Bellator MMA continues its Season 9 this Friday night (Nov. 15, 2013) live from Revel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
SpikeTV.com, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card starting at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV."Prelims" under card mixed martial arts (MMA) matches will stream online at
In the main event former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson makes his Bellator debut against another UFC alum, Joey Beltran. "Rampage" is winless in his past three fights, and is a mere 4-4 since 2008, so he is no doubt looking to make a statement against Beltran and prove to the world he is still relevant after years spent on the downward slide.
For his part, the former Heavyweight, Beltran, is also at something of a career crossroads, having won just once in his past five fights. After winning his Light Heavyweight debut against Anton Talamantes at a local independent event in Oklahoma event called C3 Fights, Beltran has been unable to get any momentum going. A win over Jackson -- even the aging Jackson of 2013 -- would be a huge victory for Beltran that would redeem many of the mistakes of his past few years.
In the co-main event, Vitaly Minakov challenges for Bellator Heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov's title. The bout marks Volkov's first attempted defense of the belt after winning the vacant championship in a bout with Richard Hale back at Bellator 84.
Elsewhere on the card, Patricio Freire squares off against Justin Wilcox in the finals of the Season 9 Featherweight tournament. Does the former Strikeforce fighter Wilcox have what it takes to defeat Pitbull or will Freire win his second Bellator tournament on Friday night?
Check out ourpreview and predictions below:
205-pound feature fight: Quinton Jackson vs. Joey Beltran
Remember when Bellator, "The Promotion Where Title Shots Are Earned, Not Given," was all about putting title matches and tournament finals in the main event slot of its shows?
Yeah, me neither.
What we have here folks, is a makeshift main event cobbled together at the last minute after Tito Ortiz was forced out of his planned Bellator 106 bout with Rampage, thereby causing Bellator to cancel its inaugural pay per view (PPV) and instead air the card for free on Spike TV. Rampage is under a very lucrative contract, and Bellator owed him a fight, so thus we get Jackson main eventing a random TV card against a guy who is 1-4-1 over his last six fights.
If both men were in their primes, Rampage would be the obvious pick here. Not only has Beltran never proven himself to be a championship level fighter, but he never was never known for his one-punch knockout power like Rampage used to be circa the middle of last decade.
That last part of the preceding sentence is the problem here, though. Rampage hasn't looked sharp in many years. In fact his last truly impressive performance was his first round knockout of Wanderlei Silva back at UFC 92 on Dec. 28, 2008. Since then Jackson has only won three times, and one of those wins -- a split decision over Lyoto Machida at UFC 123 -- realistically was a gift he as very lucky to have handed to him by a pair of nearsighted judges.
The word on the street, or at least the story being perpetuated by Rampage and Bellator's PR department, is the constant knee problems that have slowed Rampage down in recent years are a thing of the past thanks to him undergoing the supposed miracle German blood spinning therapy Dana White and Kobe Bryant have famously received.
If that is the case, expect Rampage to smoke Beltran in the first or second round. However, if news of Rampage's return to form has been greatly exaggerated then I see this turning into a three round decision. If things do go that way, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Beltran -- who has been the more active of the two as of late -- get a decision victory over Rampage.
In the spirit of ex-UFC fighters shitting the bed in their Bellator debut, it would be thematically consistent with what we've seen the past from fighters like Lavar Johnson for Jackson to come up short against Beltran on Friday night.
Still, assuming Rampage has anything left in the tank, this should be his fight to lose. Expect the fight to be a lot closer than one would think, but for Rampage to walk away with a unanimous decision victory.
Final prediction: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson via unanimous decision
265-pound title fight: Alexander Volkov vs. Vitaly Minakov
If you couldn't already guess by their surnames ending in "kov," this is a Russian vs. Russian heavyweight title fight. That means one thing's certain: we are guaranteed a cheesy promo video from at least one of these men full of lines like, "I am a Russian warrior who possesses the indomitable will to win of a cornered mother bear. I wash my balls with ice water from Lake Teletskoye in the coldest depths of winter. The only time my frigid heart feels any warmth is when I see the sight of another man's blood," or some such nonsense.
