Bellator Fighting Championships will head to The Great North this Friday night (April 6, 2012) at Caesar's Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The main card will air live on MTV2 on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Headlining Bellator 64 will be a Bellator welterweight title fight as champion Ben Askren looks to defend his championship against season five welterweight tournament winner Douglas Lima. Askren is coming off a close title defense against Jay Hieron and he's hoping to continue his undefeated streak against the top prospect Lima.
Lastly, a pair of Bellator season six bantamweight tournament quarterfinals will take place as American Travis Marx battles top Japanese grappler Masakatsu Ueda and undefeated Brazilian prospect Rodrigo Lima takes on veteran Japanese scrapper Hiroshi Nakamura.
Check out our complete Bellator 64 preview and predictions after the jump:
170 lb. title: Ben Askren (9-0) vs. Douglas Lima (21-4)
Ben Askren is one of the best American wrestlers to ever transition to mixed martial arts. A former multiple time national champion and Olympian, Askren's skills quickly translated to success in MMA and he was able to dominate his competition en route to a Bellator tournament victory. He dethroned the previously unbeaten Lyman Good and has won two bouts since becoming champion including his first title defense, a hard-fought decision victory against Jay Hieron last fall.
Douglas Lima has widely been regarded as one of the best prospects in the welterweight division. He was the MFC 170 pound champion before vacating his title to sign with Bellator. He proved his "Phenom" nickname correct by coasting through the season five welterweight tournament and scoring a pair of brutal knockouts to win the $100,00 and earn his title shot.
The biggest difference maker in this fight is Ben Askren's elite wrestling. He's got a unique "Funky" style which really frustrates his opponents once he gets his hands on them and he can dominate just about anyone as long as he's in top position. Lima has much more power and technique on the feet and he's more active and aggressive with submissions on the ground, but Askren is developing nicely and he's more than powerful enough to stifle all of Lima's many offensive weapons.
Final Prediction: Ben Askren via decision
145 lbs.: Marlon Sandro (21-3) vs. Alexandre Bezerra (13-1)
Marlon Sandro has been a man possessed. The Brazilian has a reputation for his ferocious uppercuts and his dynamite in both hands and he was able to advance to the Summer Series finals last year before a stunning knockout loss at the hands of Pat Curran. He's rededicated himself since that loss and has followed it up with consecutive stoppage victories including a destruction of Roberto Vargas last month.
Alexandre Bezerra has looked extremely impressive in his stint with Bellator. The young Brazilian has stopped everyone in his path under the Bellator banner with no one making it past the second round in any of his five fights with the promotion. Bezerra finally made his tournament debut last month and looked terrific against late replacement Kenny Foster en route to a second round submission victory.
Bezerra is an extremely sharp young talent to keep an eye on for the future, but I think this is a horrible stylistic match-up for him. Sandro outclasses him badly on the feet and he's got more than enough submission and takedown defense skill to defend whatever Bezerra throws at him. The only thing I think Bezerra has going for him in this fight is his speed and youth and I just don't think it will be enough.
Final Prediction: Marlon Sandro via decision
135 lbs.: Travis Marx (18-3) 1 NC vs. Masakatsu Ueda (15-1-2)
Travis Marx was a top prospect at featherweight before finally running into some trouble against men who were a bit too big and strong for him. He started his career 15-1 before consecutive losses at the end of 2010. The Greg Jackson trained fighter dropped down to bantamweight and has seen instant results, going 2-0 with two first minute stoppages which earned him a tournament invite.
Masakatsu Ueda has long been one of the best non-Zuffa-contracted bantamweights on the planet. He's frustrated and stifled many of an opponent in his day, most notably handing Bellator season five bantamweight tournament winner Eduardo Dantas his lone career loss. Ueda has only ever tasted defeat once in his six and a half year professional career and while he's now 34 years old, he's still a force to be reckoned with in this tournament.
Marx has had issues with powerful featherweights, but he's looked really solid since dropping down. Marx's submission skills are excellent, but I doubt he is able to throw his weight around with Ueda like he's done in his recent victories. Part of me thinks Marx has what it takes to pull off a huge upset, but I can't help but side with Ueda here to grind out a decision victory.
Final Prediction: Masakatsu Ueda via decision
135 lbs.: Rodrigo Lima (10-0) vs. Hiroshi Nakamura (14-5-4)
Rodrigo Lima is one of the best young bantamweight prospects in the world. Just 20 years old, he's already compiled a 10-0 record while competing in Brazil and Bellator wisely snatched him up. Most of his victories are can crushings, but he's got some serious potential and he is always pushing for the finish throughout the fight.
His opponent, Hiroshi Nakamura, is one of the best Japanese bantamweights in the world. Don't let the 14-5 record deceive you, he's only gotten better and better with time and has only lost two of his last 17 fights over the course of the past five and a half years.
Nakamura's strength of competition, having battled top Japanese bantamweights in both Deep and Shooto over the last six years will be his biggest advantage in this fight although his lack of finishing ability could present problems. Rodrigo Lima is one of the most violent and aggressive young fighters in the world and I doubt he slows it down a notch just because he's competing on a bigger stage. While Nakamura has the experience, I can't help but be mystified by Lima's youthful exuberance and potential.
Final Prediction: Rodrigo Lima via TKO in round one
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Are you excited for this main event title fight? What's your pick for the most exciting main card bout of the evening? Will the season six tournament winner be coming out of this half of the bracket?