Bellator MMA begins its tenth season this Friday night (Feb. 28, 2014) live from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Bellator 110's "Prelims" under card will stream online at Spike.com, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card starting at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV. All-in-all there all 11 fights slated to take place at Bellator 110.
The main event of the evening features Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in his second fight under the Bellator banner, taking on Christian M'Pumbu, the first fighter to hold Bellator's Light Heavyweight strap. In the co-featured fight of the night, Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal will look to redeem himself following a second loss to Emanuel Newton at Bellator 106, returning to the cage against the dangerous Mikhail Zayats.
That's not all.
Check out Bellator 110: "Rampage vs. M'Pumbu" preview and predictions of the Spike TV main card:
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (33-11) vs. Christian "Tonton" M'Pumbu (18-5)
This will mark the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion's first foray into Bellator's oft-maligned tournament format. "Rampage" will come into Friday with lots to lose -- on the horizon looms a chance at the promotion's 205-pound strap and a marquee match up against one of Bellator's biggest stars, the aforementioned Newton or division champion Attila Vegh.
The newest member of the Monster Energy sponsorship machine will look to follow-up his victory against Joey Beltran at Bellator 108 against M'Pumbu, a man who hasn't fought in exactly 365 days.
"Tonton" hasn't exactly blown away anyone his last few times inside the cage. After winning his first three fights for Bellator in 2011, the Congo native has gone on to drop his last two matches. One came at the hands of the ridiculously-traveled Travis Wiuffe (69-18) and the most recent came against the injured champion, Vegh.
This fight will come down to grappling. Both men have the ability to knockout anyone, but "Rampage" will do himself a lot of good if he slows down the pace and works over M'Pumbu with some nasty ground-and-pound. While I don't think this bout will be nearly as one sided as the current betting odds predict, I do think Bellator's biggest star moves on in the tournament.
Prediction: Quinton Jackson via decision
Muhammed "King Mo' Lawal (11-3) vs. Mikhail Zayats (22-7)
"King Mo" can be one of the most explosive fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA). This was not the case at Bellator 106, however, when the former Strikeforce kingpin lost a close decision at the hands of current Bellator interim champ Newton, marking his second loss to "The Hardcore Kid" in as many tries.
Standing opposite him at Bellator 110 will be the submission specialist, Zayats. The Russian international also has a loss to Newton on his record, but is (8-1) in his last nine appearances.
This is another tough test for Lawal, who surely needs to take it to Zayats before the fight goes to the ground. "King Mo" is by no means incapable of escaping such a game plan implored by Zayats, but it will be to his benefit to explode on Zayats before the fight comes down to judges. My gut says go with the upset here, but I'll play it safe and say Lawal advances to the final, setting up a potential pay-per-view (PPV) match up with Jackson later this year in the tournament final.
Prediction: Muhammed Lawal via unanimous decision
Mike "The Marine" Richman (16-3) vs. Desmond "The Predator" Green (9-2)
This bout has the potential to steal the show.
Richman always has exciting bouts -- five of the seven he has been involved in have not gone the distance. And if he had things his way, Friday would be no different. The former U.S. Marine brutally finished Akop Stepanyan at Bellator 106, running his finished total to 14 out of 16.
He will have his hands full with the young and sprawling 24-year-old Green, though.
"The Predator" is batting .500 in Bellator -- his promotional debut came in California against Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva at Bellator 99, where he coasted to what he thought would be a decision victory. In the end, however, the judges didn't see the fight in his favor, handing him his second loss of his MMA career. He bounced back in impressive fashion at Bellator 105, finishing Angelo Sanchez early in the second frame and showing his full potential.
In a tightly contested battle, I foresee Richman unable to cope with the strong take down ability of Green and the young prospect advancing to the next round of the Featherweight bracket.
Prediction: Desmond Green via unanimous decision
Diego "The Gun" Nunes (18-5) vs. Matt "The Mangler" Bessette (12-4)
Nunes entered Bellator exactly the way he exited UFC ... losing. The former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) prospect now starts off 2014 with a spot in the promotion's 145-pound tournament and has a chance to wash away the 90-second thrashing he experienced against Patricio "Pitbull" Freire.
Bessette comes into the fray on the opposite end of the spectrum. The 29-year-old is riding a four-fight win streak and will gain much from a win against an opponent with the name value of Nunes. A strong background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu will be his method of attack; therefore, expect him to make this a technical match up.
In the end, Nunes is well-aware that he needs to string together some results. That's because a loss here -- against a lesser-known opponent -- will go a long way in putting him right into the independent MMA scene. Therefore, look for him to come out with "The Gun's" blazing and pick up the victory.
Prediction: Diego Nunes via knockout
Goiti Yamauchi (16-1) vs. Will Martinez (8-2-1)
This bout pits the 21-year-old Yamauchi against a man 12 years his elder. Yamauchi has won 13 of his 16 fights via submission, preferably rear-naked choke. The former Shooto fighter will look to continue his undefeated streak in Bellator against a man who tied UFC veteran Al Iaquinta in 2009.
This fight as the looks of a squash match and I will go with Yamauchi going to his bread and butter, earning him a submission victory.
Prediction: Goiti Yamauchi via submission
That's a wrap for now.
Remember that MMAmania will deliver everything you need for Bellator 110, including live results, recaps and updates during and after the show this weekend.
Indeed, keep it locked right here for the official weigh-in results on Thursday, a stream of the "Prelims" under card bouts Friday and live blow-by-blow coverage of the Spike TV event.