Tonite at the Convention Center in Visalia, California Bellator 102 goes down featuring a set of Heavyweight and Middleweight tournament semi-finals. The Heavyweight tournament features Mark Godbeer taking on UFC veteran Cheick Kongo and has Vinicius Queroz taking on Lavar Johnson. The big news leading up to the tournament was UFC rejects Kongo and Johnson turning up with Bellator contracts, and it reflects in lines that have both of the UFC veterans favored.
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Bellator has been criticized for using a lot of UFC veterans, as most observers feel it gives the company a distinct ‘B’ class look. And though that may be the case, the company saw a perfect scenario lay out for them at Bellator 101, a card replete with UFC veterans. They all lost (Rich Clementi, John Alessio, Marcus Davis) and it improves the resume on the the fighters who won (Alexander Sanravsky, Ricardo Turloni and Will Brooks). Cutting the losers immediately might further strengthen the point, though they are unlikely to do that.
The lines for the Heavyweights tonite are set with Kongo a big favorite at (-500) with Godbeer returning (+390). Johnson is a closer (+225) favorite over Quieroz, who sits at (+190).
Godbeer hopefully can bring some good old fashioned British fighting fury and fire to this fight. Nicknamed “The Hands of’” Godbeer, he has a few KO’s to his record, but he was also stopped. I doubt he has the skill or conditioning of Kongo, but if he doesn’t get hit and dropped by Kongo, he might have a chance. Kongo has not fought with fire in a long time, and his chin has been iffy. Also, it will be interesting to see how he reacts to what will likely be a distinctively smaller time atmosphere than he is used to at UFC.
Johnson too is a guy who does what he does, and that is punch. He has shown a disdain for a complete MMA game, and that is where you have to feel that Quieroz has a chance in this fight. At 6’7, he is going to be long and tall, presenting Lavar with potential problems. If he gets it to the ground, where he has finished fights, he should be able to dominate Johnson.
Godbeer and Quieroz are relatively new faces. Quieroz is 1-1 in Bellator, beating Mark Hollata and losing to current champion Alexander Volkov. A win for QUieroz over a UFC veteran will hlep his resume, and have the effect of bumping up the champion VOlkov’s credibility as well.