Bellator MMA continues its tenth season this Friday night (March 7, 2014) LIVE from WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
The Bellator 111 "Prelims" under card will stream online at Spike.com, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card starting at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV.
There all 11 total fights slated to take place in "The Sooner State."
The main event of the evening features Eduardo Dantas in a bantamweight world title defense, taking on Anthony Leone. The supporting cast features former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Lavar Johnson against Ryan Martinez and K-1 kickboxing veteran Peter Graham taking on "Mighty Mo."
That's not all.
Check out our Bellator 111: "Dantas vs. Leone" preview and predictions for the Spike TV main card:
Eduardo Dantas (15-3) vs. Anthony Leone (13-6)
This bout will mark the first title defended during Bellator's tenth season and Dantas' second defense of the strap. The former Shooto Brazil fighter will be returning to the cage for the first time since February of last year when he picked up a victory against Marcos Galvao at Bellator 89.
The 25-year-old Nova Uniao product will have his hands full with Leone, a man who Dantas claims is a tougher test than "The Baddest Man on the Planet," Joe Warren. Leone took the fight on short notice after Rafael Silva went down with an injury -- the man Leone most recently lost against at Bellator 102 -- and will be looking to take his tally to 5-1 in Bellator.
This tilt pits the grappler against the dynamic striker and in the end, Dantas has far too much explosiveness to be grounded by the play it safe-minded Leone. I believe Dantas will remind the mixed martial arts (MMA) world of his elite standing and Leone will move onto the ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) "War of Nations" event to corner his brother.
Prediction: Eduardo Dantas via technical knockout
Lavar Johnson (17-8) vs. Ryan Martinez (10-3)
Lavar Johnson was last seen inside the Octagon at UFC 157 against Brendan Schaub in a bout many would like to forget. After signing with Bellator, Johnson was booked against Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz and lost his third straight contest, narrowly avoiding a match-up against current Bellator heavyweight number one contender, Cheick Kongo.
At the age of 36, "Big's" chin is doing him no favors, and while he still holds the ability to knock anyone out at the drop of a dime, Johnson's fists will face a tough test against the chin of Mr. Ryan Martinez.
My personal favorite out of the Bellator big men, Martinez spends his time training with Roy Nelson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal. Martinez was finished late in the third round in his last appearance at Bellator 97 against Vitaly Minakov, but prior to breaking his hand, the self-proclaimed "King of the 970 Area Code" had taken the fight to the undefeated Russian -- who will face Kongo at Bellator 115.
This fight will be a bangfest and come down to the surprisingly good cardio of Martinez. While Martinez would be better served taking the fight to the ground, I look for him to test the chin of Johnson and move onto the next frame of the tournament via knockout.
Prediction: Ryan Martinez via knockout
Alexander Volkov (19-4) vs. Mark Holata (12-4)
Volkov has something to prove after being outdone by fellow countryman Minakov. The former Bellator heavyweight champ will come into his bout with Holata the heavy favorite and this is due to his ability to utilize his length to keep his opponent at bay.
"The Machine" will be fighting under Bellator's banner for the sixth time. His most notable victory of record came against Shawn Jordan in 2010, but has since experienced inconsistency, alternating between wins and losses. The American Top Team member is no slouch, but Volkov should be able to outwork the American and get back on the path to a title shot.
Prediction: Alexander Volkov via decision
Peter Graham (9-6) vs. Siala Siliga (5-2)
Peter Graham is a former K-1 Grand Prix Champion and has fought the likes of Aleksander Emelianenko and Rolles Gracie in his inconsistent MMA tenure. "The Chief" was brought into Bellator to take on Kongo in last year's tournament and fought valiantly, but ultimately lost the decision to the more diverse Kongo. He will have the speed advantage against a man who weighs nearly 300 pounds.
"The Chief" has fought Josh Barnett at Dream 13 in Yokohama, Japan, and against Semmy Schilt in K-1. At 43 years old, Siliga is more than likely making one final run at the tournament before calling it quits. Fighting out of San Bernardino, Calif., Siliga packs a powerful punch, with four out of his five victories coming by way of stoppage. He will be tested by the workrate of Graham, who demonstrated his ability to go three full rounds this past November.
But I smell an upset here, and will take Siliga by fluke knockout.
Prediction: Siala Siliga by knockout
That's a wrap for now.
Remember that MMAmania will deliver everything you need for Bellator 111, including live results, recaps and updates during and after the show this Friday night.
In addition, keep it locked right here for the official weigh-in results later this afternoon, a stream of the "Prelims" under card bouts on Friday and live blow-by-blow coverage of the entire Spike TV event.
See you tomorrow night!