Breaking the Bracket: The MIDDLEWEIGHTSBreaking the Bracket is a series previewing Season 8's tournaments and providing the author's purely speculative picks. His opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Spike or Bellator.
PREVIOUSLY ON BREAKING THE BRACKET: SEASON 8…
- The Light HeavyweightsSTATUS: NOT YET BUSTED!
I went 2-2 in the quarterfinal picks, getting it right with King Mo and Jacob Noe's KO of Seth Petruzelli. Unfortunately, Babalu took an early exit and got overwhelmed by Mikhail Zayats, and I should have known better than to underestimate Emanuel Newton. But with my pick of a Mo vs. Noe final, I'm still in the game so to speak.
- The WelterweightsSTATUS: PERFECTO!
I correctly called all four quarterfinal winners. Trust me, I'm as shocked as you are, especially considering the depth and parity in this division.
- The LightweightsSTATUS: COMPLETLY, TOTALLY BUSTED
Tiger's out of the tournament with an injury after winning his first round fight. Not that it matters because this was totally busted on the first night out..
- The FeatherweightsSTATUS: STILL IN IT TO WIN IT.
Sandro and Popo advanced, and I had Popo going to the finals and winning it all. Fingers crossed!
This year, Valentine's Day is for lovers AND for fighters! Because tonight we have not only the Bantamweight championship on the line, but also the kick-off of season eight's Middleweight Tournament.
Last week, we saw a fantastic Middleweight bout that crowned a new champion, Alexander Shlemenko. The Russian was impressive in his win and even more impressive in his post-fight interview, making him my new favorite fighter. Who will "come on with cage" at the end of this season?
Let's take a look at the field and break down the bracket:
DAN CRAMER vs. BRIAN ROGERS
Cramer is a good fighter with solid fundamentals who has really improved since arriving in Bellator. I think he's an eventual challenger and tournament winner, but I'm not sure this is his season. Especially not against the guy who is arguably the #1 seed in this tournament.Prediction
: BRIAN ROGERS
BRETT COOPER vs. NORMAN PARAISY
Paraisy is one intimidating dude, and I certainly wouldn't want to be looking out at him from the other side of the cage. Hell, I wouldn't even be comfortable seeing him from the OUTSIDE of the cage. But Cooper's got the skillset and, especially, the big fight experience to thwart him.Prediction
: BRETT COOPER
ANDREAS SPANG vs. DOUG MARSHALL
Marshall, the former WEC Light Heavyweight champion, has had a rocky transition to Middleweight but finally seems to be back on track as we saw against Kala Hose in November. Unfortunately, I think Spang is already at the level Marshall will eventually
: ANDREAS SPANG
MIKKEL PARLO vs. SULTAN ALIEV
It's a match-up of two hard-hitting, undefeated prospects. With a combined 17 fights with all but three going to decision, we're all but guaranteed an early, and exciting, finish. The difference maker will probably be Aliev's size advantage.Prediction
: SULTAN ALIEVSEMI-FINALS
BRIAN ROGERS vs. BRETT COOPER
I think Rogers will ultimately eke this one out. If Cooper decides to stand with him, which he sometimes likes to do, and may have to this time, it won't be good news for him.Prediction
: BRIAN ROGERS
ANDREAS SPANG vs. SULTAN ALIEVThis one I'm not as comfortable with. We know how good Spang is, but what about Aliev? One of the things that makes Bellator exciting is that they scout international talent and bring them in to shake things up. That's yielded great results for the cards and especially those fighters. So is Aliev the next Shlemenko? Even though I'm going with Spang, Aliev might very well spoil my bracket.Prediction
: ANDREAS SPANGFINALS
BRIAN ROGERS vs. ANDREAS SPANG
When these two met last April in the semifinals of the sixth season's Middleweight tournament, Spang shocked everyone with a epic knockout of Rogers in the second round. If this tournament plays out the way I think it will, we'll see a rematch. I don't think we'll necessarily see the same result, but I'm still picking the same winner.Prediction
: ANDREAS SPANG
And there you have it! The Bellator MMA Middleweight tournament kicks off tonight on a card headlined Eduardo Dantas defending his Bellator Middleweight Championship against his mentor, Marcos Galvão.
So, how do you
think the tournament's gonna play out? Let us know in the comments and tune in LIVE tonight at 10/9c on Spike.