Bellator Fighting Championships will return to one of the promotion's favorite destinations this Saturday night (August 20, 2011) at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, live on MTV2.
The main card will air live on the basic cable network, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Bellator 48 will be the grand finale of the promotion's "Summer Series" eight-man featherweight tournament, which has now down to the final two. Bellator season two lightweight tournament winner Pat Curran will battle former Sengoku featherweight champion Marlon Sandro for the right to challenge for the Bellator featherweight title as well as earn a cool $100,000.
Our complete Bellator 48 preview and predictions after the jump:
145 lbs.: Pat Curran (15-4) vs. Marlon Sandro (19-2)
After three months of hard-fought battles against a very tough field of featherweights, it all comes down to this. Pat Curran has come on strong and is brimming with confidence after scoring back-to-back impressive victories in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Curran has a solid mix of skills and is perhaps the most well-rounded featherweight fighter in all of Bellator. He's got a strong wrestling base, some nasty submission skills and excellent power in both hands as well as the explosiveness to get off the first strike.
His opponent, Marlon Sandro, is known for his incredibly heavy hands, hands that have helped him earn seven pure knockouts in his career, none of them being referee assisted stoppages. Sandro packs a lot of power, but he also has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) in case the fight is ever taken to the ground.
Look for Curran to keep a very tight defense in the stand-up and try to capitalize on the openings that Sandro creates when he dives in with his very powerful and, at times, wild strikes. The biggest difference in this fight may be wrestling, something Curran can fall back on in case he gets in trouble. If Sandro is outstruck, he's in for a world of hurt.
Final Prediction: Pat Curran via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Cole Konrad (7-0) vs. Paul Buentello (29-13)
Cole Konrad fought seven times last year, seven. Ever since winning the Bellator season three heavyweight tournament and being crowned the promotion's heavyweight champion, he's been training and improving his skills on the sidelines. It's been 10 long months since his last fight, and he's not happy about it.
Konrad has immense wrestling talent, something he used to bulldoze his way through the heavyweight tournament. He's showcased improving submissions and strikes as well, and it will be very interesting to see the leap he's made while waiting for his next fight.
Paul Buentello once challenged Andrei Arlovski for the UFC heavyweight championship, although he lost in 15 seconds. When Strikeforce needed someone to fight for their inaugural heavyweight championship belt against Alistair Overeem, they called on his as well. He would again go down. "The Headhunter" has had a rough go of it lately, but did manage to win his last fight this past December against Kerry Schall.
Buentello is a pure striker, with lacking skills in wrestling, submission, pretty much anything on the ground. He needs to keep this fight standing at all costs but he's also going to have to be careful not to over-commit to any big strikes, otherwise risking a takedown. Expect to see a showcase of Cole Konrad's improving skills, ending in an impressive finish.
Final Prediction: Cole Konrad via submission in round two
265 lbs.: Ricco Rodriguez (47-11) vs. Seth Petruzelli (13-6)
This is an intriguing match-up between two veterans of the sport who are trying to get back into relevancy. Ricco Rodriguez is a former UFC heavyweight champion who has currently won 12 straight fights dating back to 2009. Seth Petruzelli is a two-time UFC veteran who normally competes at light heavyweight but has been known to make exceptions for big fights, most notably against Kimbo Slice when he stepped up on extremely short noticed and knocked out the internet superstar in 14 seconds.
Rodriguez is an extremely gifted grappler, having been a former gold medalist at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Grappling world championships in the 'Absolute' division. He's won over half of his 47 career victories by way of submission, most recently stopping Doug Williams with a first round rear naked choke at Shark Fights 17. "Suave" possesses respectable striking skills as well, but he wants this fight to take place on the ground.
Petruzelli is an interesting study. He's won 13 fights outside of the UFC (losing his four fights with the promotion) and all but one of those fights has been a first round stoppage. He's going to have a tough time stopping Rodriguez in the first round as the former UFC champ has only been stopped twice in his 58 fight career. The biggest threat "The Silverback" will have is his power. He's been known to crush opponents quickly if he can land his big punches, but the big question is, "why he have enough space to land anything significant?"
I see Rodriguez smothering Petruzelli immediately with a clinch or takedown attempts. If the veteran of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) can win this fight, he's going to have to really earn it.
Final Prediction: Ricco Rodriguez via submission in round three
The records are not fooling you, only one of these two fighters was introduced to the media with a big press release when he was signed to Bellator and that was Rene Nazare. Nazare possesses some absolutely brutal submissions in his arsenal and he's looking to showcase them against sacrificial lamb Jaun Barrantes.
Make no bones about it, Bellator wants this to be a showcase fight for Nazare, a fighter they're really looking forward to promoting in a big way come the next lightweight tournament. The Brazilian is highly decorated in his jiu-jitsu skills, having repeatedly won gold medals at the BJJ World Cup.
Barrantes' best chance at victory is to land a lucky punch before Nazare can take him down and finish the fight.
Final Prediction: Rene Nazare via submission in round one
So what do you think, Maniacs? Who's your pick to be crowned the featherweight "Summer Series" tournament champion? Can Seth Petruzelli slay another monster? Who do you have your eyes on for this event on Saturday night?