middleweight title, but they are still impressive scalps for a resume. Last season, Rogers came up short against Andreas Spang and dominating the fight early. However, he rebounded nicely with a decision victory over the underrated Dominique Steele.
Look for Rogers to avoid some of the frantic striking that Cramer is known for and then land hard counters that finish the fight.
Brett Cooper vs. Norman Paraisy
Recently Cooper has a sneaky good record. Since being upset by Waachiim Spiritwolf in 2009, he has gone 7-2, which is impressive in and of itself. It is better when you look at those two losses. He dropped a razor thin decision to Bellator champion Alenxander Shlemenko, and he was totally robbed against Steve Carl.
Paraisy is a solid fighter who can submit some lower level fighters. Cooper should have the advantage on the feet and in the wrestling department. Look for Cooper to do a little bit of everything en route to a decision victory.
Doug Marshall vs. Andreas Spang
Marshall is former heavyweight brawler who had a brush with greatness back when Zuffa purchased the WEC. Marshall had defeated TUF 1 veteran Lodune Sincaid to win the WEC light heavyweight belt before the purchase and therefore earned the right to show up Justin McElfresh and Ariel Gandulla on Versus. He throws punches with a lot of steam. When the strikes land early, the results are devastating. His last two wins took a combined 43 seconds. However, he struggles when matched against grapplers or more technical strikers.
Spang will be the better striker. His punches are much crisper and cleaner. If the “Sweet Swede” is able to avoid power shots early, he should be in the driver’s seat here. His only struggles in Bellator have come when guys have tried to wrestle him. Marshall is the type of guy who is determined to give the fans a standing show.
Sultan Aliev vs. Mikkel Parlo
Parlo is the hot young prospect here. The 22-year-old Dane made his Bellator debut last year and starched Jared Combs in the first round. It should be easy to pick him over Aliev. Parlo seems to be the better striker, and he has certainly faced the tougher competition recently. However, last week a tough Russian upset a highly touted prospect (see Eating Crow section). Lightning could strike twice here. The smart bet is still a knockout finish for the Danish prodigy.