Bellator MMA continues its ninth season this Friday night (Oct. 11, 2013) live from Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.
In the main event, the heavy-hitting Patricio Freire takes on his fellow Brazilian, Fabricio Guerreiro. With a win over Guerreiro, "Pitbull" will put himself one step closer to a second crack at the Bellator featherweight title, currently held by the last man to defeat him, Pat Curran.
Standing in Freire's way will be Guerreiro, who is looking to advance to the finals of the tournament and improve his currently even record inside the Bellator cage to 2-1.
On the other side of the featherweight tourney brackets, Strikeforce alum Justin Wilcox will lock horns with Joe Taimanglo. Wilcox is coming off an up-and-down stretch (2-2-1 NC) over the past few years, but he's out to ride the momentum of his come from behind win over Akop Stepanyan at Bellator 99 into a title shot and a giant prop check with his face on it.
It won't be easy though, as to get to the finals Wilcox will need to get through the dangerous Taimanglo. The native of Guam hasn't been defeated since April of 2009 and has finished eight of his past 10 fights.
Elsewhere on the card, David Rickels makes his return to the Bellator cage following the brutal first-round knockout he suffered at the hands of lightweight champ Michael Chandler back at Bellator 97 in July, as he takes on J.J. Ambrose.
Check out our Bellator 102 preview and predictions bellow:
145 lbs. Semifinal match: Patricio "Pitbull" Freire vs. Fabricio Guerreiro
Pitbull is fresh off an absolutely devastating first-round knockout of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) vet Diego Nunes at Bellator 99. It was a vicious performance, more than worthy of his canine namesake, over a respectable fighter with plenty of big-time experience.
Guerreiro looked nowhere near as impressive in his lackluster decision victory over Desmond Green on the same card. Although the Brazilian was in control for the first two rounds, his offensive output was rather underwhelming. He gave away the third to Green thanks to a lack of urgency to finish a fight he was clearly winning.
Given the stark disparity in their two recent performances, Pitbull should make short work of Guerreiro. Both men are excellent on the ground, which leads me to believe we'll see a stand-up fight here. If Guerreiro takes a while to warm up and get his kickboxing game going like his did against Green, he's going to find himself on the wrong end of a Pitbull haymaker sooner rather than later.
Final Prediction: Pitbull via first round knockout
145 lbs. Semifinal match: Justin Wilcox vs. Joe Taimanglo
Wilcox was on the receiving end of a beatdown courtesy of opponent Akop Stepanyan at Bellator 99 before the former Strikeforce veteran battled back, secured the takedown, and locked in a fight-ending rear naked choke. The 34-year-old American came into that bout riding a two-fight losing streak, and given his advanced age, one would think his days of making great athletic strides are probably in the rear-view mirror at this point.
At 5'4", the heavily muscled Taimanglo is short for a featherweight, but he makes up for what he lacks in size with a relentless attack. He's good at making a fight ugly, nullifying his opponent's reach advantage, getting inside and landing punches in bunches.
This was the Guam-native's pathway to victory against Andrew Fisher at Bellator 99, and I see him doing the same against Wilcox here. If Wilcox proved one thing with his comeback victory over Stepanyan, it's that he's a durable workhorse with plenty of heart, but Taimanglo's high-output boxing attack will lead to him to being the aggressor for the majority of a three round affair.
Final Prediction: Taimanglo via unanimous decision
155 lbs. feature fight: David "The Caveman" Rickels vs. J.J. "Superman" Ambrose
This one should be Ambrose's to lose. "Superman" is coming into the fight considerably fresher than Rickels, who fought three times in the season eight lightweight tournament earlier this year and was knocked out cold by Chandler on July 31 at Bellator 97. Two months and change is a quick turnaround for a fighter recovering from the brain trauma concomitant to a knockout, which raises serious doubts as to what kind of shape Rickels will be showing up in.
Even if Rickles was at his best, I'm not convinced he'd beat Ambrose. While few would deny "The Caveman" is tough as nails, he's got a rather plodding style. The more technical Ambrose should be able to beat him to the punch, which will mean a long night for Rickles.
Final Prediction: Ambrose via third round rear-naked choke
205 lbs. feature fight: Aaron Rosa vs. Mikhail Zayats
Rosa is making his Bellator debut after an unsuccessful run in the UFC that saw him go 1-2. A one sided technical knockout loss to James Te Huna earned him his walking papers back in March of 2012 and he hasn't fought since.
Ring rust is going to be the deciding factor here. The Russian has competed seven times since the last time his Texan opponent stepped inside the cage. That doesn't bode well for Rosa's chances against a serial finisher like Zayats.
Final Prediction: Zayats via second round technical knockout
There you have it.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for LIVE Bellator 103 results and live play-by-play right here at MMAmania.com.