Bellator MMA returns after a two-week absence with another installment of fights this upcoming Friday night (May 2, 2014) with Bellator 118: "Warren vs. Silva."
The event takes place at Revel Atlantic City and in the main event, Joe Warren goes up against Rafael Silva for the Bellator interim bantamweight championship.
Warren was expected to meet the champion, Eduardo Dantas, but the Brazilian was sidelined with head injuries and instead, "Dudu" will battle the winner of the newly-set scrap.
Warren is currently on a three-fight winning streak since back-to-back knockout losses at the hands of Alexis Vila and Pat Curran. "Morcego" is currently riding an impressive 13-fight winning streak.
Also on the card, Anrey Koreshkov meets Sam Oropeza in the season 10 welterweight semifinal, after their original match up at Bellator 115 had to be rescheduled. The Russian is aiming for a second crack at the welterweight championship, while his opponent has six-straight victories by way of finish.
Also on the card, Marcos Galvao meets Thomas Vasquez in a bantamweight showdown and opening up the broadcast on Spike TV, Liam McGeary goes up against Mike Mucitelli.
Check out our full preview and predictions below:
Bantamweight title bout: Joe Warren vs. Rafael Silva
The self proclaimed "baddest man on the planet" has been fighting under the Bellator banner since Bellator 113, winning the featherweight championship during his four-year tenure.
His opponent "Morcego" makes his third appearance inside the Bellator cage after doing most of his damage in Brazil. But, can the Brazilian shock the world and leave with the title in New Jersey?
I don't think Warren had a chance against Dantas, but I think he can get the job done against Silva on Friday night. Nobody should discredit the Brazilian, who's unbeaten in his past 13 fights and has wins over Anthony Leone and Rodrigo Lima, but the American has been in bigger wars and he should beat the short-notice opponent quite handily.
Warren should muster his way through the Brazilian by using his grappling strengths and his wrestling en route to a ground-and-pound victory, yet his opponent does have nine submission wins under his belt. That said, the American can't hang out and take it easy down there, either.
Final prediction: Warren def. Silva via technical knockout
Welterweight semifinal bout: Andrey Koreshkov vs. Sam Oropeza
This co-main event should be all kinds of fun, as the welterweight semifinal originally set to take place at Bellator 115 will finally go down on Friday night.
If you recall, Koreshkov got beaten so badly by Ben Askren at Bellator 97, "Funky" actually got a fourth-round stoppage victory. He took a one-off fight elsewhere in Russia after that, only to come back guns blazing by destroying Nah-Son Burrell in 41 seconds at Bellator 112 earlier this year.
I won't say that Oropeza has just a puncher's chance, since "Sammy O" has four back-to-back technical knockout victories under his belt coming into this fight.This bout should be a war full of flying fists and scrambles in the fight hits the mat, but something tells me Koreshkov is going to find that chin and put away the Pennsylvanian.
He has to do it fast though, or at least keep the finish in mind, because if he gives Oropeza time to unwind and find his groove, he may get caught himself. The winner of this fight seems destined to challenge Douglas Lima for the title, even though they'll have to storm through Adam McDonough first.
My money is on the Russian, but like I said, Oropeza shouldn't be slept on.
Final prediction: Koreshkov def. Oropeza via technical knockout
Bantamweight bout: Marcos Galvao vs. Thomas Vasquez
Marcos Galvao has fought an impressive bunch in his career, although he never really won the big one. He failed to capture gold against his friend Dantas at Bellator 89 and has lost to the likes of Warren, Alexis Vila, Brian Bowles and Damacio Page.
His opponent, who holds one of the more interesting nicknames in the sport being called "The Die Hard Kidd," is a 27-year-old fighter who is currently undefeated at 7-0. Unfortunately, his victories are over guys you've probably never heard of and Galvao isn't the combatant you want to draw when making your Bellator debut.
Nevertheless, Vasquez will go toe-to-toe against the Brazilian and I think Galvao is just going to have his way with him. It's going to be an interesting fight, yet Galvao's domination will more or less come from his ground pedigree and I'll make the bold prediction that he dominates him to a three-round decision win.
I won't say it'll be a snoozer, yet there's this gut feeling that the former bantamweight title challenger is going to play it safe once he gets on top of his foe.
Final prediction: Galvao def. Vasquez via unanimous decision
Light Heavyweight bout: Liam McGeary vs. Mike Mucitelli
This battle of undefeated fighters pits England's McGeary against Mucitelli and we should be treated to a violent finish in this one. The Englishman hasn't let any of his fights go the distance, scoring three submission victories and three victories by way of knockout/technical knockout. His opponent hasn't been beaten and he's coming off a hard-fought decision victory over Ryan McCurdy last November.
McGeary has the better fight camp training him (Renzo Gracie Fight Team) and he's destined to finish this fight any way he pleases. I'm not sure you can call a 31-year-old fighter a prospect anymore, yet with a little more exposure and a few solid victories under his belt, McGeary could make a serious impact in Bellator's relatively-thin light heavyweight division.
Mucitelli will be tough to put away, and with his ability to finish fights, he's a legit threat for the England-born fighter. Still, I think McGeary takes this one and pummels his opponent by way of strikes.
Final prediction: McGeary def. Mucitelli via technical knockout
That's a wrap.
Keep it locked right here for the official weigh-in results on Thursday afternoon, followed by a stream of the "Prelims" under card bouts on Friday, right on through the live blow-by-blow coverage of the Spike TV main card.
See you then!