Bellator’s next season of MMA action kicks off on March 7th with Bellator 111 from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The card is headlined by the Bantamweight title defense of Eduardo Dantas as he takes on Rafael Silva. The main card also kicks off the Bellator seasonal Heavyweight tournament in a field that features Lavar Johnson, Mighty Mo, former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov and Richard Hale in the field.
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The Heavyweight tournament is a wide open field, with probably Mighty Mo as the early favorite. Mighty Mo gets Australian Peter Graham in the opening round. Graham went the distance in the finals of last year’s tournament with Cheick Kongo, but he is unlikely to have enough to take out Mo. When you see Mighty Mo, you will see a fighter in the mold of Mark Hunt, a big puncher who is very hard to hurt on his feet.
Former Bellator Champion Alexander Volkov gets Mark Holata in the opening round, with the winner of the bout facing the winner of Graham-Mo. Holata has a puncher’s chance, but expect Volkov vs Mighty Mo in the 2nd round.
The other side of the bracket sees Ryan Martinez square off against Lavar Johnson. Johnson, the UFC vet, is the more recognizable name, but Martinez is a slugger who has had some good success in Bellator, taking out veterans Travis Wiuff and Richard Hale using his hands. For his part, Johnson was flattened fast in his Bellator debut and needs a win to snap a 3 fight losing streak, but there are these that question whether Johnson has the makeup to put together a winning run.
The final bout pits veteran Richard Hale against Blagoi Ivanov, who is 2-0 in Bellator with two first round submissions. Ivanov is likely on his way to a meeting with Mo or Volkov in the finals.
The Bantamweight title match pits Brazilian versus Brazilian as young champion Eduardo Dantas defends against Raphael Silva. Dantas is an exciting fighter, and he has been great in Bellator, but in Silva he faces a hungrier, more mature fighter who worked his way up through Brazil’s rugged MMA scene to make it to Bellator. This could be a pick em fight when all is said and done.