Bellator 47 preview and predictions for 'Curran vs Mann' on July 23

Photo via www.bellator.com

Bellator Fighting Championships will make its Canadian debut this Saturday night (July 23, 2011) at the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, live on MTV2.

The main card will air live on the basic cable network, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Bellator 47 will be the continuation of the promotion's "Summer Series" eight-man featherweight tournament, which has now been whittled down to a field of four. In semifinal action, season two lightweight tournament winner Pat Curran will battle British standout Ronnie Mann, while former Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro takes on Argentinian prospect Nazareno Malegarie (20-1).

The card was supposed to include a featherweight title fight, but the Joe Warren vs. Patricio Freire ruckus was scrapped when "Pitbull" went down with an shattered hand. 

Filling out the remainder of the televised card will be former IFL standout  Chris Horodecki as he takes on tough grappling prospect Chris Saunders.

Bellator heavyweight tournament finalist Neil Grove will also be in action against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 veteran Zak Jensen.

Our complete Bellator 47 preview and predictions after the jump:

145 lbs.: Pat Curran (14-4) vs. Ronnie Mann (20-2-1)

This will be a pivotal match up and likely the most hotly contested of the night. Both Curran and Mann are young (23 and 24 years old, respectively), solid strikers and very competent grapplers. 

Curran is coming off one of 2011's finest submissions when he pulled off a Peruvian necktie against Luis Palomino in the quarterfinals. It was a surprise to many who thought he was simply a powerful striker with a decent wrestling background. If you mix in his incredible knockout of Canadian lightweight prospect Mike Ricci, he's now proven that he's dangerous everywhere.

Mann entered Bellator as one of the top featherweight prospects in the world. He was more known for his grappling ability, but he scored a very impressive knockout against Adam Schindler in his quarterfinal bout last month, too. It appears all the work he's put in with Shawn Thompkins has really started to pay off. 

Needless to say, this will be the most hotly contested fight of the night. Curran's size may be what truly sets him apart and helps him turn the corner.

Prediction: Pat Curran via decision

145 lbs.: Marlon Sandro (18-2) vs. Nazareno Malegarie (20-1)

This is another incredibly interesting fight between two very talented South Americans. Sandro is highly regarded as one of the best featherweights in the world. He certainly has the most powerful punches of any 145-pound fighter on the planet and the upstart Malegarie would be wise to do everything in his power to avoid Sandro's uppercut. Sandro did have some trouble in the quarterfinals, getting pushed to the limit against Genair da Silva.

Malegarie has really put on a show thus far in his Bellator career. He pushed Daniel Straus to the limit in his first fight with the promotion before losing a very close decision and then he dipped into his bag of tricks to submit Jacob DeVree with his tried and true guillotine choke his last time out.

If he plays it smart, he'll do everything in his power to take Sandro down and try to outwork the Brazilan jiu-jitsu blackbelt on the ground. Standing up is simply not an option at this point. I know it's not the smart decision, but I see something in this Malegarie kid and believe he has what it takes to pull off the upset over the tournament favorite.

Prediction: Nazareno Malegarie via decision

265 lbs.: Neil Grove (10-3-1) vs. Zak Jensen (10-6)

This wasn't bad matchmaking for a late replacement fight. Grove absolutely shredded through the inaugural Bellator heavyweight tournament with some lightning fast knockouts. His biggest issue has been his horrendous ground game.

What can he do about it though? He's British.

Jensen -- a former TUF 10 cast member -- didn't have what it takes to even earn a fight on the finale. He's pretty limited overall in his skills. And his best bet is to try to take Grove down and work a submission. If he can do that, he'll have a chance to pull off the upset. If not, Grove could massacre him in 10 seconds.

Prediction: Neil Grove via knockout in round one

155 lbs.: Chris Horodecki (17-3) vs. Chris Saunders (9-1)

Chris Horodecki was a former IFL standout. He went 2-2 in the WEC before being released from the promotion after the final show when he was submitted by Donald Cerrone. Some felt he got a raw deal. And he's been working his way to get another opportunity ever since. 

Horodecki has some pretty solid kickboxing skills and he mixes them with an adequate ground game. His opponent, Chris Saunders is highly touted for his submission skills and his grappling, but he hasn't faced anyone even close to Horodecki's level in terms of experience. He's got a huge opportunity, but this one is Horodecki's to lose. He is in top fight shape despite taking a fight on short notice.

Prediction: Chris Horodecki via technical knockout in round two

So what do you think Maniacs? Who's your pick to take the whole "Summer Series" and earn a title shot at the Bellator featherweight crown? Any upsets brewing on Saturday night?

Speak up!

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