Bellator Fighting Championships will head to the great north this Saturday night (November 12, 2011) at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, live on MTV2.
The main card will air live on the basic cable network, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Bellator 57 will be the conclusion of both the season five welterweight and middleweight tournaments. Squaring off in the welterweight finals will be former MFC welterweight champion Douglas Lima against UFC veteran and nasty Muay Thai stylist Ben Saunders. In the middleweight finals, Bellator season two tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko will battle Wand Fight Team's Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, Vitor Vianna. Both fights promise to be very entertaining.
Also on the card are a pair of bouts that are hoping to showcase future talent. In light heavyweight action, MFC veteran Roger Hollett takes on huge Ohio native John Hawk with a spot in the Bellator season six light heavyweight tournament on the line.
Opening the main card will be a very exciting battle as top Bellator lightweight prospect Alexandre Bezzera takes on UFC veteran and former Shark Fights champion Doug Evans.
Our complete Bellator 57 preview and predictions after the jump:
170 lbs.: Douglas Lima (20-4) vs. Ben Saunders (12-3-2)
Douglas Lima has certainly lived up to the hype. He was ranked number four on Leland Roling's 2010 welterweight prospect scouting report and after a tough quarterfinal match with Steve Carl, he destroyed Cleveland fighter Chris Lozano with one of 2011's most brutal one-punch knockouts. Lima has a terrific ground game as well, with 11 of his 20 victories coming by way of submission.
Ben Saunders has always been a fighter known for his tenacious Muay Thai skills, anyone who doubts that should look at specimen number one, Marcus Davis after eating repeated knees to the face from the clinch. "Killa B" has showcased his ground game in the Bellator tournament thus far, dominating Chris Cisneros on the canvas before finishing him off with a third round knee to the face and then displaying some of the most effective rubber guard I've ever seen against Luis Santos in his semifinal fight.
One of the key factors in this bout is the inclusion of elbows. Saunders has had to restrain himself in his last two fights but now he gets to finally unleash one of his most dangerous weapons. If Lima isn't careful, he could find his face slashed to ribbons by Saunders' Muay Thai prowess. While standing, Lima needs to avoid staying too far away or he'll eat kicks and he can't get too close or he'll eat knees and elbows. On the ground, Lima is very dangerous, but Saunders has some nasty sweeps and attacks from rubber guard. This should be a thoroughly entertaining battle.
Prediction: Ben Saunders via TKO in round three
185 lbs.: Alexander Shlemenko (42-7) vs. Vitor Vianna (12-1-1)
Alexander Shlemenko has had a terrific run in this season's Bellator middleweight tournament. He earned an invite after a complete war with Brett Cooper and then choked out kickboxer Zelg Gelesic in less than two minutes in his quarterfinal match. Strongstyle fighter Brian Rogers gave him all he could handle for just over a round but Shlemenko went to town with knees and punches to the head and body to earn a second round technical knockout and a spot in the finals.
Vitor Vianna didn't get off to a great start. Leland Rolings's number three ranked middleweight prospect's quarterfinal match against Sam Alvey was very hotly contested and he had trouble dealing with the Team Quest fighter's pressure, winning a close split decision. He made a statement, though, in the quarterfinals when he destroyed Bryan Baker in less than a minute after landing a huge overhand right that put "The Beast" on ice.
Both Vianna and Shlemenko have big power in their punches although Shlemenko is clearly the more technically sound striker. Vianna is by far the better fighter on the ground, having won two world championships in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The key will be whether or not Vianna can take this fight to the ground and how long he can hang with Shlemenko on his feet if he can't. This one literally could go either way.
Prediction: Alexander Shlemenko via decision
205 lbs.: Roger Hollett (12-3) vs. John Hawk (6-3)
This bout is expected to be a Bellator season six light heavyweight tournament qualifier match. MFC veteran Roger Hollett was originally expected to face D.J. Linderman but an injury granted John Hawk the opportunity to substitute in his place. Hawk was recently victorious at Bellator 51 in Canton with a second round technical knockout but he's likely over his head with this fight.
Hollett is very dangerous and has faced some very tough competition in the light heavyweight division in his career. The Canadian who trains out of Greg Jackson's in Albuquerque is expecting a quick finish on Saturday and I agree.
Prediction: Roger Hollett via technical knockout in round two
155 lbs.: Alexandre Bezerra (11-1) vs. Doug Evans (13-9)
Alexandre Bezerra is one of Bellator's most talented prospects. At 11-1 thus far in his young career and with his only loss being to current UFC fighter Charles Oliveira, he's got a very bright future ahead of him. Bezerra has dominated in Bellator thus far, going 3-0 with three quick finishes. Most recently, he scored a very impressive second round technical knockout against a very tough wrestler in Scott Heckman.
Doug Evans fought twice for the UFC and has routinely stepped up against some elite competition. He won and defended the Shark Fights featherweight title but he's come up short against every high level fighter he's faced. Evans possesses some decent wrestling and offensive attacks, but this is Bezerra's fight to lose. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bezerra dominate positionally with his jiu-jitsu before either scoring a TKO victory or a submission while on the ground.
Prediction: Alexandre Bezerra via submission in round one
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Are you planning on tuning in to Bellator since they switched their start time this week to 7 p.m. eastern time? Who do you see advancing to the tournament finals and earning a title shot?