Bellator 203 “Pitbull vs. Weichel 2” takes place tomorrow night (Sat., July 14, 2018) at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy. All roads lead to a rematch of a tremendous bout from June 2015 in St. Louis. Anything less than the thrilling “Slobberknocker at Scottrade” might be considered a disappointment, but both the Featherweight champion and the No. 1 contender deliver big more often than not when on top.
Let’s break it down:
145 lbs.: Patricio Freire (26-4) vs. Daniel Weichel (39-9)
If there’s a “face of the division” for Featherweights in Bellator MMA it is Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. His tetralogy of fights with Daniel Straus will someday be the focus of a DVD set or a TV special. He’s beaten a who’s who of fighters: Wilson Reis (twice), Pat Curran, Georgi Karakhanyan and Henry Corrales just to name a few. His heavy hands (nine knockouts) are equally adept on the ground (11 submissions) and his ability to win rematches has made him the two time reigning and defending world champion. In fact Freire has not lost two fights in a row in his ENTIRE career dating all the way back to 2004.
Daniel Weichel knows Patricio Freire of old. He stepped in to replace Karakhanyan in a world title match at the “Unfinished Business” card in St. Louis where Kimbo Slice faced Ken Shamrock. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better title fight in this weight class in person. Weichel was one second away from scoring a TKO win as the bell saved Freire, but 32 seconds into R2 “Pitbull” dropped him and it was all over. Coming so close only to come up short has left Weichel with a burning desire to face Freire again and prove he’s the man, an opportunity he’s earned with his current four fight winning streak.
Weichel has a lot going for him. He’s a big powerful Featherweight who stands 5’10” with a 71” reach, making the champion look diminutive by comparison at 5’5” with a 65” reach, but (pun not intended) it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. “Pitbull” lives up to his nickname with a ferocity few other fighters at 145 in this or any other promotion can match, and in some respects being smaller is a huge benefit to him as he can be more chiseled and muscular and still make weight. It may be telling though that he’s lost two of the three fights in his career to give five rounds. Muscle mass can zap your cardio.
As thrilling as their first fight was, Weichel would be well advised to try and drag Freire into the deep waters and see if he can still swim. For better or worse though there may simply be too much pride on the line for him to use that formula. He believes deep down in his heart that he’s the better man and would not have fought so hard to earn this rematch if he wasn’t convinced it’s true. On top of that he has a favorable travel schedule going from Germany to Italy for this fight, and may even have the more vocal contingent in the building that night. Weichel is too veteran and focused to be distracted by their energy, but his biggest enemy is himself. He COULD win a tactical fight, but he’s likely to lose a war.
Final prediction: Patricio Freire retains the title via split decision
205 lbs.: Alessio Sakara (19-12, 2 NC) vs. Jamie Sloane (8-3, 1 NC)
Moving back up to Light Heavyweight seems like the right career move for Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara after Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho tore through him like tissue paper in December last year. That’s the “Jekyll and Hyde” nature of a fighter though who has won 13 fights and lost five by knockout. That means fighting the UK’s Jamie Sloane is good AND bad news. The bad news is that Sloane has won 75% of his fights by knockout (six of eight) but the good news is he’ll give Sakara exactly what he’s best at - a fight in a phone booth. He’s faced and beaten more experienced and heavy handed strikers than Sloane (Joey Beltran, James Irvin, Joe Vedepo) so if this smells like giving the home country favorite a favorable opponent your nose isn’t lying.
Final prediction: Alessio Sakara wins by TKO in the first round
185 lbs.: Will Fleury (4-0) vs. Alen Amedovski (5-0)
To put it simply we have a battle of the unknowns trying to get known with this fight. Fleury has slightly more buzz due to the fact he’s an undefeated SBG fighter out Ireland, which makes it a minor miracle he hadn’t fought in Bellator or UFC before now. Even average SBG fighters end up on someone’s undercard somewhere. I’ll honestly be shocked if you say you’ve heard of Alen Amedovski though. The Macedonian is a power striker with five wins all by knockout. Fleury has finished two by TKO and one with a choke so if you’re looking for a stand-up war these guys are likely to deliver.
Final prediction: Alen Amedovski wins by second round knockout
170 lbs.: Andrey Koreshkov (20-2) vs. Vaso Bakocevic (33-17-1)
Former Welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov has had a long layoff since his surprising Bellator 182 TKO loss last August. Vaso Bakocevic seems tailor made for “The Spartan” to find his form and return to his winning ways against. Although he’s currently on a seven fight win streak, those 17 losses suggest a whole slew of holes in his armor, particularly given 11 of 17 are by knockout. Koreshkov on the other hand has only been dropped twice — by Chidi Njokuani and by fellow former champ Douglas Lima. He’s got a rock solid chin and eleven WINS by knockout. To quote an infamous Atari Jaguar commercial from the 1990’s, “You do the math.”
Final prediction: Andrey Koreshkov by third round TKO
155 lbs.: Simone La Preziosa (3-4) vs. Maxim Radu (8-1)
The win/loss record should tell you all you need to know. To ice that cake let it be known that Radu has four knockouts in his eight wins and that La Preziosa lost his first four fights in a row, so he’s been scraping by just trying to get UP to the Mendoza line.
Final prediction: Maxim Radu by knockout
145 lbs.: Michele Martignoni (4-0) vs. Simone D’Anna (4-1)
The undefeated Martignoni has picked up submission wins in 75% of her fights. The almost unblemished D’Anna has two knockouts, one submission, and just suffered her first pro loss in April by triangle choke. Look for Martignoni to exploit that and hand her a second defeat.
Final prediction: Michele Martignoni via submission
That’s a wrap!
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