This Saturday Bellator FC returns to MTV2 for the first installment of their three-part “Summer Series of Love”, with the love focused firmly on the 145-pound weight class and the tournament that will unfold before our very eyes. Hey, remember a few years ago when the lightest fighters we’d ever see competing were 155 pounders? Now we have a weight class so active, some of these poor guys have to work through the summer. When do they get a vacation? I don’t know! But here’s a breakdown of the pertinent names in Bellator’s tournament, with the standard caveat being “it’s a tournament, so any of these guys could lose to some unknown at any time”.
Pat Curran – What does a strong counter-fighting game, winning a lightweight tournament and getting smoked by champ Eddie Alvarez get you these days? If you’re Curran, it gets you a slot in the tourney the next weight class down. Obviously, he should have a size advantage against his cohorts, and if he lands he’s capable of knocking dudes out. But some of the other fighters are much faster than him, so Curran might have a rough time of it.
Luis Palomino – Palomino can swing for the fences and he can hurt when he connects, and last year he eked out a decision against Jorge Masvidal (remember him from Strikeforce last weekend?), so you know he’s tough. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’ll win the tournament, but his scheduled quarterfinal match-up against Curran could easily have Curran packing his bags and going home.
Nazareno Malegarie – Okay, maybe Malegarie has a problem with strong wrestlers – as evidenced by his Bellator 37 loss to Daniel Straus – but isn’t that a problem common with most jiu-jitsu black belts who are products of Brazil’s thick grassroots MMA scene? Don’t forget that before Straus, Malegarie was 19-0, with wins mostly by submission and knockout. That makes him a very capable butt-kicker.
Jacob DeVree – Devree, a Rage in the Cage veteran, can wrestle and knows his way around a submission or two. Unfortunately, his quarterfinal match-up is against Malegarie, and the American probably won’t be able to replicate Straus’ game. Magic Eightball says, “Try again later, Devree.”
Marlon Sandro – He’s a Nova Uniao black belt, and after nearly winning the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix, Sandro has been widely considered to be one of the top guys in his weight class. Why the heck is he not the UFC? Well, UFC champ Jose Aldo is his teammate, and you know how that goes. Anyway, the expectation is that he’s going to cut through the other competitors in this tournament like a hot knife through butter. Lord knows he’s got the skills.
Genair da Silva – Da Silva is making his American debut on Saturday, and he’s a tough scrapper and veteran of the Brazil circuit. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s facing Sandro. See ya!
Ronnie Mann – A product of the British fight scene, Mann has been knocking on the door to the “elite featherweights club” for a while now. He’s skilled on the ground, he can strike, and he’s explosive when he wants to be. If something happens to Sandro, watch for Mann to become the tournament favorite.
Adam Schindler – Schindler has proven he can grapple, and he’s riding a six-fight win streak. He’s also never fought in the “bigger leagues”, and his opponent in the quarterfinals is Mann. When you see him fight on Saturday night, take a mental picture, as it will likely be the last time you see him on television for a while.