Bellator MMA's Season 10 marches on this Friday night (March 21, 2014) live from Kansas Star Casino in Wichita, Kansas.
Bellator 113 "Prelims" under card mixed martial arts (MMA) matches will stream online on SpikeTV.com, beginning at 7 p.m ET, followed by the televised main card starting at 9 p.m ET on Spike TV.
In the main event, interim Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton will attempt to unite the Bellator 205-pound belt against reigning champion Attila Vegh. Newton is riding a wave of momentum into Friday's match against Vegh, having won four in a row, including a pair of decisive wins over former Strikeforce 205-pound kingpin Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal.
The big question is how much Newton's recent momentum will help him against Vegh? The Slovakian-born Hungarian hasn't lost since 2010, and is currently the owner of an impressive nine-fight unbeaten streak, including a 2012 split decision victory over Newton at Bellator 72.
In addition, Bellator 113 marks the opening round of the eight man, Season 10 Lightweight tournament.
Check out our full preview and predictions below.
205-pound title fight: Attila Vegh vs. Emanuel Newton
This is the classic case of a rematch where looking at the result of the fighters' first encounter only tells part of the story.
If you wanted to predict the winner of Friday's light heavyweight title unification match between Vegh and Newton by looking at the result of their initial meeting at Bellator 72, you'd see Vegh emerged the victor thanks to a split decision. That might lead the rash among you to surmise"Pumukli" has the edge going into Bellator 113.
However, a viewing of the 2012 "Summer Series" light tournament semifinal between Vegh and Newton paints a different picture (up now on SpikeTV.com).
Vegh, who comes from a kempo karate background, did a good job managing distance against Newton and landed some crisp counter strikes. The problem was, he looked rather tentative and failed to capitalize on moments where he looked to have Newton in danger.
In contrast, "The Hardcore Kid" took the fight to Vegh. The greco-roman specialist charged at Vegh with abandon, throwing punches and kicks in an attempt to work in close and initiate the clinch.
Although neither man had a sustained advantage during the fight, it sure looked to me like the more aggressive Newton was clearly the winner of rounds one and two. There's also an argument to be made he should have taken the nod in the third as well.
What makes the complexion of Vegh/Newton's first go-round particularly ominous for the incumbent champ is that the events of the past year should only serve to give Newton more confidence. Even worse, the will likely make Vegh more gun shy.
Newton rebounded from the loss to Vegh in a big way and went on to have a perfect year in 2013. He went 4-0 inside the Bellator cage, and on two separate occasions, thoroughly outclassed former Strikeforce 205-pound champ "King Mo," including a spinning backfist knockout that will live on in highlight reels for as long Bellator remains in business.
Vegh, on the other hand, is coming off an almost 13-month layoff after his February, 2013 unanimous decision win over Christian M'Pumbu. Ring rust is almost certain to be a factor for him heading into Friday night.
With that in mind, I think this fight is Newton's to lose. Given how both men match up, it's going to be close once again, but this time around Newton's continued pressure and improved confidence in his standup will make the difference against Vegh, who will likely take a couple rounds to get into his rhythm.
I don't see Newton finishing Vegh, but I think he's going to do enough to walk out of Wichita the undisputed Bellator light heavyweight champ.
Final prediction: Emanuel Newton via unanimous decision
155-pound tournament quarterfinal: David "The Caveman" Rickels vs. Patricky "Pitbull" Freire
In a battle of nicknames, "Caveman" wins hands down. Being a professional fighter and going by the nickname "Pitbull," or getting a tattoo of a pit bull anywhere on your upper body, is as cliche as it gets. Cavemen, on the other hand, will never not be amusing.
What's more, that time Rickels walked to the cage looking like an extra from the live action "Flintstones" remake while being accompanied by a giant dinosaur was far more entertaining than anything I've ever seen out of the elder of the two Pitbull brothers.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian, I think gimmick-quality and entertainment value aren't the only advantages Rickels has heading into this fight.
Pitbull is just 2-4 over his last six fights, and he's never really looked as impressive as his brother Patricio. Momentum is most definitely not on his side in this one.
In contrast, Rickels looked very good last year, notching up four wins. Sure he lost by way of a "blink and you missed it" knockout at the hands of then-lightweight champ Michael Chandler, but there's no shame in losing to a fighter the caliber of Chandler.
Rickels isn't the most technically gifted fighter in the world, but what he lacks in technique he makes up for in grit and determination. He's not as fun to watch as a Diego Sanchez, but he brings a similar work ethic to his matches that often enables him to beat fighters who are more skilled on paper.
Look for Rickels to make this fight ugly and take Pitbull out of his comfort zone early. I don't see a finish in this one, but Rickels should take a fairly one-sided decision.
Final prediction: David Rickels via unanimous decision.
155-pound tournament quarterfinal: Marcin Held vs. Rodrigo Cavalheiro
In the immortal words of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White on countless episodes of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), what we have here is a classic case of striker vs. grappler.
Held is a decorated grappler who has found a modicum of success in Bellator thus far, having gone 5-2 in the promotion.
Meanwhile, the Bellator newcomer Cavalheiro is a dangerous knockout artist who has won his past eight bouts via knockout or TKO.
As long as the Brazilian can keep it standing, one would think he would have a marked advantage.
However, as is so often the case in these types of match-ups, I'm going to have to give the edge to the grappler. Look for Held to pressure Cavalheiro with takedown attempts. It may take awhile for him to get the Brazlian to the mat, but once he does, expect Held to dominate.
Final prediction: Marcin Held via second round submission
155-pound tournament quarterfinal: Tim Welch vs. Derek Campos
Welch was inserted into this fight as a last minute replacement after UFC veteran Terry Etim went down with an ACL injury. "Cheapshot" was a cast member on Bellator's short lived reality show "Fight Master" and didn't exactly light the world on fire with his performance on the show, losing decisively to Nick Barnes.
Campos is 2-1 in Bellator competition, and has wins in his last two outings. Not only does Campos have the edge in experience over Welch, but he's also a more well rounded fighter.
You know how announcers Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith are always pushing the idea we see lots of finishes inside the Bellator cage? Something tells me they'll be beating on that drum yet again after this fight.
Final prediction: Derek Campos via first round technical knockout
That's all for now.
Be sure to check us out Friday night (March 21, 2014) for Bellator 113 results, play by play, and LIVE fight coverage for "Vegh vs. Newton" right here on MMAMania.com.
See you then!