Bellator MMA continues its ninth season this Friday night (Oct. 18, 2013) live from US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Bellator 104 "Prelims" under card mixed martial arts (MMA) matches will stream online at 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, former lightweight title challenger Rick Hawn will attempt to get one step closer to his goal of winning the current welterweight tournament and earning himself a second crack at Bellator gold. Standing in his way will be Brent Weedman, who comes into this fight fresh off a first round armbar submission of Justin Baesman at Bellator 100 last month.
While Weedman is obviously focused on advancing to the tournament finals and an eventual shot at the Bellator welterweight title, he is no doubt looking for a measure of revenge against Hawn, who beat him by unanimous decision at Bellator 70 back in May of 2012 to win the finals of the Bellator season six lightweight tournament.
On the opposite side of the welterweight tournament brackets, the ever colorful War Machine squares off against American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product Ron Keslar. War Machine is riding a two fight win streak in his post-penal MMA career inside the Bellator cage and looks to improve his record to 3-0 en route to the tournament finals with a win over Keslar.
Elsewhere on the card, a pair of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters collide when The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season three winner Kendall Grove locks horns with Joe Vedepo. Both men have hit a rough patch in their careers as of late, so the stakes couldn't be any higher when they make their return to national television at Bellator 104.
Check out our full preview and predictions bellow:
170-pound tournament semifinal match: Rick Hawn vs. Brent Weedman
At first I was stressing about this pick because I accidentally broke my trusty crystal ball attempting to follow along with Nick Diaz's "From Little Girl to Superhero Coming in With the Anti-Bullshit in 90 Days" nunchuck instruction video, but then I realized a history book would actually give me a clearer picture of who is going to win the rematch between Hawn and Weedman.
Putting aside the distressing state of our nation's schools when Bellator matches that aired on MTV2 in the bygone days of 2012 are to be found alongside the Gettysburg Address and accounts of the Industrial Revolution inside American history texts, I believe Hawn and Weedman's first encounter tells us a lot about how the sequel is going to go.
Although Weedman had his moments in the stand-up department during the first round when the two met at Bellator 70, it was the former Olympian Hawn who landed the better shots. From there, Hawn took control of the fight for the next two rounds and secured an easy unanimous decision victory.
Weedman just isn't the same level of athlete Hawn is, and expect that differential in athleticism to play a critical role as the fight progresses.
Final Prediction: Rick Hawn via unanimous decision
170-pound tournament semifinal match: War Machine vs. Ron Keslar
The Artist Formerly Known As Jon Koppenhaver (TAFKAJK) may in many ways be a trainwreck outside the cage, but inside it he possesses some legitimate skills. He ran through Blas Avena in his promotional debut back in June at Bellator 96, and put a hurting on Vaughn Anderson before sinking in a rear naked choke for a second round submission victory.
To be 100-percent real, I'm not blown away with what Keslar has shown so far. His methodical style is reminiscent of a slower, less-technical version of his AKA teammate Jon Fitch.
Keslar's Bellator debut back at Bellator 100 may have ended in a split decision victory over -- excuse me while I take a deep breath -- Luis Sergio Teotonio da Fonseca Melo Jr., but don't get hung up on the result. Despite getting the win, Keslar turned in a decidedly lackadaisical effort in a forgettable fight. Unless you're waiting for Bellator to counter the UFC's "Ultimate Submissions" series with a "Ultimate Dudes Securing a Figure Four Body Lock But Failing to Sink in a Rear Naked Choke" DVD series of their own, you probably don't need to add a viewing of Keslar vs. Sergio Jr. to your bucket list.
If Keslar comes in as flat against TAFKAJK as he did against Sergio Jr, he's going to be in for a rough night. The only real question here is if Keslar makes it long enough for announcer Jimmy Smith to crack his first joke about spending a quiet evening alone with TAFKAJK-girlfriend and porn-star Christie Mack's cinematic oeuvre.
Final Prediction: War Machine via second round TKO
265-pound feature fight: Eric Prindle vs. Peter Graham
Prindle may own a respectable 8-3-1 NC record, but he's a mere 1-2 since the start of 2012.
Meanwhile, Graham sports a less impressive record of 9-5, but most of those losses came early in his MMA career. The former K-1 kickboxer is riding a eight fight win streak into this sure-fire slobber-knocker against Prindle, and he hasn't lost since July of 2010.
Prindle may have never been knocked out in his professional career, but there's always a first time for everything. This Friday night looks to be that first time for Prindle, whose boxing based attack just won't be enough to deal with all the weapons Graham packs in his arsenal.
Final Prediction: Peter Graham via first round KO
185-pound feature fight: Kendall Grove vs. Joe Vedepo
You ever wonder where fighters pack their bags up and ship off to after coming out on the wrong end of one of those "loser leaves town" matches in the UFC?
Well, Grove and Vedepo are two ex-Zuffa employees who can tell you all about it. If you're lucky you end up in the short-lived reincarnation of former laughingstock ProElite like Grove. The less fortunate among Zuffa cast offs? They find themselves stuck on cards with names such as "Revolution Combat Championships 11: Cocked and Loaded" like Vedepo has.
This fight represents a chance for one of these two men to make it back to a fight promotion broadcast on a major network like Spike. For the loser, it's back to such illustrious shows as "Extreme Maximum Combat League: Bustin' Bones in Beantown 7."
This is a pick 'em, but not in a way that leaves me excited to watch two evenly-matched competitors duke it out and determine who the better man is. As depressing as it seems, this bout really feels more like a case of two shot fighters going at it to prove whose gas tank is the least empty.
As such, I've got a really hard time finding a reason to side with either man. I'm going to go with Vedepo simply because, of the two, Grove's decline has been the more precipitous as of late.
Really glad I didn't get that "Team Dagger 4 Life" tattoo I was thinking of having inked over my belly button back in the day. My giant back piece of a tracksuit-clad Gary Shaw raising Kimbo Slice's arm in victory is already embarrassing enough as it is.
Final Prediction: Joe Vedepo via split decision
And, as Buster Bunny used to say, that's a wrap folks.
Join me this Friday for LIVE Bellator 104 results and live play-by-play right here at MMAmania.com.