Bellator MMA continues its ninth season this Friday night (Oct. 25, 2013) live from Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
SpikeTV.com, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card starting at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV."Prelims" under card mixed martial arts (MMA) matches will stream online at
Let me be honest at the get-go here. If Bellator was in the habit of giving its cards snappy tittles like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) used to do with appellations like "Seek and Destroy," then an apt name for this card would be "Bellator 105: Slim Pickings."
That's not meant as an insult to any of the men in the current Lightweight tournament, but rather an indictment of how thin Bellator's television cards have been in the star power department as of late.
This dearth of big name match-ups, or at least title matches that grant shows a feeling of significance, is an unfortunate byproduct of Bellator putting all its eggs in the "Rampage vs. Tito" pay-per-view (PPV) basket. It's a gamble the promotion likely had to take if it hoped to draw on PPV -- a historically difficult proposition for any MMA promotion besides UFC -- but it has made Season 9 significantly less exciting than its predecessor.
We will find out if the risk was worth the reward when the financials come to light after next week's PPV event. However, if Bellator hopes to run on PPV again next season, it is going to need to figure out a way to bolster the weekly television cards that are the backbone of the company's current business model, and simultaneously allocate enough big fights to draw on PPV.
Anyway, the fighters on this Friday night's card shouldn't be held responsible for questionable booking decisions made by the promotion for which they work; therefore, without further ado, let's take a closer look at what Bellator 105 has to offer.
In the main event, Season 8 Lightweight tournament finalist Saad Awad will rematch "Ill" Will Brooks. Last winter, Awad steamrolled through the tourney field, racking up a series of emphatic knockouts before falling short against "Caveman" David Rickels in the finals. Awad hopes to redeem himself by winning Season 9 tournament, but to do so, he'll need to get through Brooks.
Brooks' only loss of his 12-fight professional career was a first round knockout at the hands of Awad at Bellator 91 in Feb. 2013. To help wash the bitter taste of that defeat out his his mouth, he will no doubt look to gain revenge against the only man to ever defeat him.
On the other side of the tournament bracket, 23-1 Alexander Sarnavskiy looks to improve his already impeccable record with a victory over Bellator veteran Ricardo Tirloni.
Check out ourpreview and predictions bellow:
155-pound semifinal match: Saad Awad vs. Will Brooks
Other than his loss against the Flintstones-fetishist Rickels back at Bellator 94, Awad has been undergoing something of a career renaissance as of late.
A pro since 2006, Awad is 7-1 over the past two years with all of those victories coming via stoppage. The Californian possesses legitimate one-punch knockout power and he's also adept at the submission game. This gives Awad a solid pathway to victory no matter where the fight ends up taking place.
Brooks has shown flashes of promise over the course of his young MMA career. However, with just a little less than three years in the sport, he's still green. This lack of experience, plus Awad's finishing ability, was the difference last time they fought at Bellator 91.
I expect the rematch to be largely a repeat of Awad and Brooks' first encounter. The only question is whether Awad ends it via submission or knockout this time.
Final Prediction: Saad Awad via first round submission
155-pound semifinal match: Ricardo Tirloni vs. Alexander Sarnavskiy
Tirloni advanced to the semifinals after defeating a very shopworn Rich Clementi at Bellator 101. The Brazilian is a pedestrian 3-3 inside the Bellator cage, which has me favoring his 24-1 opponent Sarnavskiy.
Using MMAmath, Tirloni would likely beat Sarnavskiy, since the Russian's lone loss as a professional was to Clementi. That's not going to do Tirloni much good in reality though, since we all know MMAmath is fuzzier than that 80's pornstache Gabriel Gonzaga was sporting at UFC 166 last Saturday.
Tirloni may be a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but it's "Tiger" whose record is stacked with submission victories. I'm not 100 percent sure he'll be able submit an opponent as skilled on the ground as Tirloni, but if I wasn't too scared to gamble for fear I'd end up the type of degenerate who pawns his Fruit of the Looms for money to blow on pull tabs at the corner VFW, I'd bet on the Russian to get the tap via rear-naked choke.
Final Prediction: Alexander Sarnavskiy via second round submission
What we have here is, to borrow the parlance of former WWE announcer Jim Ross, a clash between two big 'ole corn-fed hosses. Not since the glory days of Big Bossman getting it on with the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match have two Grade-A, USDA-choice Heavyweight hosses like this locked horns inside the cage.
Okay, that's not exactly true. Bellator "Prelims" matches on Spike.com are often littered with mammoth Heavyweight whales with questionable gas tanks.
That's exactly what we have here in Sparks vs. Mighty Mo. There are two potential ways this fight plays out: It's either going to end via first round knockout or turn into or an interminable three rounder that resembles the fight scene from "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's "They Live" played on a VCR set to slow motion.
It's the 38-year-old Sparks who has been on the receiving end of the first round knockout action as of late, with his past two outings inside Bellator's cage ending with him sprawled out on the mat.
Mighty Mo has proven himself susceptible to submissions in the past, but a hoss like Sparks ain't gonna be going for none o' them wacky triangle chokes. This is going to be a stand and bang affair, with Mighty Mo eventually landing a big 'ole soup bone of a right hand that ends Sparks' night early.
Final prediction: Mighty Mo via first round knockout
There is one stat that tells you all you need to know about this Middleweight match up: The 15-11 Berry has almost as many loses as the 12-1 Fadiora has fights. Given a choice between a young prospect riding a wave of momentum and a career journeyman, I'm going to favor the up-and-comer nine times out of 10. Berry has a history of wilting when he faces top competition, so with this fight we'll likely get a better idea of Fadiora's upside.
Final Prediction: Eugene Fadiora via first round submission