Bellator 70 Preview

May 23, 2012

The memorable sixth season of Bellator Fighting Championships comes to an end this Friday. Featuring a world heavyweight title fight, the lightweight tournament finals and the second bantamweight semifinal, Bellator 70 has the ingredients to wrap things up in style. Reigning heavyweight champ Cole Konrad makes his first title defense against Season Five Heavyweight Tournament Champion Eric Prindle. Also, Brent Weedman and Rick Hawn meet in the lightweight finals in one of the most intriguing tournament matchups in Bellator history. Bellator 70 is live from New Orleans, Friday, May 25 starting with the prelims at 6:30e/3:30p on and continuing with the main card at 8/7c on MTV2 and EPIX.

When Konrad enters the cage this Friday, it will be just his second fight since winning Bellator gold in October 2010. The layoff is highly uncharacteristic for the four-time NCCA Division I All-American, who fought a whopping seven times in 2010. If his Bellator 48 performance against Paul Buentello is any indication, "The Polar Bear" has been doing everything but hibernating between fights. While many expected Konrad to take Buentello down last August, the two-time Collegiate National Wrestling Champion instead displayed much improved stand up and peppered "The Head Hunter" with a lengthy jab. Though Konrad's standup has further developed since his last outing, the Team DeathClutch product will likely not want to test it very long against Prindle. A five-time All Army Boxing Champion, Prindle has the power to change a fight in seconds, as his 40-second knockout of then unbeaten Ron Sparks last October showed. The Arizona native has a solid understanding of angles along with phenomenal timing, both which lead to crisp counters. The jury is still out on "The American Solider"'s ground game, but a camp change to CSW coupled with a dedication to grappling is helping him plug the hole. Despite the recent additions to both fighters' repertoires, this heavyweight world title fight is still a classic striker vs. grappler matchup.

Before the big boys collide, two former welterweights meet in an intriguing lightweight tournament final. Rarely do fighters dropping a weight class reestablish themselves as legit contenders the way Weedman and Hawn have. After falling short in his last two fights at welterweight, Weedman has turned things around in a big way at 155. His debut saw him pull off a rarely seen Von Flue choke against J.J. Ambrose, and he followed up the impressive submission with a stellar performance against top prospect Thiago Michel last month. The Louisville native's frame seems to suit him perfectly at lightweight; he rocked Ambrose with a vicious upkick in the quarterfinals and his lengthy jab has been a factor throughout the tournament. Hawn enters the final as one of the hottest lightweights in the game. Many questioned the once-beaten Hawn's decision to drop to 155 pounds, but two knockouts in as many fights showed this was unquestionably the right move for the Olympic judoka. He blitzed Ricardo Tirloni in the quarterfinals for a first-round KO and showed veteran composure against the energetic Lloyd Woodard in the semis. After opening with a measured pace and not getting sucked into Woodard's preferred brawling style, Hawn turned the lights off early in the second with a stout right hand. Current lightweight champion Michael Chandler awaits the winner of Hawn vs. Weedman.

In other tournament action, Luis Nogueira and Hiroshi Nakamura fight in the second bantamweight semifinal. Nakamura made his Bellator debut in the quarterfinals last month, where he handed Rodrigo Lima his first career loss. In a dominantly grappling affair, "Iron" Nakamura spent most of the fight in top position. Lima's crafty submission attempts left Nakamura playing defense for much of the fight, but the Japanese export survived and walked away with the decision for his sixth win in his last seven outings. He meets Nogueira, who's coming off an impressive performance against previous tournament finalist Alexis Vila, in the semis. "Betao" shutdown Vila in the quarterfinals, shrugging off nearly every takedown attempt from the Olympic Bronze medalist and controlling things on the feet to secure the win. The winner of this second semifinal faces Marcos Galvao in the finals.

Rounding out the main card is veteran and local favorite Rich Clementi taking on Derek Campos. With more than 60 pro fights under his belt, including nine in the UFC, Clementi is one of the most experienced competitors in the sport. He has hit a rough patch in his last few fights, posting a 2-3 record in his last five outings. While the losses have come to quality competition, including one to Shinya Aoki, Clementi is in desperate need on a win. He'll have the hometown support as well as a massive experience advantage over the 24-year-old lightweight Campos. A win for the 9-2 Campos would be the biggest of his early career.

Before the main card, you can catch the prelims live on starting at 6:30e/3:30p. The submission savvy Josh Shockley battles Louisiana native Keith Schneider in a catchweight affair at 165 pounds. The once-beaten Shockley has won his last two Bellator fights. TUF veteran Charlie Rader squares off against striker A.J. Matthews in a lightweight matchup. In their last outings, Rader had a six-fight winning streak while Matthews reigned supreme in his Bellator debut. Another TUF veteran Jeremiah Riggs returns to Bellator and faces fellow Bellator vet Kelvin Tiller in a middleweight tilt. Check out the whole Bellator 70 card.

Catch Bellator 70 prelims live at 6:30e/3:30p on
The main card is live at 8/7c on MTV2 and EPIX