Bellator 146 comes to you live on Friday, Nov. 20 from Oklahoma. Airing on Spike TV, the card promises a ton of action, as the matchups are interesting and they have provided many strikers to suffice your appetite for violence.
In the main event, fellow strikers Hisaki Kato and Melvin Manhoef will duke it out with intentions of throwing themselves into the middleweight title picture. Both men represent opposite points in their respective careers. Manhoef has passed him prime and there are serious questions surrounding his career at this point. On the other side, Kato is coming off the biggest win of his career and is looking to further solidify his resume with the scalp of a legend.
Also featured on the card are a number of prospects looking to increase their stock. Amongst those names are fighters like Bubba Jenkins, Chidi Njokuani, Brandon Girtz, Mark Dickman and Ben Reiter. All of these men represent the future of the sport, and will be looking to build themselves up while tearing down their opponent.
Although there are not names like Kimbo Slice or Bobby Lashley adding an unorthodox method to this card, these fights seem to be a collection of interesting affairs. You will watch the continued development of fighters who will be in this spot for some time to come. Without further ado, let’s take a look at Bellator 146’s card, preview each fight and pick some winners.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Hisaki Kato
Fresh off a Knockout of the Year contender, Hisaki Kato jumps into a main event just six fights into his pro MMA career. Kato scored a devastating Superman punch KO of Joe Schilling, a man many people believed to be a superior striker. That same notion comes into this fight. Melvin Manhoef, despite a deteriorating chin, throws every strike with bad intentions. His kicks are thunderous, his punches are bone breaking and his knees are lethal. Many people have lost confidence in Manhoef, including myself. However, I think he has the chops to test Kato’s chin and break through it at some point. Otherwise, Manhoef needs to hang up the gloves.
Jordan Parson vs. Bubba Jenkins
A pair of wrestlers will meet in the co-main event, as Bubba Jenkins and Jordan Parson look to move up the crowded featherweight ladder. Parsons played spoiler in his last fight, as he submitted previously 30-0 Julio Cesar Neves at Bellator 137. He looks to play spoiler again, as he takes on decorated wrestler Jenkins who has been a star with Bellator for a while. He is athletic, explosive and improving the biggest hole in his game, which is his striking. Parsons will give him a tough fight, but Jenkins should walk out of Oklahoma with a win under his belt.
Ricky Rainey vs. Chidi Njokuani
Two strikers, one Bellator cage; don’t miss this fight between Ricky Rainey and Chidi Njokuani because it promises fireworks. Rainey can match fire with fire, though he will need to avoid staying in the pocket too long with Njokuani. Njokuani has strong kicks and heavy hands, using his aggression to score with both frequently. This will likely be Fight of the Night, as Njokuani wins this barn burner with superior standup skills.
Brandon Girtz vs. Derek Campos
Fresh off his win over Melvin Guillard, Brandon Girtz returns to the cage to take on a tough fighter in Derek Campos. Campos has continually fought tough guys throughout his career to mixed results. He has power and skill in most places, but will really need to use his counter-wrestling against Girtz. I expect Girtz to look for the shot early and often against Campos, as he did with Guillard. That’s why he will grind out another victory here.
Houston Alexander vs. Guilherme Viana
Kicking off the main card are two strong light heavyweights in Houston Alexander and Guilherme Viana. Viana is a TUF Brazil 3 outcast who has had ups and downs in his eight-fight career. However, he is fresher in his MMA career, while Alexander has struggled immensely in recent times. He always has the ability to finish fights with one strike, but his cardio is suspect and he hasn’t been able to secure a win in recent times. Viana will score the win here, as Alexander’s nose dive after a promising start to his career continues.
Zach Rosol vs. Alonzo Menifield
A pair of inexperienced fighters will fight next in Zach Rosol and Alonzo Menifield. Rosol has the only pro bout between them, which was a win early in 2014. Menifield jumps to the pro ranks after fighting as an amateur as recently as August, where he was winning his bouts via knockout. Menifield has looked solid so far, so I will pick him to score another quick KO here against Rosol.
