As the current season of Bellator winds down, we’ve gleaned a few choice bits of knowledge from the happenings broadcast on MTV2 every weekend. For instance, we’ve learned that if the outcome of a bout involves a decision, logic doesn’t apply. We’ve also learned that “freire” is Portuguese for “slick ninja warrior assassin”, and that if someone is facing one of Bellator’s champs in a non-title bout, they will lose no matter what. But as there are still two installments left in the season, there is still much for us to be taught, and Saturday night’s Bellator 44 provides us with more potentially homicidal content than usual. How so? I’m glad you asked, ‘cause here’s MMA Convert’s preview.
Hector Lombard vs. Falaniko Vitale – Middleweight champ and Cuban judo Olympian Lombard is to clobbering humans as dynamite is to fishing in a pond. In other words, when Lombard steps into the cage to face the ultra-experienced and ultra-tough Hawaiian fighter, there will be an explosion and then everyone in rows one through five will be covered in fish guts and scales. Remember: Lombard’s first two appearances in Bellator ended with him scoring a six-second knockout and a 38-second knockout, so this match-up is the closest most of us will ever get to witnessing a pre-meditated murder.
Patricky Freire vs. Michael Chandler – Boy, those Freire brothers, they sure are something, huh? They’re both jiu-jitsu black belts, they’re both KO machines, and they’ve both smashed their way to the featherweight and lightweight tournament finals. On Saturday night we get to see Patricky, the bigger of the two, take on fellow finalist Chandler in what promises to be a very close and competitive bout. Not. Chandler may have some wrestling chops in his favor, but fighting the Brazilian is like climbing into a clothes dryer with a cocked .45 caliber handgun (i.e., it’s only a matter of time before the damn thing blows your head off). Expect Freire to notch another spectacular win, claim this season’s top lightweight honors, and face champ Eddie Alvarez farther down the road.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Brett Cooper – The veteran Russian striker Shlemenko proved to be skilled when he won the promotion’s last middleweight tournament, and he proved to be extremely resilient when he went five rounds with Lombard without dying. Cooper has proven to be a banger himself in two Bellator outings, but he’s no world beater, so watch for Shlemenko to taste Cooper’s power and decided to stand and scrap or taste Cooper’s power and decide to lie on top of him.
Anthony Morrison vs. Bryan Goldsby – Morrison combines a boxer’s hands with a wrestler’s sense of “oh, you ain’t taking me down”, and he used these traits to rise to the top of the Northeast rankings and compete twice in the WEC. And sure, he came away from that experience with two losses, but he fought Mike Brown and Chad Mendes, who are monster featherweights. Well, now the Philadelphia native is giving Bellator a try, and his opponent is bantamweight tourney washout Goldsby. Someone is going to get murdered in this one, and it sure won’t be Morrison.