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Bellator 133 preview, predictions for 'Shlemenko vs. Manhoef' main card on Spike TV

Who will rebound from their last Bellator loss, Melvin Manhoef or Alexander Shlemenko? Who is a future featherweight contender, former champion Pat Curran or the streaking Daniel Weichel?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday night (Feb. 13, 2015) Bellator MMA holds its second card of 2015, featuring two bouts that could determine future title contenders along with a much-anticipated featherweight debut.

Alexander Shlemenko found his way back into the win column back home in mother Russia, but he's still coming off two tough losses in a row in Bellator, and the last one cost him his middleweight world title. To reassert himself into the title picture, he must defeat another middleweight coming off a recent loss, the hard hitting Melvin Manhoef.

The co-main event is a showdown in the stacked featherweight division. Daniel Weichel is undefeated in Bellator MMA and has a six-fight win streak, but his opponent Pat Curran is a two-time Bellator featherweight champion. The latter is on a quest to regain his title, while the former is out to prove he's a worthy opponent for Patricio "Pitbull" Freire.

Check out our full preview for the Bellator 133 man card below:

185 lbs.: Alexander Shlemenko (51-9) vs. Melvin Manhoef (29-12-1, 1 NC)

At over 100 combined professional fights between the two, "experience" is a word we can throw away for this preview. There can be little doubt both men have seen and done it all inside a ring or a cage. The one thing Melvin Manhoef doesn't see often is the second round, which has led to some surprising losses in fights he dominated early. Manhoef likes to hit hard and win fast, and when he doesn't, his muscular physique leaves him completely spent.

Is "Storm" Shlemenko the man to wear Manhoef down and finish him off? Only 14 of his 51 career wins have come by decision, so it's far from his preferred method of victory, though a few of them have come inside the Bellator cage. He's better known as a flashy striker though who will on occasion bust out a choke if his opponent presents an opening. It's one area where Manhoef is extremely vulnerable, as seven of his 12 losses have come by submission.

The main event of a Spike TV card in front of a live crowd in Fresno, California may seem like a pressure packed environment, but there will be no more pressure on them than they put on themselves. Manhoef seemed poised to be the man in Bellator until he got knocked out by Joe Schilling, and Shlemenko was undefeated for three years until Tito Ortiz put his lights out in a non-title bout.

The one advantage either man may have in their rebound bout is age, as Shlemenko is 30 years old. He's had a lot of fights for a man his age, but so has Manhoef when you combine his MMA and kickboxing records together and he's eight years older. As far as I'm concerned, time is NOT on Manhoef's side.

Neither are the odds.

Final prediction: Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko takes a unanimous decision.

145 lbs.: Pat Curran (20-6) vs. Daniel Weichel (34-8)

People often crow about how stacked the UFC's lightweight division is, but Bellator's featherweight division may be among the most competitive anywhere in the world. It's practically a round robin affair, as the belt trades hands back and forth between the likes of Daniel Straus, Pat Curran, and current champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. To get a crack at getting his title back, Curran has to use Daniel Weichel as a "stepping stone."

The relentless Weichel has other ideas.

He's only lost two fights since 2010 and has won his last six in a row, including all three of his Bellator bouts. 21 of 34 wins have come by submission, and "The Weasel" is well known for his rear naked choke: if he gets your back you're in big trouble. Very few people get Curran to tap, as the last time he submitted in a fight (and the only time so far in his career) was back in 2009 against Travis Perzynski.

As good as Weichel is, I don't like his chances of being able to take a wrestler like Curran down, who is more than happy to grind it out. In fact, eight of his wins and five of his losses have come by decision. That means Weichel's best chance is to outpoint him striking, and I don't see Weichel as a striker at the level of Eddie Alvarez or Daniel Straus, two Bellator opponents who have outlasted him to get their hand raised.

Final prediction: Pat Curran takes a split decision from the judges.

145 lbs.: Julia Budd (6-2) vs. Gabrielle Holloway (4-1)

All respect to Gabrielle Holloway for taking this fight on short notice when the undefeated Talita Nogueira had to bow out due to injury, but this is far from an ideal way for her to make her Bellator debut. Actually it's probably bad for either woman. Budd had trained and prepared for Nogueira's jiu-jitsu game and now that's completely out the window. Still, for Holloway, it's her second fight in two weeks, so I've got to give the tactical advantage to the fresher fighter.

Final prediction: Julia Budd wins via first round knockout.

170 lbs.: Chris Honeycutt (5-0) vs. Clayton MacFarlane (4-0)

Two undefeated fighters open the Bellator MMA card for Spike TV, with Honeycutt moving up after an impressive prelim win over Aaron Wilkinson. Though it's his chance to shine, Honeycutt can't afford to look past MacFarlane, who has only had one fight go to a decision, while none of the rest lasted longer than 75 seconds.

What you've got here is two young, hungry, and dangerous fighters who are looking to go out and make a name for themselves on the big stage. I give the advantage to Honeycutt based on his collegiate wrestling at Edinboro.

Final prediction: Chris Honeycutt wins via second round TKO.

That's a wrap! will deliver live coverage of Bellator 133: "Shlemenko vs. Manhoef" on Friday night (Feb. 13), with the first fight streaming live online at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised portion of Bellator 133 which airs live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.

See you then!

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