Bellator kicks off it’s seaason 8 on January 17th with a card headlined by their Lightheavyweight talent, including veteran Renato Sobral and ‘King’ Mo Lawal. With less than three weeks befre the fights, the move to SPIKETV appears to not have changed Bellator’s sad lack of lead time for advertising, though the overall bracket has solid talent and could lead to some solid fights.
OK Bellator, here is a little history lesson. Bjorn, you may not know this, but Mirko’s real last name wasn’t CroCop. You see, PRIDE knew their audience wouldn’t do well with Mirko Filipovic, so they gave him the CroCop moniker. Bjorn you need to learn from this if you are going to keep trafficking in eastern european talent.
Along with Mikhail Zayats, which is almost pronouncable, Bellator has imported Przemyslaw Mysiala and Atanas Djambazov in what looks like a Boggle game gone wrong. Let’s make up some names for these boys please.
Zayats, for his part, can fight. We will find out more about the others, but they are likely to be game as is typical. Several of the euro imports broke thru in season 7 and all did monotone, tranlated interviews that no one cares about. Look for more of the same come season 8.
The favorites for the final are ‘King’ Mo and Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral. Sobral is a ten plus year veteran of the sport who has fought at a high level throughout his career. At this point in his career expect him to come in very focused as nothing short of a tournament win is worth it. ‘Babalu’ has the toughet opening round match, catching the veteran Zayats, who has a good streak going and is 19-6 overall.
As for ‘King Mo’, he is obviously the showcase athlete of the tournament as he has been a standout in his career, and Bellator likely invested a great deal bringing him in, despite not having the UFC to bet against. He is coming off a PED suspension, and will fight Przemyslaw Mysiala in round 1, but expectations are high for him to shine in MMA and continue crossing over to TnA Wrestling as part of the SPIkE deal. Frankly, he was a complete dud in his TnA debut as a ring ‘enforcer’ – he better come back strong in MMA.
The rest of the tournament features average names, not the improved line up that Bellator promised. Retread Seth Petruzelli is probably the most recognizable name, and he gets relative unknown Jacob Noe in the opening round.
If we get a final of ‘Babalu’ and ‘King Mo’ and a few exciting fights as the euros die off in the tournament, Bellator will get what they want.
But what they talked about – stand out, world class talent for Season 8, hascertainly not materialized.