Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Garden State" this Friday night (May 11, 2012) at Caesar's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
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 season six featherweight tournament final bout between season four finalist Daniel Straus and "Summer Series" finalist Marlon Sandro. One will win their first tournament while the other will come up short in the finals for the second time.
There are also two potential tournament qualifier bouts on the main card as UFC veterans Carmelo Marrero and Seth Patruzelli will clash at a 230 pound catchweight while welterweight strikers Marius Zaromskis and Waachiim Spiritwolf try to settle some unfinished business from their six second 2010 no contest in Strikeforce.
Our Bellator 68 preview and predictions are after the jump.
145 lbs.: Daniel Straus (19-4) vs. Marlon Sandro (22-3)
Straus has showcased his skills considerably in the Bellator cage. The Vision MMA fighter currently sports a 5-1 Bellator record and this is his second tournament finals. He had to work a little harder to get there this season, handing Jeremy Spoon his first career loss and then halting the momentum of Mike Corey, both via decision.
Marlon Sandro came out with a vengeance this season. He's very motivated to get back his last loss to current featherweight champion Pat Curran, which occurred in the last Bellator 145 pound "Summer Series" finals via second round knockout. He crushed Roberto Vargas in the quarterfinals this season and then squeaked by Alexandre Bezerra in a lackluster affair via split decision to get here.
Straus has some seriously improved boxing and a nice quick lead left hand, but he would be much better off to either work for takedowns or enter the clinch. He's got to be the aggressor and really put some pressure on Sandro in this fight. I'd expect Sandro to want to enter the pocket and work his technical striking, head movement and his very powerful uppercuts. If he can tag Straus with those heavy hands of his, they can end a fight in a hurry. It will all be about who can impose their will in this fight. I'm expecting a very fun battle.
Final Prediction: Marlon Sandro via decision
135 lbs.: Marcos Galvao (11-5-1) vs. Travis Marx (19-3)
Marcos Galvao, after suffering two very controversial decision losses in 2011, came out a man possessed in his last Bellator season six quarterfinal fight against Ed West. He stepped up his aggression significantly, throwing big haymakers and constantly keeping the pressure on him with forward movement and even some takedowns. The judges weren't going to take it from him that time and he easily won a unanimous decision in a very entertaining scrap.
Travis Marx also pulled out all the stops, pulling off a huge upset against then-top 10 ranked Masakatsu Ueda in the tournament quarterfinals. The American utilized his powerful wrestling attack to repeatedly put the Japanese grappler on his back and he defended submissions and sweeps just enough to earn the nod from the judges.
Marx is going to have some serious issues hanging with Galvao on the feet as Galvao has some nice power standing, possesses a more diverse attack and is much more technical. If Marx wins this fight, he needs to secure takedowns and then survive being on the ground with the Nova Uniao black belt. I love Marx's Cinderella story thus far, but I feel the clock will strike midnight for him here.
Final Prediction: Marcos Galvao via decision
230 lbs.: Carmelo Marrero (14-5 1 NC) vs. Seth Petruzelli (14-6)
Carmelo Marrero is a UFC veteran, having four times competed in the promotion. He's fought at heavyweight and light heavyweight throughout his career and is coming off a decision victory over former Bellator heavyweight tournament fighter Scott Barrett last October.
Seth Petruzelli's biggest claim to fame was ending the Kimbo Slice hype with a 14 second knockout on less than 24 hours' notice but he's also a UFC veteran, having unsuccessfully fought four times there. "The Silverback" most recently crushed former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez with a first round knockout last August at Bellator 48 and is hoping to potentially earn a tournament invite with a win.
Both men have their faults, but Marrero is a pretty solid grappler who is very difficult to finish. He's never been knocked out and I have a feeling Petruzelli is going to have some issues especially if he can't score an early finish with his very powerful fists and feet. I feel Marrero will wear him down and tap him out once he slows down.
Final Prediction: Carmelo Marrero via submission in round two
170 lbs.: Marius Zaromskis (16-6 1 NC) vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf (9-9-1 1 NC)
This fight initially took place under the Strikeforce banner in 2010 but ended controversially after an inadvertent eyepoke just six seconds into the bout forced a no contest.
Zaromskis is the former Dream welterweight champion who has legitimate knockout power in his head kicks while mixing in some solid punching technique as well. Spiritwolf is a true scrapper, always willing to take on any opponent at any time. He had a very violent and bloody battle against Jaime Jara last year under the Bellator banner and it was so entertaining that the promotion made sure to televise it on the following week's programming.
This will be a battle of technician vs. brawler. If Spiritwolf can get in Zaromskis' face and take him off his game (without getting poked in the eye again), then he can win, but I doubt he can sustain that pace for three rounds without leaving a big opening to get knocked out.
Final Prediction: Marius Zaromskis via TKO in round two
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Who do you believe will earn a title shot at 145 pounds? Will Marcos Galvao get his comeuppance by earning a spot in the tournament finals? What fight are you looking forward to most?