Bellator 65 Predictions
Tomorrow night live from the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., it’s Bellator 65, an event headlined by Bellator world bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky defending his belt against Season Five Bantamweight Tournament winner Eduardo Dantas. Also on the card is the Season Six Featherweight Tournament semifinal between Daniel Strauss and Mike Corey, as well as the remaining Season Six bantamweight quarterfinals that pit Ed West against Marcos Galvao and Alexis Vila against Luis Nogueira.
After the jump are my predictions for the evening’s main card, which will be televised live right here on TheScore.com tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET.
Main event: Bellator world bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky vs. Eduardo Dantas
Although Makovsky, 14-2, became the the first Bellator 135-pound champion when he won the Bellator Season Three Bantamweight Tournament in October 2010, this will actually be his first title defence. The reason for that is because of Bellator’s tournament format, which means champions must fight in non-title bouts if there was no tournament winner, and since there was no 135-pound tourney in the promotion’s fourth season, Makvosky was forced to fight Chad Robichaux and Ryan Roberts in bouts without his strap on the line. He won both of those fights in impressive fashion, and now holds a six-fight win streak inside the Bellator cage, and eight victories in a row total.
Makovsky, a former NCAA Division I wrestler at Drexel University, uses his stifling wrestling chops to control opponents. But unlike Bellator world welterweight champion Ben Askren, who has finished only one of his seven Bellator fights and is often criticized for his wrestling-centric approach, Makovsky has stopped three of the six men he has fought in his fights for the Chicago-based promotion. However, he is in tough against Dantas.
Dantas, 13-2, won the Season Five Bantamweight Tournament with a unanimous decision victory over Alexis Vila and is Makovsky’s toughest test to date. The Nova Uniao products trains with the likes of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and has a similar style, as exhibited by his flying knee knockout of Wilson Reis at Bellator 52. Reis, by the way, is one of only two men to defeat Makovsky in his career.
Dantas, who is on a six-fight win streak, will need to use his unpredictable and explosive style to beat Makovsky, because the champion doesn’t make many mistakes in his fight. If Dantas is able to capitalize, however, he could end Makovsky’s night, but that’s no small task.
Prediction: Makovsky via unanimous decision.
Season Six featherweight semifinal: Daniel Strauss vs. Mike Corey
Strauss, 18-4, was a Bellator Season Four Featherweight tournament finalist, but lost to Patricio “Pitbull” and has jumped back into the foray this year in order to earn his shot at Bellator world featherweight champion Pat Curran. An accomplished high school wrestler, Strauss is 4-1 in his Bellator career, but only one of those victories was by form a stoppage as he admits he enjoys taking his opponents to the distance. And while Strauss says it takes more effort to beat a man down for 15 minutes than to finish him in just one, the fans probably won’t agree with that.
Corey, 12-2-1, was a last-minute replacement for the tourney when Wagnney Fabiano pulled out with injury, and Corey used that to his advantage when he defeated the favoured Ronnie Mann in the quarterfinals. Corey, a member of Team Curran, used his wrestling to control the Brit Mann, but against Strauss he’s going to be in tough to replicate that kind of a gameplan.
In a fight pitting two wrestlers, oftentimes the fight stays on its feet. I expect that to be the case here, but with a lot of the standup taking place along the cage. It will really come down to which man wants it more, but this will probably be a close fight that could go either way.
Prediction: Corey via split decision.
Season Six bantamweight quarterfinal: Ed West vs. Marcos Galvao
West, 17-6, is a two-time Bellator bantamweight tournament finalist, but he lost to Makovsky in the finals of the third season and to Dantas in the finals of the fifth season. The losses leave his Bellator record at a mediocre 3-2, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good fighter. And while he’s never knocked anyone out in his career, he does have nine wins by way of submission. The Superbrawl and IFL veteran is also tough to finish, as he’s only lost once in his career via a stoppage, and it was due to a cut.
Galvao, 10-5-1, should have a record better than that. His loss to former Bellator world featherweight champion Joe Warren can only be described as highway robbery, and there are many who believed he should have received the nod over Vila in his last bout. Like West, Galvao is a true veteran of the sport, having fought in the WEC, Ring of Combat, and Shooto, and while he hasn’t submitted anyone in his career, he is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And while it’s tough to end West’s night, Galvao needs to get a finish sometime, right? Well, maybe not tomorrow, but he should still have enough to win, although it certainly won’t come easy.
Prediction: Galvao via split decision.
Season Six bantamweight quarterfinal: Alexis Vila vs. Luis Nogueira
Vila, 11-1, may be 41-years old, but don’t let his age fool you, because this guy can fight. The former bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling (-48kg) for Cuba at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Ga., Vila packs a serious punch, as evidenced by his seven career knockouts, including a highlight-reel demolishing of Warren last September. With such a powerful combination of wrestling chops and striking, Vila is a tough out for anyone in the 135-pound division.
Nogueira, 12-2, is 2-1 in his Bellator career, with his lone Bellator loss coming to West. His only other career loss came to Dantas. A veteran of Shooto Brazil, Nogueira has split his victories by decision and form of stoppage, but against a guy like Vila, he’s really going to have to bring the kitchen sink into this contest if he’s going to upset Vila.
Prediction: Vila via form of knockout.