Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Provisions State" this Friday night (March 30, 2012) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticutt.
The main card will air live on MTV2 on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Bellator 63 features the season six welterweight tournament. While a couple original competitors have had to back out due to injury or even incarceration, there's still an intriguing tournament field.
The main event will be headlined by a welterweight quarterfinal bout between "Psycho" Karl Amoussou and Chris Lozano. Amoussou is a French judo specialist while Lozano is trying to comeback from a tough knockout loss to last year's tournament champion, Douglas Lima.
Also filling out the card, undefeated prospect David Rickels takes on Jordan Smith, who stepped in on late notice for UFC veteran Brian Foster, who failed his medical scans before the event. Muay Thai specialist and fan favorite Ben Saunders will be fighting another undefeated prospect Raul Amaya as well.
Lastly, former middleweight tournament finalist Bryan Baker drops down to 170 for the first time to battle veteran Brazilian Carlos Alexandre Pereira in what expects to be a violent way to open the main card.
Check out our complete Bellator 63 preview and predictions after the jump:170 lbs.: Karl Amoussou (13-4-2) vs. Chris Lozano (9-2)
Karl Amoussou is a powerful French judo practitioner who's been competing professionally for nearly six years now. He's fought all over the world in promotions like M-1, Strikeforce, Dream and finally now Bellator. After losing a razor close split decision to Sam Alvey in a middleweight tournament eliminator fight, Amoussou dropped down to welterweight and laid waste to Jesus Martinez to punch his ticket to this tournament.
Chris Lozano was a highly touted welterweight out of Ohio. He lost a decision to former Bellator champion Lyman Good in his tournament debut last year but returned for season five, defeating Brent Weedman in a very entertaining battle before losing to Douglas Lima. He hasn't fought since Lima, but he's made some significant changes, notably moving out to Albuquerque and training at Greg Jackson's gym full-time.
This will be an interesting battle as Amoussou should be the bigger, stronger fighter but Lozano likely has an edge in terms of speed and striking ability. Don't be surprised to see Amoussou try to take this fight to the ground where he's got some terrific ground and pound, although his dangerous elbows are off limits until the tournament finals. Footwork and timing are going to be key for Lozano if he wants to play spoiler, and I've got a nagging feeling he will.
Final Prediction: Chris Lozano via TKO in round three
170 lbs.: Raul Amaya (9-0) vs. Ben Saunders (12-4-2)
Raul Amaya has entirely been built up in Florida's Art of Fighting promotion. In fact, he's had every single fight in his entire three year career there, going 9-0 and stopping every single one of his opponents. Amaya is a powerful and well-rounded young prospect but one has to be concerned about the level of competition he's faced thus far.
Ben Saunders was a terrific prospect in the UFC showcasing terrific Muay Thai skills, but he got outwrestled en route to being cut from the promotion. He found new life in Bellator, going 3-0 in the promotion and making it to the season five tournament finals before getting stopped by Douglas Lima. "Killa B" has vowed revenge and is extremely motivated heading into this tournament.
While Amaya seems to have some pretty respectable skills, that strength of schedule is a glaring weakness and he's never faced anyone even remotely on the level of Ben Saunders. Depending on if he gets psyched out or not by the giant leap in competition, I feel Saunders is simply going to be too much for him, either with his striking or his jiu-jitsu skills.
Final Prediction: Ben Saunders via knockout in round one
170 lbs.: Jordan Smith (17-2-1) vs. David Rickels (9-0)
Jordan Smith is a very interesting case. He started out his career undefeated in his first 15 fights including impressive victories over the likes of Bristol Marunde and even a draw with current top Bellator light heavyweight Richard Hale. He was surprisingly upset while auditioning to get into The Ultimate Fighter season 11 by Brad Tavares and decided to drop down to welterweight afterwards. He recently defeated Karo Parisyan and then stepped in for Brian Foster as a late entrant into this tournament.
David Rickels is a very talented young fighter. He got off to a quick 6-0 start to his career despite not taking everything very seriously. After signing up with Bellator in 2011, he quit his partying ways and focused on his mixed martial arts career. Once in Bellator, he won back to back to back fights all by triangle choke to earn his position in the season six welterweight tournament. Despite being undersized, he's got the skill and tenacity to make up for it.
Smith prefers to keep his distance and work his kicks in the stand-up department. In doing so, he usually can force his opponents to make a mistake when they turn up the aggression and then he capitalizes. Rickels is the type of fighter who would walk right into Smith's trap, wading forward and really looking to push the pace in the stand-up department. The contrast in fighting styles and strategy should be very interesting here but I have a bad feeling that Smith's size may be too much for Rickels.
Final Prediction: Jordan Smith via decision
170 lbs.: Bryan Baker (16-3) vs. Carlos Alexandre Pereira (33-9-1)
Bryan Baker was a very talented fighter at middleweight, having made it to the finals of the season two tournament and then the semifinals of the season five tournament although a knockout loss to Vitor Vianna convinced him to drop down to 170 pounds. Baker is a very dangerous man and he fights with bad intentions so it will be interesting to see how his skill-set translates to welterweight.
Carlos Alexandre Pereira is a very experienced Brazilian veteran who's undertaking a career resurgence. After starting out 9-7, which included some tough losses to the likes of Thiago Alves and Gleison Tibau in Brazil, he's won 24 of his last 27 fights, almost all of them by some form of knockout. Overall, he's been competing professionally for over 10 years now and he's hoping that experience will pay off in this tournament.
Pereira is a very talented striker and will be looking to catch Baker like Vitor Vianna and Alexander Shlemenko did, but he's going to have also have to be wary of Baker charging forward crazily and looking for a quick knockout himself. Baker loves to brawl in the stand-up and he's also got a very nice submission game to back it up. I think Pereira will give Baker all he's got, but barring some issues with the cut down to 170, "The Beast" will be too much for him.
Final Prediction: Bryan Baker via TKO in round two
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Are you still excited for this tournament despite the fact that War Machine and Brian Foster had to back out of it? Who's your favorite to win the whole thing?