Stephen Banaszak vs. George Pacurariu
When it came to prospects a few years ago, George Pacurariu was on my radar. He took some losses along the way, falling off the map, but he was at least exciting — win, lose or draw. Here he has Stephen Banaszak, a sub-.500 fighter who has not instilled much confidence in his game. Pacurariu has a penchant for violence, so expect him to headhunt from the outset. He will blast Banaszak, earning a stoppage in the process.
Treston Thomison vs. Chris Jones
It’s Texas vs. Oklahoma in the next bout, as Chris Jones takes on Treston Thomison, respectively. Jones has not fought in almost two years, and before that, he had some good performances under his belt. Thomison hasn’t fought in over a year, though, so it might even out. Thomison has taken losses to low-level guys, which makes him always suspect. The losses of Jones have been against better competition. His experience against tough opponents will allow Jones to thrive here.
Eli Tamez vs. Roshaun Jones
In what looks to be a showcase for Eli Tamez, Roshaun Jones will look to spoil the fun and put his name ahead of the undefeated Texan. Jones has a tall task, as Tamez is relentless and good on the ground. Tamez has taken on some good opponents and has already fought under the bright lights of promotions like Legacy FC. He should dominate here and score an easy victory.
Justin Patterson vs. Sean Holden
Two Texas-based welterweights meet up when undefeated Justin Patterson takes on Sean Holden. Patterson is a big, strong 170-pounder who has gone 6-0 as a pro thus far. He muscles opponents around and finishes at a high rate. Holden goes to decision a lot, and has not really fought high-level competition. I see Patterson bullying Holden around here, scoring a finish along the way.
Bubba McDaniel vs. Ken Jackson
Bubba McDaniel and Ken Jackson fought not long ago, and now they rematch under the Bellator banner. In their first meeting, McDaniel earned a fight-round submission over Jackson, who has a very suspect record. I don’t see this fight going much different. McDaniel has fought some very tough competition to some success, and most of that competition is levels above Jackson skill-wise.
Mark Dickman vs. Israel Giron
Mexican veteran Israel Giron is looking to move up the Bellator ladder, but top prospect Mark Dickman is in the way. There is not much analysis here. Dickman is very explosive and athletic with great wrestling, which will be too much for Giron. Expect a healthy does of shoot, hold and punish on the ground.
Julia Budd vs. Roberta Rovel
In theory, Marloes Coenen is likely waiting for an opponent to fight for a vacant Bellator featherweight championship; Julia Budd vs. Roberta Rovel could provide that opponent. Rovel is a solid prospect from Brazil, but this will be her first time fighting outside the country, which could cause some jitters. Budd is a physical specimen with great takedowns and powerful ground-and-pound. That is what she will use to get by Rovel here.
Ben Reiter vs. Francisco France
Two of Bellator’s brightest middleweight prospects will clash when Ben Reiter and Francisco France meet up. This is going to be a very good fight. On one hand, you have a well-rounded wrestler that has looked very strong since coming to Bellator. On the other hand, France is a submission fighter who may dissuade Reiter from taking him down. That could turn this into a striking match, where I think Reiter should have the advantage.
Arlene Blencowe vs. Gabrielle Holloway
Arlene Blencowe and Gabrielle Holloway are both boxers, which is why their impending bout is going to be an interesting one. Blencowe is far more decorated as a professional boxer, which would seemingly make her superior on the feet. Outside of her loss to Marloes Coenen, she has looked very improved as of late. Holloway is bigger and could surprise us, but I think Blencowe will outbox Holloway to another Bellator victory.
Andre Santos vs. Josh Neer
A pair of long-time vets of MMA return to Bellator next in an intriguing welterweight matchup. Josh Neer, an exciting striker, takes on tough-as-nails Brazilian Andre Santos, who is coming off a respectable loss to Paul Daley. Neer loves to box, but Santos can hang on the feet. The difference is that Santos is also skilled on the ground, so he has more than one way to beat Neer here.