Bellator Fighting Championships will head the great white north this Friday night (Oct. 12, 2012) at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The main card will air live on MTV2 and Epix HD on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event of Bellator 76 will be a highly anticipated lightweight bout between former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and top Brazilian brawler Patricky Freire. The fight will be Alvarez's last under his current contract with Bellator so he's hoping to make a good impression on his available suitors outside the promotion with one last great performance.
Also on tap for the main card will be the Bellator season seven featherweight tournament quarterfinals which features eight prospects all vying for a shot at the 145 pound title and $100,000. Former tournament fighter Nazareno Malagarie battles ESPN-featured Rad Martinez while Brazilian veteran Wagnney Fabiano returns from injury to take on Russian Atop Stepanyan.
Our complete Bellator 76 preview and predictions are posted below.
155 lbs.: Eddie Alvarez (23-3) vs. Patricky Freire (10-3)
Eddie Alvarez is a man on a mission. The 28-year old was the inaugural Bellator lightweight champion and defended his belt before losing it in highlight reel fashion to current champ Michael Chandler last November. Alvarez has changed things up since then, shifting management and training and it showed in his last bout, avenging a prior loss to top-10 lightweight Shinya Aoki with vicious ground and pound. He's hoping to exit his Bellator contract in style.
Patricky Pitbull absolutely burst onto the scene in 2011, knocking out former WEC champion Rob McCullough in his promotional debut and then posterizing Toby Imada with one of the most violent knees you'll ever see. While he didn't go on to win the tournament, he made a very big impression. He was upset in the quarterfinals earlier this year, injuring his arm against Lloyd Woodard. Now he's healthy and hoping to send Alvarez out on a loss.
Alvarez will need to utilize his technique on the feet, particularly his body shots if he wants to wear Pitbull down. Freire has a knack for slowing down later in fights so that's definitely something Alvarez can take advantage of. The biggest concern for Alvarez is the fact that he gets caught in every one of his fights. Getting caught against Pitbull is the absolutely last thing he wants to do on this Earth. I've got a bad feeling he gets caught again and against a fighter as powerful and dangerous as Pitbull, he likely won't be able to recover this time.
Final Prediction: Patricky Pitbull via TKO in round two
145 lbs.: Rad Martinez (12-2) vs. Nazareno Malegarie (22-2)
Rad Martinez didn't burst onto the scene after a violent knockout, it was actually after an ESPN Outside the Lines feature about him taking care of his father. Bellator scooped him up quickly after and Martinez has utilized his wrestling and ground and pound to quickly score a pair of wins with the promotion. Now it's time to see how he holds up in the tournament format.
Nazareno Malegarie will be competing in his third Bellator tournament. He lost in the quarterfinals the first time in a "Fight of the Year" candidate against Daniel Straus. After advancing to the semifinals in his second tournament, he lost a decision to Marlon Sandro last summer. He's since picked up a pair of wins in Brazil and the Argentinian is set to make this tournament his best run yet.
The story of this fight will be Martinez's offensive wrestling versus Malegarie's fantastic submissions and grappling skills. If Martinez can posture up and drop punches on Malegarie without getting submitted, he'll at least win a decision. If Malegarie overwhelms him with his offensive ground attack, then he'll be the victor. This is an extremely interesting match-up.
Final Prediction: Rad Martinez via decision
145 lbs.: Akop Stepanyan (12-3) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (14-3)
Stepanyan surprisingly started his career 0-3. Undeterred, he's not lost since, winning 12 straight bouts and primarily finishing his opponents with his hands. Stepanyan is a very dangerous striker and will likely be trying to keep this bout on the feet.
Wagnney Fabiano was a standout in the WEC and a former IFL champion. At 37 years old, however, one must consider how much gas he's got left in the tank. Fabiano has not fought since a November 2010 loss to Joseph Benavidez in which surprisingly submitted via guillotine choke. He was supposed to fight in the last featherweight tournament but a knee injury delayed his Bellator debut. Now healthy, he's ready to attempt a run.
The biggest story of this fight has to be the long layoff for Fabiano, who's been away from fighting for nearly two years now. If he's rusty at all, despite having a huge experience advantage and strength of opponent advantage over Stepanyan, he could find himself getting knocked senseless.
Final Prediction: Akop Stepanyan via knockout in round one
145 lbs.: Mike Richman (12-1) vs. Jeremy Spoon (12-1)
Mike Richman is an absolute beast and anyone who saw his Bellator debut will have to agree. He fought former IFL and WEC fighter Chris Horodecki and absolutely brutalized him inside the first round with some of the sharpest punching combinations you'll ever see. Richman has been unstoppable since signing up with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy and he'll be looking to make a good first impression here.
Jeremy Spoon started his career 12-0 and looked like he would be a tough out but he was sidetracked earlier this year in the quarterfinals of the Bellator season six featherweight tournament when he lost a decision to eventual winner Daniel Straus. The promotion has decided to give him a second chance, but he's got a tough draw.
The key battle to watch here will be Richman's stand-up and power against Spoon's wrestling and clinch. Richman will want his space so he can work combinations and try to put Spoon's lights out while Spoon will be trying to take him down and either ground out a decision or go to work with punches and really wear him down, perhaps win via TKO or submission.
Final Prediction: Mike Richman via knockout in round two