Now that Strikeforce has been bought out by Zuffa Entertainment and is under UFC ownership that leaves only Bellator Fighting Championships as the only major promotion not under Dana White's control. In only its fourth season, Bellator may not be on UFC's level quite yet as far as finances and fighters, but it has made great strides and developed some young stars. So the question is which are you watching this weekend when they go head to head on free cable television?
Bellator, which gave us the memorable inverted triangle submission by Toby Imada on Jorge Masvidal (pictured above), continues it's fourth season, first on MTV2, this Saturday night. On tap (no pun intended) is their first ever light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) tournament quarterfinals. The UFC counters with 'Fight Night 24', which features a light-heavyweight main event between Antonio Rogerio 'Minotoro' Nogueira (19-4, 5 KO's, 6 subs) and 'Mr. Wonderful' Phil Davis (8-0, 2 KO's 3 subs).
The UFC Fight Night card, which will be live on Spike TV, has some other very attractive match-ups as the co-main event is a welterweight (170 lbs.) clash between contenders Dan 'The Outlaw' Hardy (23-8, 11 KO's 4 subs) and Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson (8-3, 6 KO's, 2 subs). Also, to start out the main card, it is a rematch of what I and many considered to be the 2010 Fight of the Year, when featherweight (145 lbs.) Leonard 'Bad Boy' Garcia (15-6-1, 3 KO's 9 subs) faces off against the 'Korean Zombie' Chang Sung Jung (10-3, 2 KO's, 3 subs).
All very evenly matched fights with some intriguing twists, I'm going to go with the following; in the main event I'm picking Phil Davis to overcome Nogueira's obvious experience and utilize his superior wrestling to get a unanimous decision. Because of his superior size, strength and athleticism, I'm taking 'Rumble' Johnson to knockout Dan Hardy, especially after Carlos Condit showed it was possible in Hardy's last fight. Finally, in a narrow split decision, I'm going with the 'Korean Zombie', mainly because I think he got robbed out of the same in last year's fight.
As for Bellator, their four quarterfinal fights include a bevy of young up and comers, which they are known for cultivating and creating. One fight that does interests me though is one that features two of the best prospects on this card as Tim Carpenter (6-0, 3 subs) takes on MMA Royalty of sorts. His opponent Daniel Gracie (5-2-1, 4 subs) is a member of the first family of Mixed Martial Arts. I'm going out on a limb here and picking Carpenter to finish Gracie via strikes. That's a light limb considering he has no KO's on his record, but the Gracies are notorious for being average at best with their stand-up game.
One other name to be on the lookout for in this light-heavyweight tournament is Raphael 'Noodle' Davis (10-1, 2 KO's 7 subs). Davis had two fights in Bellator last year winning both convincingly. However his opponent D.J. 'Da Protege' Linderman (8-1, 2 KO's, 3 subs) is a former heavyweight who use to fight around 250 lbs. The winner of this fight could be the dark horse in this tourney. I'm picking Davis based on the quality of past opponents. Who are you picking in these fights? Better yet, which are you watching?