Mar. 21 Preview and Predictions
Bellator MMA comes to Lewiston, Maine, and it's time to see who the Spike.com editorial staff picks to win. Brian Dermody remains on his tear, going 19-5 on his picks thus far this season, so he's really overdue to go 0-3. Check out what they have to say, and enter your own picks on the app before you tune in!
SEASON SEVEN LIGHTWEIGHT TOURNAMENT FINAL
Dave Jansen vs. Marcin Held
Kevin Marshall (Writer): You'd think the Bellator Tournament Format would benefit quick, explosive knockout artists. Yet here we have two submission specialists facing off against each other. I expect these two to put on a clinic. Scratch that: I expect Marcin Held to put on a clinic. The guy's Jiu-Jitsu is sick, and so is his submission wrestling (they're not quite the same thing). Dave Jansen's strengths have gotten him this far, but where he excels Held is a master. Held by a second round submission.
Fred Richani (Coordinating Producer): I completely agree with Marshall. Held has mastered the devastating leg locks that are synonymous with his young career. Held is only 21-years-old and unlike other fighters his age, he's already a veteran with 17 bouts under his belt with no sign of burnout--not to mention that he's looks better each time he steps into the cage. Jansen will pose some problems early on, but Held wins by... What else? Submission.
Brian Dermody (Sr. Sports Writer): You guys don't think Jansen started training leg lock escapes about an hour after he realized who he'd be in there with? Problem is, you spend long enough thinking leg lock and before you know it you're using your free arm to tap to an Americana. That's what I think happens here. Held by Submission, but not a leg lock. So there.
Michael Roberts (Social Media Editor): If you're a fan of technical grappling and scrambles, this one is right up your alley. Both guys have shown improved striking but remain grapplers at heart. Held's submission skills are as dangerous as they come. Current lightweight champ Michael Chandler is the only guy to survive Held's infamous leg lock, as even veteran fighter Rich Clementi fell victim to the savvy grappling game of the Polish prospect. Jansen, however, has consistently displayed the ability to overcome tough positions. He's had his back taken by previous Bellator opponents with both hooks in and survived long enough to hear the bell. I'm expecting Jansen to not just hang on but to thrive in certain situations on the mat, to utilize his size advantage and to grind out a decision win, possibly even a late TKO.
NON-TOURNAMENT LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT
Ryan Martinez vs. Travis Wiuff
Roberts: You'd think with Travis Wiuff moving up from light heavyweight he'd be at a significant size disadvantage, but that's not likely to be the case given how much weigh he cut to make the 205-pound limit. The one definite with Wiuff is his game plan. He's looking to pressure you, drag you down, make it ugly, and beat you up. Ryan Martinez's stocky frame means takedowns don't come easy, as was evident in his upset win against NCAA Division I wrestling champ Mark Ellis in 2011. While a direct comparison between Ellis (who then was competing in his second MMA fight) and Wiuff (a true veteran of MMA) would be foolish, that win can't be ignored altogether. Martinez's power and Wiuff's problematic chin can't be overlooked either. A big hook drops "Diesel" in the first as Martinez gets an emphatic win.
Dermody: Little known fact I made up: With this fight, Travis Wiuff will complete his mission to fight every 200+ pound fighter who has ever lived. You're just not going to touch this guy's experience unless you're Jeremy Horn. Wait, Travis Wiuff and Jeremy Horn have never fought? How is that possible? The point is, Martinez doesn't have anything in his tool chest that Wiuff hasn't seen, and from better fighters. Several of those fighters managed to beat Wiuff, but that's more than I think Martinez will manage.
Marshall: Wiuff's going to be giving up some size to Martinez, but will have a significant advantage in big fight experience and conditioning. I expect Wiuff to be patient, then grind down Martinez en route to a Unanimous Decision.
Richani: Wiuff should take this one based on his size and experience, but Martinez is a tough guy to put away. However, Wiuff has been in about 100 fights or more in his career and at some point, burnout and father time are going to catch up with the veteran. His chin has been suspect at times, but to be fair, not many could stay conscious with the shots Attila Vegh hit him with last summer. Martinez could catch him early, but I think that's unlikely. Wiuff uses his superior wrestling to get the Unanimous Decision.
NON-TOURNAMENT WELTERWEIGHT BOUT
Marcus Davis vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf
Marshall: There is a rare phenomenon in MMA occurring here: Marcus Davis is suddenly in the midst of a career resurgence. I don't know that there's been a fighter with worse luck than Waachiim Spiritwolf, who is a waaaayyyyy better fighter than his record suggests. I think he'll give Davis a fight, but I think the Irish Hand Grenade's deeper toolbox and experience will ultimately win the day.
Roberts: If you've never seen Spiritwolf fight, you're in for a treat. He throws caution to the wind and comes to fight every time he enters the cage. The result is typically an entertaining three-round battle mostly contested on the feet, something that is right up Davis' alley. Though he entered MMA with pro boxing experience, "The Irish Hand Grenade" has actually compiled more wins via submission. That's his path to victory here. Though Davis' hands are more technical than his foe, Spiritwolf has superior power. This one can get crazy in a hurry, and my best guess is these two meet in the center and trade bombs for the better part of the opening frame before Davis scores the win with a guillotine.
Richani: This fight is going to be a barn burner. Expect both men not back down whatsoever, especially on this national stage. Spiritwolf is definitely better than his record, but Davis is the better all-around fighter with crisper technique. "The Irish Hand Grenade" continues his career comeback with a big win in his home state.
Dermody: You want to see a couple of guys just throw everything at each other? Here it is. I'm going to buck the conventional wisdom. Yeah, Spiritwolf is better than he gets credit for, and I think he proves it at Marcus Davis's expense. You don't have to tell me this is a winnable fight for Davis, my colleagues see it that way, obviously. But I think Davis's resurgence is a little overdone -- He lost to Chuck O'Neil a year and a half ago and beat one guy after that in David Bielkhenden, who's 1-5 in his last 6, going back to 2010. I think age is catching up with him and it's going to cost him tonight.