Now that the PPV is no more, we can finally get to the real meat and potatoes of this great Bellator 106 fight card. Here are my main card picks for this Saturday night’s event.
Mike Richman vs Akop Stepanyan
This featherweight fight is the perfect way to start off the main card. Mike Richman has been an exciting force in Bellator. You probably know him best for posterizing Chris Horedecki, and he’s only lost in Bellator to the highly touted Russian prospects in Shamhalaev and Khasbulaev.
His opponent Akop Stepanyan looks to perform the hat trick for his Russian comrades. Unfortunately for them, Stepanyan probably won’t get it done. He has not fared as well as Richman in Bellator. The point being taken away from him in his fight against Marlon Sandro stands out as well as when he tapped against Justin Wilcox in his last fight. He did hit a nasty spinning heel-kick on Chris Saunders, but other than that he hasn’t had any other meaningful performances.
Since Mike Richman hasn’t been able/interested in submitting anyone lately, I think he’ll outstrike his competition here.
Prediction: Mike Richman by Decision
Joe Riggs vs Mike Bronzoulis
Fight Master Welterweight Final
I really enjoyed Bellator’s Fight Master. I won’t lie, I’m a huge “The Voice” fan and seeing this MMA show with the same format really was in-tune with all my reality TV interests. The contestants were great, but I really watched to intake all I could from these famous coaches.
As for the fight…
Bronzoulis won all of his fights by being the better brawler, whereas Joe Riggs got to the finals by coldly dismantling all his opponents causing his coach, Greg Jackson, to give him cheese ball compliments between rounds.
Anything that makes Greg Jackson say things like “Wow,” is good enough for me. Look for Joe Riggs to outclass, but not finish, Bronzoulis.
Prediction: Joe Riggs by Decision
Pat Curran (Champion) vs Daniel Straus
Featherweight Title Fight
Bellator’s featherweight division is fun and exciting stuff every time out. It’s all the more enjoyable when it has a legitimate top-ten brutal champion at the helm in Pat Curran. You know him from his thwacking head kick on Marlon Sandro, or his absolutely terrifying assault on an unconscious Joe Warren. Expect nothing less in this fight against Daniel Straus.
Since this is actually a rematch of a 2009 meeting at XFO 29 in which Curran knocked out Straus, there may not be more to learn here. However, it shouldn’t hinder your excitement for this fight as it won’t disappoint you.
The featherweight tournament winner, Straus, will be feisty and wild going all-in to win the grappling exchanges. However, that willingness might be his undoing. Pat Curran knows how to capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes and finish fights. Similarly to his last title defense against Shahbulat Shamhalaev, I imagine Curran being able to end this early in the first round.
Prediction: Pat Curran by KO in round 1
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs Emanuel Newton
Interim Light-Heavyweight title fight
Indicative of all Lawal fights is that he acts the part of the better fighter. He was too confident in his Strikeforce title loss against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, and he acted the same way in his first meeting with Emanuel Newton at Bellator 90.
King Mo with all his unbridled confidence, kept his hands low, head way out in front, and his body in a wrestling-ready stance even though he’s really looking to land hay-makers. Despite his form, he seemed to get the better of the few tentative striking exchanges with Newton.
Then it happened..
Emanuel “The Hardcore Kid” Newton landed one of the most fun spinning backfist KO’s since Shonie Carter’s on Matt Serra at UFC 31. With that, Newton set in motion his fighting career renaissance as not just another Bellator opponent but as an interesting character in his own right.
After Lawal lost to Feijao, he went on to wreck Roger Gracie and Lorenz Larkin. (The latter being changed to a No-Contest as Lawal failed his drug test). We’ll probably see him avenge his most emphatic career defeat. Look for King Mo to swagger around, per usual, but still be able to counter with harder shots against the awkward combos of Newton.
Prediction: Lawal By Decision
Michael Chandler (Champion) vs Eddie Alvarez
Lightweight Title Fight
If the face of Dave & Busters and the former face of Bellator’s lightweight division can recreate the endless fun of their first fight of the year candidate in 2011, then this just may be the best Bellator event in their history. If it can live up to even a shred of what seemed like endless brawling, and endless scrambling, then it still may be their best event ever. Either way, there are high expectations for this fight.
I have all the confidence that it will live up to those expectations. Michael Chandler has dominated his challengers thus far as a champion. David Rickels lasted 44 seconds. Rick Hawn lasted 2 minutes. (The Gono fight was sad and means nothing). On the other hand, Alvarez avenged his loss against Shinya Aoki and then knocked out Patricky Freire to send Freire on his losing streak. His litigation with Bellator is the only blemish on his record recently.
A prediction seems silly here. Alvarez may get dropped three or four times and still comeback to win. Or one of them could end it by knock out early. Both of them are going to bring that tenacity and champion level skill to make this a memorable fight.
Prediction: This fight will be absurdly enjoyable from start to finish. For the hell of it, a zombified Alvarez gets the comeback KO in the 5th round.
There you have it. Bellator 106 goes down on Saturday, November 2nd, at the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California.Watch it.