Bellator MMA's Season 10 continues this Friday night (April 11, 2014) live from Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.
Bellator 116 "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, also on Spike TV.
In the main event, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mainstay Lavar Johnson will face sambo specialist Blagoi Ivanov in the semifinal round of the heavyweight tournament.
Johnson won his quarterfinal tournament bout against Ryan Martinez in impression fashion, recording a first round technical knockout (TKO) of the Bellator veteran. However, "Big" is just 3-5 in his past eight fights, which means he is likely looking to make a statement against Ivanov.
Ivanov is riding a 10 fight unbeaten streak into his bout against Johnson, and has an opportunity to record the most high profile win of his MMA career if he can beat the UFC veteran.
Elsewhere on the card "Mighty Mo" Siala takes on Alexander Volkov on the other side of the heavyweight tournament bracket and former UFC light heavyweights Joey Beltran and Vladimir Matyushenko square off in a feature bout.
Check out our full preview and predictions below.
265-pound tournament semifinal fight: Lavar Johnson vs. Blagoi Ivanov
What we have here is a classic case of a member of the old guard attempting to make a stand against an up and coming young lion.
Johnson is 36 years old and has been victorious in just three of his past eight fights. He's obviously much closer to the end of his career as a professional beater of asses than to its beginning.
Ivanov on the other hand is a mere 27 years old. What's more, he sports an undefeated record and a combat sambo victory over MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko during "The Last Emperor's" prime back in 2008.
If we've learned one thing about the veteran Johnson over his stints in Strikeforce, UFC, and now Bellator, it's that he's most dangerous in the early going of a fight. Of his six career wins in a major league MMA promotion, Johnson has ended all but one of them via first round KO or TKO. And that lone outlier? He also won that one via TKO, but it took him a round and a half to do so.
With that in mind, Johnson has a legit chance of knocking out Ivanov in the first round, provided he can connect with the Bulgarian's chin.
However, to do so, "Big" will have to avoid Ivanov's submission skills. The sambo specialist has four victories by submission to date, and Johnson has proven himself to be particularly prone to submission losses over the years.
Which is why I'm going with Ivanov in this one. He may not have as big of a name as Johnson, and he hasn't faced the same level of competition, but given how their respective styles match up, this one is Ivanov's to lose provided he can turn it into a grappling bout early.
Final prediction: Blagoi Ivanov via second round submission.
265-pound tournament semifinal fight: Siala-Mou "Mighty Mo" Siliga vs. Alexaner Volkov
This is a similar tale to the one above. Former pro kickboxer "Mighty Mo" may be relatively inexperienced in the MMA game, but at 43 years of age he's far from a spring chicken when it comes to this combat sports business. In sharp contrast, the former Bellator heavyweight champ Volkov is just 25.
However, unlike the case of the Bellator 116 main event, Volkov is also a far more experienced mixed martial artist than Mighty Mo, who has a record of just two wins and one loss in MMA competition.
I'm predicting a slaughter in this one. Mighty Mo is just in over his head against the former Bellator heavyweight champion.
Final prediction: Alexander Volkov via first round submission.
170-pound tournament semifinal fight: Nathan Coy vs. Adam McDonough
Both of these men are entering this one riding a wave of momentum, with Coy winning his past six fights in a row and McDonough being undefeated over the course of his 10 fight professional career.
Coy may be the more experienced of the two, but McDonugh has looked the more impressive in Bellator thus far, most notably in his Bellator 100 victory over Johnny Buck which was set up by a devastating spinning back kick.
I like McDonugh to continue his momentum in Bellator here with an early stoppage victory over Coy.
Final prediction: Adam McDonough via first round TKO.
205-pound feature fight: Joey Beltran vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
To put it in the politest terms possible, both of these men have seen their better days.
Once upon a time, Beltran and Matyushenko were both UFC fixtures, fighting on the same cards as some of the biggest stars the sport has ever seen.
Now they're curtain jerking a throwaway Bellator card devoid of any real star power.
Of the two, Beltran's fall has been the most precipitous: Since 2011, he's amassed a record of 2-6-1 NC. That's a lot of pink boxes on his Wikipedia page.
Matyushenko, who made his UFC debut against Yuki Kondo at UFC 32 all the way back in 2001, may have more miles under his belt than "The Mexicutioner," but he's also a more talented fighter.
It won't be pretty, but look for Matyushenko to grapple with Beltran and control him for three rounds en route to a decision victory.
Final prediction: Vladimir Matyushenko via unanimous decision.
That's a wrap folks.
Be sure to check us out Friday night (April 11, 2014) for Bellator 116 results, play-by-play, and LIVE fight coverage for "Johnson vs. Ivanov" right here on MMAmania.com.
See you then!