MMAmania's Brian Hemminger previews and provides his predictions for Friday night's Bellator 75 event which features the season seven heavyweight tournament quarterfinals.
Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Hoosier State" this Friday night (Oct. 5, 2012) at the Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, Indiana.
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 75 will be a heavyweight fight that has been a long time coming between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos. Both men have been mired in controversy with prior bouts, having the infamous no contest in the heavyweight tournament finale and then having a pair of rematches cancelled at the last minute due to illness and failing to make weight. Now, after finding a nutritionist for Santos, the fight will hopefully be on for good this Saturday.
Also on the card, former Strikeforce standout Brett Rogers looks to continue his comeback trail against Alexander Volkov in a heavyweight tournament quarterfinal bout while former light heavyweight tournament finalist Richard Hale moves up a division to take on UFC veteran Mike Wessel.
Lastly, exiled UFC fighter Vinicius Quieroz looks to redeem himself against powerful American Mark Holata.
Our complete Bellator 75 preview and predictions are posted below:
265 lbs.: Thiago Santos (10-1) 1 no contest vs. Eric Prindle (7-2) 1 no contest
Thiago Santos has looked scary at times in his Bellator career, showcasing solid striking and grappling against Josh Burns and and Neil Grove respectively. The "Big Monster" has some solid well-rounded skills but it was his weight that was the most pressing issue the last time Bellator tried to work with him, missing the heavyweight limit and being disqualified from the the tournament.
Eric Prindle is a huge heavyweight and possesses some serious knockout power, but his ground game has left something to be desired. After winning the last tournament, he was taken down while throwing his first strike against champion Cole Konrad and then finished via Kimura on the ground.
Prindle has a puncher's chance, but if this fight goes to the ground, he's in big, big trouble. Simple as that. Santos has a huge edge on the canvas and will be looking to ride that advantage to victory.
Final Prediction: Thiago Santos via submission in round one
265 lbs.: Brett Rogers (12-4) 1 no contest vs. Alexander Volkov 16-3
Brett Rogers burst onto the Strikeforce heavyweight scene after some thundering performances in the cage including a first round destruction of Andrei Arlovski and nearly shocking the world against Fedor Emelianko. He's had trouble coming to grips with the string of losses in Strikeforce that saw him on the outside looking in the promotion but he's been reenergized since signing with the promotion.
Alexander Volkov is a talented young Russian fighter who enters this tournament riding an impressive seven fight winning streak which includes a stoppage over former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez. Volkov is long and lanky at 6'7 and he's hoping to present some serious problems to the American.
Volkov has not been the best at dealing with constant pressure. Also, Rogers has not looked like the same fighter in recent bouts. "The Grim" has lacked that killer instinct that made him one of the heavyweight favorites but he'll be hoping to channel his former self on Friday.
Final Prediction: Brett Rogers via TKO in round one
265 lbs.: Richard Hale (19-4-1) vs. Mike Wessel (12-4)
Richard Hale was one of Bellator's most successful light heavyweights but medical issues prevented him from competing in this past summer's 205 pound tournament. Instead, Hale will fight at heavyweight because he knows his opponents, while physically larger, lack his athleticism and speed.
Mike Wessel is an extremely scrappy UFC veteran. He pulled off a shocker in his last bout, defeating prospect Ryan Martinez via unanimous decision to earn a place in the field. Wessel is not really great at anything but he can adapt to any opponent due to being semi-well-rounded
This fight will all be about Hale being aggressive and finding a home for the jab. If he hurts Wessel, Wessel will be in big trouble as Hale has massive killer instincts.
Final Prediction: Richard Hale via knockout in round one
265 lbs.: Vinicius Queiroz (5-2) vs. Mark Holata (12-3)
Vinicius Queiroz earned a spot in Bellator after flaming out in the UFC against Rob Broughton. In that bout, Queiroz was smothered with wrestling and submission attempts. He was also busted for performance enhancing drugs in his post-fight screening and was subsequently released from the promotion. He'll be looking to redeem himself on Friday.
Mark Holata has a "finish or be finished" mentality, winning by dominating first round stoppage in all of his Bellator victories but also losing via knockout to Ron Sparks in his sole Bellator defeat. Holata is ferocious with both strikes but also with his submission attempts as he pulled off a rare Achilles lock against Abe Wagner in his last bout.
Queiroz has something to prove this Friday night, but he hasn't fought since that 2010 loss in the UFC and will likely be very rusty. I feel that Holata's string of activity could be the ticket to advancing to the semifinals.
Final Prediction: Mark Holata via first round knockout