Minakov won the right to face Volkov for the title by blowing through the 2013 summer season tournament. The combo sambo veteran notched up a pair of TKO victories over Ron Sparks and Ryan Martinez and looked damn impressive doing so.
Volkov meanwhile hasn't fought in almost a year since winning the vacant Bellator heavyweight title in a bout against Richard Hale at Bellator 84 on Dec. 14, 2012. Although his nationality may lead one to believe he's another sambo fighter or perhaps a wrestler, his background is in kyokushin karate. Volkov has an unorthodox, yet effective striking style and possesses good takedown defense.
He's going to need it against Minakov. If the sambo specialist can get this fight to the ground early it's going to be a long five rounds for Volkov.
I'd give the edge to Volkov standing, but not by a blow away margin. The 12-0 Minakov has finished all but one of his career victories, including seven victories by knockout or TKO, which means he's no slouch wherever the fight ends up taking place.
Simply put, Minakov has more pathways to victory than Volkov and momentum on his side, so the title should be his for the taking on Friday night.
Final prediction: Vitaly Minakov via third round technical knockout
145-pound tournament final: Patricio Pitbull vs. Justin Wilcox
Wilcox is something of a comeback kid here, both in terms of his career and how he got to the finals. Wilcox was getting his ass whipped in a major way by Akop Stepanyan back at Bellator 99 in the opening round of the tournament, but rallied to lock on a fight ending rear naked choke in the fight's second frame. The former Strikeforce fighter Wilcox's contract didn't migrate to the UFC when that promotion eventually folded, likely because he was coming off a pair of losses to Caros Fodor and Jorge Masvidal. Instead he took some time off before debuting in Bellator last September.
Pitbull on the other hand is something of an old hand at this whole Bellator tournament business. He won the fourth season featherweight tournament but fell short against then champion Pat Curran and lost in the finals of the second season tourney against Joe Warren.
Based on what we've seen of both of men in the past, Pitbull is a much better fighter than Wilcox. That's not to say Wilcox is a bum, but at age 34 he's likely done making huge improvements to his game, whereas the 26 year old Pitbull is just entering his athletic prime.
I expect Pitbull's speed and superior standup to be the difference here, and with his proven knockout power, he could have Wilcox in a world of trouble before the Strikeforce vet knows what hit him.
Final prediction: Patricio Pitbull via first round knockout
135-pound feature fight: Marcos Galvao vs. Tom Mckenna
Bellator is billing this on their website as a "Bantamweight Feature Fight" but perhaps a better name for it would be "Guy Barely Anyone Has Heard of Vs. a Guy Nobody Has Heard of Feature Fight."
That's not meant as a knock on either Galvao or Mckenna so much as it is an indictment of Bellator's penchant this season for starting off their televised cards with lower level fighters the majority of its fan base isn't already familiar with. Galvao has had one fight in Bellator since the move to Spike TV -- a knockout loss to Bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas -- but that was hardly a star-making performance on his part. McKennna has never fought in a nationally televised US promotion.
While I'm all for Bellator attempting to make new stars, the promotion's habit of putting matches like this on TV while slotting matches featuring at least one established name who still has athletic gas in the tank, like Paul Sass vs. Rod Montoya, on unaired Spike.com "prelims" is baffling.
Be that as it may, it's not Galvao and Mckenna's fault Bellator is making questionable booking decisions this season, so let's take a look at their fight.
Galvao should win this one thanks to his well rounded game that matches good standup with a Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) black belt. He trains out of Nova União -- home of UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo, UFC interim bantamweight champ Renan Barao, and Bellator Bantamweight kingpin Eduardo Dantas -- so he's got arguably the best lighter weight camp in MMA on his side.
From what I've seen of Mckenna he's primarily a wrestler with a rudimentary standup attack. He comes in stiff and is content to eat leg kicks, which is a recipe for disaster when facing a training partner of Jose Aldo.
Look for Galvao to have punish Mckenna's lead leg early and from there to teach the American the age old lesson about a one legged man's chances of success in an ass kicking contest.
Final prediction: Marcos Galvao via third round technical knockout