Bellator Fighting Championships will return to "The Sunshine State" this Friday night (Nov. 9, 2012) at the Seminole Hard Rock Resort and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
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 80 will be a bantamweight contest pitting former champion Joe Warren against young gun Owen Evinger. Both men have been experiencing a rough couple fights and will be looking to get back on track, Warren in particular.
The co-feature of the evening will be a pair of tournament bouts as the Bellator season seven heavyweight and featherweight tournaments continue with the semifinals. A featherweight battle between grapplers Rad Martinez and Wagnney Fabiano should be fun while in heavyweight action, long-limbed Russian Alexander Volkov takes on Brazilian Vinicius Queiroz.
Lastly, the always exciting Brett Cooper will look to put on a barnburner against a very game Darryl Cobb in middleweight action.
Our complete Bellator 80 main card preview and predictions are posted below
135 lbs.: Joe Warren (7-3) vs. Owen Evinger (7-3)
Joe Warren was the former Bellator featherweight champion, winning the season two lightweight tournament with multiple improbable comeback victories before pulling off a huge shocker against then-unbeaten champion Joe Soto to win the title. Since then, he's experienced multiple setbacks, winning a very controversial decision against Marcos Galvao before consecutive knockout losses cost him his belt.
Owen Evinger got off to a hot start in his MMA career, but he's cooled off as of late as well, losing three of his last four, including both of his Bellator fights, in which he was featured on the preliminary card. Evinger trains out of Missouri and is primarily a submission-based grappler.
In all honesty, this is supposed to be a tune-up fight for Joe Warren to get him back on track heading into Bellator's 2013 debut on Spike. Warren had a rough go of it in his last few fights and Evinger is a major step down from Pat Curran, Marcos Galvao and Alexis Vila. Warren should dominate here as the only person to ever actually threaten him with submissions has been Bibiano Fernandes.
Final Prediction: Joe Warren via decision
145 lbs.: Wagnney Fabiano (15-3) vs. Rad Martinez (13-2)
Wagnney Fabiano is a fantastic submission artist. A former IFL champion, he had a rough go of things in the WEC, but the extended time away from the cage following his Zuffa release did the Brazilian good as he earned a first round submission victory in his last bout to advance to the season seven semifinals.
Rad Martinez has an incredible personal story which put him on the map as a fighter. Since then, however, it's been his cagefighting skills which have done all the promoting for him. After three straight wins for Bellator, he made his tournament debut against Nazareno Malegarie and won a very entertaining decision with his superior striking to advance to the semis.
Both Martinez and Fabiano are competent on the ground, but Fabiano is considerably more dangerous there due to his threat of the submission. Martinez will likely be looking to use his wrestling in reverse and keep this fight standing while Fabiano will be looking to continue to pressure Martinez, get the takedown and put him away on the canvas. Martinez will likely fend him off for a bit, but I don't see him keeping it standing for more than a round before Fabiano gets his way.
Final Prediction: Wagnney Fabiano via submission in round two
265 lbs.: Vinicius Queiroz (6-2) vs. Alexander Volkov (17-3)
Vinicius Queiroz is a dangerous fighter, showcasing speed and athleticism on the feet, but where's he's most lethal is on the ground. A positive steroid test kept him from staying in the UFC, but he bounced back in his last fight, surviving early trouble against Mark Holata to get a terrific armbar finish from his back in the first round.
Alexander Volkov is one of the more unique heavyweights in this tournament. At 6'7, he's a nightmare size match-up stylistically for anyone. Perhaps aided by a broken arm for his opponent, Volkov picked Brett Rogers apart in the quarterfinals, being the aggressor and blasting away with his length for three rounds to win a decision and advance to the finals.
Queiroz is very scary on the ground and Volkov has been stopped there so if he can take the Russian to the canvas, he'll have a good shot of finishing the fight. If he can't, however, Volkov has the reach and technique to pick him apart like a surgeon with jabs and straight punches. While Queiroz has speed on the feet, he's also prone to being hit and if Holata can hurt him, so can Volkov.
Final Prediction: Alexander Volkov via decision
185 lbs.: Brett Cooper (16-7) vs. Darryl Cobb (5-5)
Brett Cooper is an absolute monster, capable of finishing a fight at any time at any point. Don't let his seven losses fool you, he's faced some stellar competition in his career and has dished out more than his fair share of beatings. His barnburner against Alexander Shlemenko is a testament to that.
While Cobb is a very game fighter who's willing to step up and fight anyone, he's also reeling from a four fight losing streak, although all of the losses have been via submission.
Look for Cobb to receive his first knockout loss this time around.
Final Prediction: Brett Cooper via knockout in round one
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Are you excited for Friday night's Bellator event? Which fight do you feel has the most potential? Do you see any tournament winners coming out of the two semifinal bouts?