Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Bayou State" this Friday night (May 25, 2012) at the Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, 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 heavyweight title fight between champion Cole Konrad and season five tournament winner Eric Prindle. Prindle was handed the shot at the belt after his opponent Thiago Santos, failed to make weight in the finals.
Also on the card is a Bellator season six lightweight tournament final fight between former top welterweights Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman, who have both have tremendous success since making the drop to 155 pounds.
A Bellator season six bantamweight tournament semifinal fight is also on the cards as 135-ers Hiroshi Nakamura and Luis Nogueira are set to square off. Lastly, Louisiana veteran Rich Clementi will battle Derek Campos in a feature lightweight bout to open up the main card.
Our complete Bellator 70 preview and predictions are posted after the jump:
265 lb. title: Cole Konrad (8-0) vs. Eric Prindle (7-1 1NC)
Cole Konrad nearly had his entire MMA career in 2010, winning seven fights and dominating everyone with his smothering top control. After winning the season three Bellator heavyweight tournament and claiming the title, he was left in no-man's land and only fought once in 2011. He was champing at the bit to get another fight and finally got one against former teammate Eric Prindle.
Eric Prindle was a surprise winner of the Bellator season five heavyweight tournament. After squeaking by Abe Wagner, he brutally knocked out Ron Sparks in the semifinals and after three attempts at having a clean fight against the favored Thiago Santos, he was awarded the tournament title after "Big Monster" failed to make weight. Now, finally healthy, Prindle is ready to challenge for the strap.
The most likely plan of attack for Konrad is to close the distance, grab onto Prindle and dump him on the canvas. Prindle's saving grace is if he can catch Konrad on the way in and knock him out before he is taken down. If Prindle can't score a quick knockout, he's going to be in some serious, serious trouble as Konrad is significantly stronger on the mat.
Final Prediction: Cole Konrad via submission in round one
155 lbs.: Rick Hawn (13-1) vs. Brent Weedman (20-7-1)
Rick Hawn had a successful run in the welterweight division, advancing to the finals and arguably winning the season four tournament although he would come up short controversially against Jay Heiron. After a slight knee injury, "Genghis" Hawn dropped down to 155 pounds and he's been an absolute wrecking ball, knocking out both Lloyd Woodard and Ricardo Tirloni to advance to the tournament finals.
Brent Weedman was an undersized welterweight but was consistently still putting on extremely entertaining fights at 170 pounds. He also decided to drop down to lightweight and has put on his best performances inside the Bellator cage, all despite the distraction of the birth of his first child.
Hawn has a very aggressive, constant forward-moving style and he has really learned to sit on his punches and throw with power. Weedman will likely want to try to out-kickbox Hawn, working from the outside similar to what Lyman Good attempted, although he's going to need to turn up the aggression. The biggest thing Weedman has to avoid is Hawn's powerful right hand. Weedman can take a shot, but if it connects solidly, he could be in serious trouble.
Final Prediction: Rick Hawn via decision
135 lbs.: Hiroshi Nakamura (15-5) vs. Luis Nogueira (13-2)
Hiroshi Nakamura has been a successful Japanese fighter with a strong grappling background. "Iron" Nakamura looked solid in his Bellator debut, handling the likes of talented youngster Rodrigo Lima by remaining in top control while avoiding the crafty Brazilian's submissions to earn a decision victory and advance to the semifinals.
Luis Nogueira would have been the Cinderella man of the quarterfinals if Travis Marx hadn't defeated Masakatsu Ueda as "Betao" pushed season five bantamweight finalist and former Olympian Alexis Vila to the limit, earning a decision against the powerful Cuban.
Nakamura will likely be working to score takedowns and remain on top. Nogueira displayed terrific takedown defense against Vila in the quarterfinals, but Nakamura is a better MMA grappler than Vila was. It will be very difficult to keep Nakamura off him whether it's on the ground or in the clinch. If he can thwart "Iron's" attempts to close the distance, he can pull it off.
Final Prediction: Luis Nogueira via decision
155 lbs.: Rich Clementi (42-21-1) vs. Derek Campos (9-2)
Rich Clementi is one of the most experienced lightweights on the planet. "No Love" has been battling for nearly 13 years professionally now, but his career has tapered off considerably since being released by the UFC over three years ago, including a loss to Carey Vanier at Bellator 28.
Derek Campos has quietly built up a nice resume despite being just 24 years old, having fought veterans Adam Schindler and Diego Brandao early in his career and having come out having won over 80 percent of his fights.
Clementi has the experience edge, but he's definitely on the downside of his career. He'll be a game opponent, but I feel Campos' youthful exuberance will be too much for him.
Final Prediction: Derek Campos via decision
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Konrad continue his undefeated run and steamroll through Prindle? Who do you see winning the lightweight tournament?