Bellator 127: "Straus vs. Wilcox" takes place this Friday night (Oct. 3, 2014) at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California. Daniel Straus is on a path to career redemption after losing the featherweight title to Pat Curran back in May -- the same man he beat for the title at Bellator 106 in November of 2013. To earn his way back to a title bout he'll have to get through the tough-as-nails Justin Wilcox, who has won three out of four Bellator fights since his debut against Akop Stepanyan at Bellator 99.
In our co-main event, longtime veteran Karo "The Heat" Parisyan is in a battle between potential welterweight title contenders as he faces "The Menifee Maniac" Fernando Gonzalez. Menifee surprised many doubters with his unanimous decision win over feared striker "Psycho" Karl Amoussou at Bellator 122. Parisyan has experienced a career renaissance since his last appearance in UFC, winning four out of his last five and knocking out Ron Keslar and Phil Baroni on his way to Friday's fight.
Check out our Bellator 127 preview and predictions below:
145 lbs.: Daniel Straus (22-5) vs. Justin Wilcox (14-6-1)
Straus compiled five straight wins inside the Bellator cage before taking the featherweight title from Pat Curran in a five round decision. Their rematch was equally epic, but this time Curran decided it wasn't going to the judges, getting his title back with a rear naked choke LATE in the fifth round -- only 14 seconds were left when Straus tapped. Curran ultimately lost the title AGAIN in a rematch with Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, but if Straus gets the nod they could wind up fighting a third time for No. 1 contender's status.
Justin "The Silverback" Wilcox won't be content to play the role of stepping stone. He's 3-1 in four Bellator fights and with 10 of 14 wins by decision he's the very definition of a grinder. Unfortunately that advantage is diminished against Straus -- over 50 percent of his wins (14 of 22) are by decision, too. Straus only seems to lose when he makes mental mistakes, so if he's well prepared for Wilcox expect this to be a grueling duel between two highly-skilled wrestlers.
Final prediction: Straus def. Wilcox by split decision.
170 lbs.: Karo Parisyan (24-10, 1 NC) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (21-13)
Karo "The Heat" Parisyan often seems to be a finger's length away from the brass ring. He is the former holder of the WEC welterweight title and regularly goes on four, five and six fight winning streaks -- until he falls short when he faces an equally skilled foe. There's no shame, however, in saying it takes a fighter the caliber of Georges St-Pierre, Thiago Alves, or Rick Hawn to hand you a loss. Parisyan will look to use his submission game in this fight -- half of his career wins have come that way, and he's only been tapped out once.
"The Menifee Maniac" Fernando Gonzalez is a fighter's fighter: A multi-time veteran of promotions like WEC, King of the Cage, and Gladiator Challenge. "Psycho" Karl Amoussou may have underestimated him going into their fight in Temecula this past July, and if he did that was a costly mistake, as Gonzalez walked away with the unanimous decision. Parisyan won't make the same mistake. Gonzalez has forced a decision in a third of fights he's lost (five of 13), and been submitted as many (five of 13) so he's rarely finished by strikes.
Final prediction: Parisyan def. Gonzalez by submission.
135 lbs.: Rafael Silva (21-4) vs. Rob Emerson (17-10, 1 NC)
Emerson comes into the night on a five-fight winning streak, undefeated so far in his Bellator career. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran won four of those five fights by submission, though Silva has only tapped out once in 25 bouts and wins 42-percent of his fights that way himself (nine out of 21). Silva was a steamroller with 13 straight wins until he hit a brick wall in the self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet" Joe Warren, who won the interim bantamweight title in a very close five round decision. It's simply math really: the man who lost his streak now has to end someone else's to get back on track.
Final prediction: Silva def. Emerson via split decision.
185 lbs.: Kendall Grove (20-14, 1 NC) vs. Christian M'Pumbu (18-6-1)
As impressive as it is for M'Pumbu to have held the light heavyweight title, he was ill-suited to the weight class. Travis Wiuff beat him in a non-title bout immediately after he won the belt, Atilla Vegh beat him for the title outright in a five-round decision, and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson straight up knocked him unconscious on the ground. He came in well under the weight limit time and again, which meant instead of cutting down to light heavyweight, he was trying to come UP to 205 -- and getting manhandled in the process. Middleweight is where M'Pumbu belongs, but to prove it he'll have to outclass Kendall Grove, another former TUF fighter. Grove is two out of three but lost his last Bellator fight by knockout to Brett Cooper. M'Pumbu had never been knocked out before Jackson, and "Rampage" has harder jabs than most fighters have hooks or uppercuts, so his durable chin pairs well with Grove -- he only gets a KO 25-percent of the time.
Final prediction: M'Pumbu def. Grove by decision.
Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute weigh-in coverage tomorrow night, as well as extensive Bellator 127 live results and coverage this weekend!