Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Bayou State" this Friday night (May 18, 2012) at the L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The main card will air live on MTV2 and Epix HD on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event will be a Bellator season six middleweight tournament final featuring a pair of hot-headed strikers in Brazilian Maiquel Falcao and Swede Andreas Spang. Both men practically came to blows in their last staredown so this should be very interesting.
In female mixed martial arts (MMA) action, the number one and two ranked 115 pounders in the world will duke it out as Japanese submission ace Megumi Fujii takes on American Top Team's Jessica Aguilar. Lastly, heavyweights Ron Sparks and Kevin Asplund are expected to throw down in a tournament eliminator bout.
Our complete Bellator 69 preview and predictions are posted after the jump:
185 lbs.: Maiquel Falcao (30-4 1 NC) vs. Andreas Spang (8-1)
Maiquel Falcao is one of the most volatile and unpredictable middleweights in the world. He cruised through his quarterfinal bout against Norman Paraisy like a cat playing with its food, but had a much sterner test against Russian "Slava" Vasilevsky in the semifinals, controversially eeking out a decision victory. Afterwards he almost came to blows in his tournament final staredown with Spang in Cleveland.
Andreas Spang was an alternate for the Bellator middleweight tournament. A veteran of MFC and Strikeforce, the "Sweet Swede" absorbed a ton of punishment against hometown favorite Brian Rogers in the semifinals before landing a huge left hand in the second round to score a huge come-from-behind knockout victory and secure a place in the tournament finals.
Spang should have a reach and technical edge in the striking department, but Falcao is very powerful and capable of closing the distance in a hurry. Falcao also should have a major advantage on the ground against the European striker. If he can close the distance, land with power on the inside and put Spang on his back, he should come away with a victory.
Final Prediction: Maiquel Falcao via submission in round one
170 lbs.: David Rickels (10-0) vs. Karl Amoussou (14-4-2)
David Rickels has really blossomed under the Bellator banner. "The Caveman" has gone 4-0 in the promotion with all four fights being stoppages but none were more impressive than his 22 second demolition of Jordan Smith in the quarterfinals of the season six welterweight tournament a month and a half ago. Rickels is hoping to keep the momentum rolling, but he's got a very stern test ahead of him.
Karl Amoussou originally signed with Bellator as a middleweight but after controversially coming up short against Sam Alvey, he made the cut to 170 pounds and he has looked incredible ever since. He crushed Jesus Martinez with a first round TKO and then brutalized Chris Lozano, dropping the Greg Jackson product and then finishing him with a rear naked choke on the ground after scoring a beautiful sweep.
Rickels is incredibly game both standing and on the feet, but I've a feeling that he's going to be physically overwhelmed by the bigger, stronger Amoussou, who just looked like a worldbeater ever since dropping down to 170 pounds.
Final Prediction: Karl Amoussou via TKO in round two
115 lbs.: Megumi Fujii (22-1) vs. Jessica Aguilar (13-4)
Megumi Fujii has widely been regarded as the greatest female mixed martial artist ever. She gained prominence in America after being offered a spot in the Bellator season three women's 115 pound tournament, where she submitted her way to the finals. In the championship match, she would lose an extremely controversial decision to Zoila Gurgel, which still currently stands as the sole blotch on her otherwise spotless record. Fujii has since won her last three fights including a first round submission at the New Year's Eve "Fight for Japan" event.
Jessica Aguilar has developed quickly into one of the world's best 115 pounders. "Jag" rode a four fight win streak into the Bellator season three tournament as well, submitting Lynn Alvarez in the quarterfinals before also dropping an extremely controversial decision to Zoila Gurgel in the semifinals, this one perhaps even more egregious than the Fujii decision. Aguilar has bounced back nicely, winning four straight including two under the Bellator banner over Carla Esparza and Lisa Ellis in 2011.
Fujii is a serious veteran of the sport and likely has the most aggressive ground game of any female below 135 pounds. Aguilar is an accomplished grappler herself but I don't see her doing anything other than playing defense if the fight goes to the canvas. Look for Aguilar to try to keep the fight standing against Fujii and work her seriously improved stand-up game, which has really come full circle in her last four fights. Aguilar doesn't have knockout power, but she can definitely outpoint the 38 year old for up to three rounds if she can keep it on the feet.
Final Predicition: Jessica Aguilar via decision
265 lbs.: Ron Sparks (8-1) vs. Kevin Asplund (15-1)
Ron Sparks is a big heavyweight powerhouse out of Kentucky. "The Monster" cruised to an 8-0 record which included a trio of first round stoppages under the Bellator banner, impressively knocking out Mark Holata in the Bellator season five heavyweight quarterfinals. Unfortunately, he ran into a big left hand counter from Eric Prindle which handed him his first professional defeat and he's eyeing another crack at a Bellator tournament.
Kevin Asplund lost his first career MMA bout in 2002 but hasn't looked back since. After a five year layoff, "Concrete" returned to action in 2009 and has been a one-man wrecking machine, winning all 13 bouts since his return which includes 11 stoppages. The Minnesota veteran fighter is hoping to get a crack at the next heavyweight tournament if he can get past Sparks.
Both Sparks and Asplund have knockout power, but in my opinion, it's going to be Asplund's ground game which will decide this fight. As long as he avoids getting cracked on the chin by Spark's power, I feel he can take "The Monster" down and work for submissions. Sparks is pretty limited on the canvas and if Asplund can put him there, he's got a terrific chance of winning this bout.
Final Prediction: Kevin Asplund via submission in round two