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A Battle of Joe’s – Bellator 27 Preview and Predictions

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Tomorrow night, the first title defense in Bellator’s three seasons finally goes down as featherweight champion Joe "The Hammer" Soto looks to defend his belt against the Greco-Roman wrestling beast Joe Warren.  Warren swept season two’s featherweight tournament with unanimous decision wins over Eric MarriottGeorgi Karakhanyan, and a won razor thin split decision over Patricio Freire to be crowned the season two featherweight tournament champion.  He enters the fight with Soto with a 5-1 record, and although he holds a distinct wrestling advantage over the champion, he’s not favored to win – in fact the odds on this fight are dead even.

Soto enters the fight with a perfect 9-0 record, with all but one victory coming via knockout or submission.  He dominated the first season’s featherweight tournament with a TKO win over Ben Greer, a unanimous decision win over the highly regarded Wilson Reis, and a submission win over Yahir Reyesto claim Bellator gold.  Since dominating the tournament, he’s fought twice – defeating Mike Christensen with the rarely-seen gogoplata at Tachi Palace Fights 1, and then taking out Diego Saraivain a non-title fight at Bellator 19.  Needless to say, Soto’s looked unstoppable as of recent, but he’s going to have a  his hands full with Warren, who is a tough-as-nails grinder with some nasty wrestling skills.  Outside of the WEC, this is the best featherweight fight you’ll be able to see – and for FREE!

Also on the card are the final three bantamweight tournament fights.  Travis Reddinger will take onUlysses Gomez in the co-main event, while Bryan Goldsby takes on Ed West and Nick Mamalis meetsZack Makovsky.  With the exception of Reddinger and Goldsby, the rest of these fighters are relatively new to the sport, but all posses lethal skills that should make for another exciting Bellator event.  I expect this event to be much better than Bellator 25 and Bellator 26, the little guys are usually more exciting, especially when compared to that big fat "lay n’ prayer" Cole Konrad who nearly ruined Bellator 25 (please don’t make it into the heavyweight finals).

Now, onto my picks for tomorrow’s event.

Joe Soto vs. Joe Warren for the Bellator featherweight title:

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that although Warren’s wrestling is leaps and bounds above any one of Soto’s skill-sets, Soto’s the better, more complete fighter.  Soto can finish both on the feet and on the ground, something Warren can’t seem to do.  The only way Warren wins this fight is if he sticks to his one-track game plan and clinches with Soto, and utilizes his distinct wrestling advantage to win an uninspiring decision.  Anyone who thinks Warren can’t do just that is foolish, but Soto’s one of the best fighters in that weight-class, and this is long fight.  If Soto keeps his distance and uses proper angles to keep Warren from grabbing a hold of him, I think we can see the "Hammer"pick him apart with strikes and put him away in the fourth or fifth round.  The problem with that though is Warren’s desire to get in close.  He will take punishment in order to tie up with his opponent and either hold them against the cage or slam them down onto the mat, and he can take a lot of punishment.  This is going to be Soto’s toughest fight to date, and we will truly see if the champion can live up to the title he currently holds.

My prediction - Joe Warren via decision. Prove me wrong Soto, I believe you can, but I’m not sure if you will.

Travis Reddinger vs. Ulysses Gomez:

Reddinger’s been tearing shit up through the local midwest circuit, and comes into this fight with a 14-2 record as well as some much-deserved hype.  He’s proven to be an extremely dangerous submission specialist, and has put away 8 of his 14 victories away with submissions.  He’s a tall, lanky bantamweight, which means his limbs are lethal tools that cannot be overlooked.  His opponent, the 6-1 Ulysses Gomez is also a submission savvy fighter, who trains out of Marc Laimon’s gym in Las Vegas.  Needless to say, his grappling is going to be really good.  The case in a situation where it’s agrappler vs. grappler match-up usually means the fight will end up being settled on the feet, and if that’s the case, I give the advantage to Gomez.  Although Reddinger has the height and reach advantage, his stand-up isn’t polished enough to where he’ll be able to keep Gomez from getting in on the inside – and if he can’t do that, Gomez will get in close and land some powerful shots to Reddinger’s chin before getting him down and choking him out.

My prediction – Ulysses Gomez via submission.

Bryan Goldsby vs. Ed West:

Goldsby is one of MMA’s most active fighters, having fought eight time in 2008, nine times in 2009, and three times so far this year.  He’s barely above a .500 record, and has a combination of knockout losses, submission losses, and decision losses on his 12-11 record.  While most people will be quick to count him out due to that record (which Bellator somehow changed to 15-7), I give him a fairly decent chance at upsetting Ed West considering his performance against MMA veteran Jeff Curran at Bellator 14.  West meanwhile enters the fight with a 13-4 record and is currently on a five-fight win streak.  West is making his Bellator debut, but don’t expect him to get a case of the big-stage jitters, as he’s fought three times in the now-dead International Fight League against IFL notables Chris Horodecki, Erik Owings and Savant Young (he lost all three of those fights via decision btw).  This fight is really a toss-up for me, but I’m inching more towards West solely based on his ability to endure more punishment, something Goldsby has shown that he cannot do.

My prediction – Ed West via TKO.

Nick Mamalis vs. Zack Makovsky:

The achilles heel for Nick Mamalis and Zack Makovsky are submissions, and considering both are "submission fighters", I once against expect a stand-up battle.  Add the fact that both guys are tough as fuck and go after their opponent right away, and you’ve got an awesome first fight for tomorrow’s main card.  I like both of these guys a lot, and while Mamalis has more experience than his opponent, don’t expect that to hinder Makovsky’s eagerness to step up to the plate and take him out in impressive fashion.  This is the fight I’m looking forward to the most after the main event.  I expect a violent, agressive and evenly matched brawl between two of Bellator’s rising bantamweights who want to see their win streaks increased as well as their popularity.  This could easily be fight of the night, and I think it’s going to be decided on whomever connects first.

My prediction – Nick Mamalis via TKO after getting rocked early on.

That’s a wrap for the predictions, Bellator 27 airs on FOX Sports Net tomorrow night, what time I’m not sure because of my fucking retarded cable company is not showing it on the channel guide! Die Charter Communications! DIE!

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