The inaugural season of Bellator MMA on Spike gave the editorial staff an opportunity to show just how much they know about the sport with their weekly picks and predictions. And guess what? It was a freaking disaster.
Well, okay, not entirely. Everyone that participated did better than .500 on their picks, which in the NBA is good enough to clinch a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. As, like, a six seed.
Here's how the numbers panned out.
| ||Feb. 7||Feb. 14||Feb. 21||Feb. 28||Mar. 7||Mar. 21||Mar. 28||Apr. 4||Total||PCT.|
Congratulations to our Bellator MMA Season 8 Editorial Picks Champion, Brian Dermody
Making picks for this season was a challenge, and not just because of a handful of epic upsets like Emanuel Newton's knockout of Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal. Anyone who knows Mike Roberts will tell you that the guy knows his stuff. That guy is a walking encyclopedia of MMA knowledge, and yet he came in towards the bottom of the pack. Brian Dermody knows his stuff too, but he's at best the Wikipedia of MMA.
But even for the experts, it's tough to pick these fights. That's because Bellator is really, really good at scouting their fighters. Where so many other promotions sit on their hands waiting for talent to show themselves, Bellator goes throughout the country and all over the world to find the hottest prospects. Just look at how many great Russian fighters we saw this season. Guys like Alexander Shlemenko, Frodo Khasbulaev, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, to name a few. You'll probably see a lot of people make the claim over the next year that there's been a resurgence of Russian MMA. But the truth is the talent and the scene over there is strong if you're just willing to look. Bellator is, and it's resulted in the development of exciting new stars and the most consistently entertaining fight cards in MMA.
So here's to a great season and a noble effort from the editorial staff. We're as eager as you are for the Summer Series, which this year will feature four-man tournaments in the Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, and Bantamweight divisions.
In the meantime, we're going to eat a little crow as we admit to the picks we were so sure of that didn't work out the way we thought. February 21 was not our night.
Kevin Marshall, Writer – 2/21 Jacob Noe over Mikhail Zayats
Who am I, Putin? I don't know this Zayats character. I've never even been to Russia. Okay, okay, he was obviously an impressive fighter and I knew something of his ability, but I honestly thought that Noe was an impressive guy with a deep, varied game that could threaten from any position. I mean the guy was on a nine fight win streak, for crying out loud. But yeah, lesson learned: the Russians are coming to destroy us all and we underestimate them at our own peril. WOLVERIIIIIINES!
Fred Richani, Coordinating Producer - 2/21 Rad Martinez over Shabulat Shamhalaev
Betting against Russian fighters in Bellator MMA is usually a bad idea and I learned that the hard way with the World Champion of Spell Check, Shabulat Shamhalaev. Sure, I had good reason for picking Rad Martinez over "The Assassin." Martinez was on a roll and has the heart of the lion. Memo to fighters: Shamhalaev's iron fist will trump any heart you have. According to my sources, Shamhalaev has heart too. It's just really, really black when he's inside the Bellator MMA cage.
Michael Roberts, Social Media Editor, 2/14 Andreas Spang over Doug Marshall
The fact is, my greatest miss wasn't Doug Marshall against Andreas Spang; it was Doug Marshall against EVERYONE. I picked against him every fight last season and he proved me quite wrong, empathically twice. I could spend the next few lines justifying my analysis of why I picked against Marshall in each of his fights and how he was stylistically and technically out-matched on paper, but all of that would be ignoring one thing: his monster right hand. The phrase "one-punch knockout power" gets foolishly tossed around a lot in MMA but make no mistake about it, Marshall has it. And one-punch KO (or in this case KD) power is the great equalizer. At the end of it all, I've never been so happy to go 0-3 in my life – mainly because Alexander Shlemenko vs. Doug Marshall is going to be an absolute blast.
Brian Dermody, Senior Sports Writer, 2/21 King Mo over Emanuel Newton
The only solace I can take in my greatest miss was that everyone else missed it too, from my colleagues here to the media, to anyone I spoke to who had an opinion. Even the oddsmakers had it as severe as Newton as an 11:1 underdog. It seemed like the only people who thought Emanuel Newton would beat King Mo were Newton and his corner. That night, anyway, that's all they needed. One spinning backfist later and Newton was on the road to a shot at Attila Vegh, and Mo was back to the drawing board. This sport sometimes, people.
Make sure you download the Bellator MMA app at http://www.appstore.com/bellatormma
and make your picks along with us as the summer season kicks off in June.