Last night, Friday November 16th, in Rhode Island, Bellator’s 81st event went down featuring the semi finals of their season 7 Lightweight tournament. Rich Clementi lost to budding Polish star Marcin Held by toe hold in Round 2, and advancing to meet him in the finals was Dave Jansen, who defeated Ricardo Tirloni via split decision. The finals between Held and Jansen will now take place on December 14th, at the Bellator 84 event scheduled for Hammond, Indiana. On paper it looks like a solid final, with the winner of the tournament earning the next shot at 155 lb title holder Michael Chandler come season 8.
Dave Jansen owns an impressive 18-2 record, with his only losses being in the now defunct WEC, which got him dropped from the ZUFFA roster. Jansen won a split decision to advance to the finals, and he has quietly won 5 fights in a row on the Bellator roster.
Held however, may have the status of protege already. At just 20, he has lost only twice and is considered a leglock and submission specialist back in his native Poland. He has almost the same amount of experience as his 33 year old opponent. The X-factor is competition level, where we do not know much about his European opponents from earlier in his career. Submitting a veteran like Clementi, who has roughly 80 fights, is nothing to sneeze at, and he was relentless in getting the job done.
In March of 2011, Held made his Bellator debut, and he was submitted by current 155 lb titlist Chandler in the opening round. Held may hold this as a little bit of added motivation heading into the finals, as a rematch with a guy that beat you, who now holds a title, must be considered appealing to any motivated fighter.
I don’t know where the books will come in on this one, but I am taking Held for the win. Jansen is very good, but he is 33 years old, and started fighting in his late 20′s. His competition level on many of those early fights is probably similar to Held’s, so ther is no real experience factor he can point to. When in doubt go with the young blood, especially when most other factors appear equal. If Held somehow comes in an underdog, I will bet him hard!