Poster via Bellator
MMAmania has a complete preview and predictions guide to Friday night's Bellator season seven finale which features two tournament finals including the heavyweight title bout between Richard Hale and Alexander Volkov. Who did we pick to come out on top? Find out inside.
Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Hoosier State" this Friday night (Dec. 14, 2012) at the Horseshoe 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 84 will be the season seven heavyweight tournament final between Russian striker Alexander Volkov and former light heavyweight finalist Richard Hale for the vacant heavyweight title. The belt is now on the line after champion Cole Konrad retired unexpectedly earlier this year.
Also on tap will be a lightweight tournament finale between Sportslab fighter Dave Jansen and Polish submission ace Marcin Held. Both men won a decision and scored a submission to make it to the finals.
Lastly, a rematch between female 115-pounders Felice Herrig and Patricia Vidonoc will open up the main card.
265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov (18-3) vs. Richard Hale (21-4-1)
Alexander Volkov has had a terrific run through this tournament. It all started in the quarterfinals when he broke Brett Rogers arm en route to winning a decision and then continued in the semis against UFC veteran Vinicius Quieros, who he dominated on the feet before finishing him with strikes. He'll be looking continue his torrid run with another high profile victory on the way to winning the belt.
Richard Hale had a strong showing at light heavyweight but the cut was taking a toll on him physically. He decided to test the waters as a heavyweight and the results have been phenomenal thus far. He crushed UFC veteran Mike Wessel via first round TKO and then survived the early pressure from Thiago Santos to score a late first round TKO to make it to the finals.
On the feet, both men should be pretty evenly matched. Volkov utilizes his range very effectively with jabs and can follow up with harder straight punches if the opportunity presents itself. Hale has some serious power on the feet and some technical boxing, but he also had a bad tendency of getting hit hard by opponents due to lack of head movement.
What could really be the deciding factor of this fight is the ground game of both men. Volkov primarily just tries to shut down his opponents defensively but he's also very easy to take down. Despite being 6'7, he's got a very wiry frame and only weight about 225 pounds. If Hale wants to put Volkov on his back and work his jiu-jitsu game or ground and pound, he probably could do it with ease. Don't be surprised if he falls back to that if Volkov is getting the better of him standing.
Final Prediction: Richard Hale via submission in round two
155 lbs.: Marcin Held (15-2) vs. Dave Jansen (19-2)
Marcin Held has looked stronger and stronger as this tournament wore on. In his first tournament appearance back in 2011, he nearly submitted current champion Michael Chandler although he was eventually submitted himself. He hasn't lost since. After showcasing his evolving stand-up against Murad Machaev in the quarterfinals en route to a decision, he scored a huge toe hold submission victory over long-time veteran Rich Clementi in the semifinals.
Dave Jansen has experienced a career resurgence with Bellator. After losing a pair of bouts in the WEC, he's won six straight now under the Bellator banner. He scored a solid guillotine choke submission over Magomed Saadulaev in the quarterfinals and then got a bit lucky with the judges, defeating Ricardo Tirloni via controversial split decision to advance to the finals.
Regardless of the way Jansen got here, he's actually the favorite in the finals. He's got more experience and is a bit more well-rounded than Held. Jansen has much more power on the feet and is crafty enough to avoid Held's leg locks. If Held can't sweep or submit Jansen, he's going to have a rough time of things and Jansen's solid wrestling base should be enough to help put him over the top on Friday night. He might even just use his wrestling in reverse and try to outstrike Held over the course of three rounds.
Final Prediction: Dave Jansen via decision
115 lbs.: Felice Herrig (7-4) vs. Patricia Vidonic (7-3)
This fight would have been a much more interesting rematch between former teammates Herrig and Michele Gutierrez, but Gutierrez dropped out less than a month ago for undisclosed reasons. Instead, we'll get a rematch of an XFC fight from earlier this year which left much to be desired.
In that bout, Herrig simply outgrappled Vidonic and kind of laid and prayed her way to victory, winning a pretty boring unanimous decision. She can easily win the exact same way this time around although hopefully she mixes it up a bit since this fight will be giving her significant exposure.
Final Prediction: Felice Herrig via decision