Bellator 252: “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., tomorrow night (Thurs., Nov. 12, 2020), streaming live on CBS Sports Network. The main event was supposed to happen in March, but the world as we know it got turned upside-down for the majority of 2020. As the old saying goes, “better late than never.”
Let’s break it down:
145 lbs.: Patricio Freire (30-4) vs. Pedro Carvalho (11-3)
It feels like I’ve predicted this fight before ... OH WAIT, I DID. If I’m being perfectly honest, another seven months and change hasn’t changed my view of how this fight stacks up. I know “Pitbull” claims he chose Carvalho because he’s a loud mouth and wants to shut him up, but honestly out of the SBG Ireland crew, he probably talks the least smack of the whole camp. I realize they’ll get nose-to-nose for this fight just to hype it up for the casual fans, but that’s not the same as true animosity.
Besides that, there’s no reason for Carvalho to do anything leading up to this fight other than focus. The extra long training camp for his title shot has given him ample time to do that, but it’s still not likely to be enough. Sure, he’s a tall drink of water for a Featherweight at 5’11,” but Freire has a proven track record of mowing down larger competitors. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and that’s the reason he currently holds belts in two different weight classes. If Carvalho could keep him at range, work the angles sharp and precise, then double Freire to the ground, he’d have a chance. Bless him, but that won’t happen. “Pitbull” is too fast and powerful. He gets in and out quicker than a hiccup. Even if you have range on him, you can’t hit what you can’t see. It’s hard to counter thin air.
Final prediction: Patricio Freire via second round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Daniel Weichel (40-11) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4)
This should sound familiar because this, too, was originally booked for March. Weichel is one inch taller than Sanchez at 5”10,” but at 66 inches in reach he’s giving up five inches in arm length to his opponent. Sanchez should look to turn that into his advantage in the stand-up, while his ground game has improved with every fight under the tutelage of the Duke Roufus camp. It’s hard to get better than three triangle chokes in your last five fights, but if it’s possible they’ll find a way. Speaking of finding a way, Weichel vowed to “expose the holes” in Sanchez’ game in their rematch, but Sanchez promised it would be “one and done at Mohegan Sun.” Since the venue hasn’t changed and the fight hasn’t changed, why should his expectation change? The only edge Weichel really has is experience and “El Matador” has an excellent record against more experienced opponents.
Final prediction: Emmanuel Sanchez via first round submission
170 lbs.: Yaroslav Amosov (24-0) vs. Logan Storley (11-0)
To be honest, I’m surprised that Bellator would pair up these two Welterweights and have one take their first loss, but given that neither was in the recent Grand Prix and Douglas Lima could use a new challenger, this feels like either a No. 1 or No. 2 contender eliminator match. “Dynamo” Yaroslav Amosov is a dynamic fighter with finishes in 79 percent of his fights (nine knockouts, ten submissions). Storley is a wrestler figuratively and literally cut from the Brock Lesnar mold (both are from Webster, S.D., and both went to the University of Minnesota) but his eight knockouts prove that his power is as good as his takedowns. Storley has six fights in Bellator MMA, Amasov has five. Storley is a stocky powerful 5’9,” Amosov is a lean but long 5’11.”
Where does the advantage lie?
I give the nod to Amosov for the strength of his competition in the promotion. He’s beaten Gerald Harris, David Rickels and “EZ” Ed Ruth. Storley’s biggest win is ... Joaquin Buckley? Ion Pascu, maybe? I’m not about to claim that Storley has been protected on his way to perfection. Every fight he’s been in has been a real guy with a real chance to win, but Amosov has faced better grapplers and harder strikers with more opportunities to snap his unbeaten streak. I think Amosov owns a confidence level as a result that Storley does not.
Final prediction: Yaroslav Amosov via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Aaron Pico (6-3) vs. John de Jesus (13-8)
Here’s a bonus “swing bout” prediction! After a rough 2019 for one of the highest profile signings in Bellator history, Aaron Pico has turned things around in 2020. The fruits of his labor at Jackson-Winkeljohn are finally starting to show in his fights. Pico has learned the patience to not rush into bad positions while still maintaining the killer instinct that made him a Golden Gloves boxer and Olympic caliber wrestler even before he jumped to mixed martial arts (MMA). You can’t even say he’s taking too many fights too fast — the first was in January, and the last one in July only took him 130 seconds. I’m not going so far as to say he’s been gift-wrapped a perfect opportunity to go 3-0 in 2020, and given John de Jesus won three straight fights I won’t ... but he’s a very streaky fighter who alternates between winning and losing streaks. He’s slightly taller than Pico at 5’10” to 5’8,” but Pico is six years his junior at 24 and seems hungrier than ever.
Final prediction: Aaron Pico via unanimous decision
That’s a wrap!
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