Good lord this Saturday is packed. 2 UFC cards, Andre Ward v. Sergey Kovalev, NXT Takeover and a damn good Bellator card. It almost makes me wish I had cable so I could DVR some of this. Almost. (F*ck off Comcast).
Bellator returns to the SAP Center in San Jose, California with a card headlined by a fantastic fight between Benson Henderson and the Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler. You also get to see Michael "Venom" Page, Francis Carmont and some solid prospects competing. Best of all, DJ Mark and myself will be in the building. I'm going to do my best to be professional and not sing Bendo's "Awesome God" walkout song. Check out our picks below.
Bellator Lightweight Championship
Michael Chandler (c) v. Benson Henderson:
This one just feels dirty. Bendo is one of my favorite lightweights, but I really don't like his chances in this one. He simply has not looked good since joining the Bellator roster. Bendo got flat out obliterated by Koreshkov in his Bellator debut for 25 straight minutes. After we all convinced ourselves that his performance in that fight was due to him being too small for the weight class, Bendo next took on Patrício Freire in a fight where he appeared to be gun shy. He was absolutely losing this fighter before Pitbull broke his leg in a bit of a freak accident. Chandler, conversely, bounced back from a couple hard losses to Eddie Alvarez and Will Brooks (x2) to win 3 fights including his last fight where he knocked Patricky Freire into the next dimension to capture the Bellator title. I don't like picking against Bendo and I almost never do, but I have to go with Chandler here. He simply has looked better in his recent fights. Chandler by decision.
Picking Chandler: Dr. Law
Picking Henderson: Kid P, DJ Mark, Gooms
Michael Page v. Fernando Gonzalez:
|Via MVP's IG|
At some point Bellator is going to give Michael "Venom" Page a fight where him losing wouldn't be a giant upset. This is not that fight. Fernando Gonzalez is a solid veteran fighter on a nice win streak, but let's be honest: he is not meant to beat MVP. While I appreciate that Scott Coker likes to build his fighters, I think once you cave a man's skull in with a flying knee, you're ready to fight a contender. Page is a -400 favorite in that one and it's hard to pick against him. Therefore...I wont. I think Page is going to do what he always does when he's facing an outmatched opponent. He's going to style on him. MVP by KO in round 2.
Picking MVP: All of us
Francis Carmont v. Linton Vassell:
If Lavender Gooms was writing this he would surely insert a Limitless joke here. I think he hates the movie...and the show? Is the show even still a thing? Does Mike watch all TV shows? All good questions. Francis Carmont rebounded from getting KO'd by Phil Davis by getting a victory over Łukasz "no Wikipedia page" Klinger at Bellator 158 in London. Vassell's last fight was a decision victory over former Bellator 205 pound champ Emmanuel Newton. Carmont is a very slight favorite in this fight and that makes sense because I honestly believe nobody knows what to make of this fight. Both are capable of getting it done here. I am leaning towards Carmont only because I am more familiar with his work. Carmont by decision.
Picking Limitless: Dr. Law, Gooms
Picking Vassell: Kid P, DJ Mark
Brandon Girtz v. Adam Piccolotti:
I've had the pleasure of seeing Adam Piccolotti fight live a number of times and he is truly a blue chip prospect. He's 8-0 with finishes in 6 of victories. He has his work cut out for him in this one because Brandon Girtz is a serious fighter. Girtz has victories over Derek Campos and Melvin Guillard. Piccolotti is a fantastic black belt so getting this fight to the ground has to be a priority for him. He trains at AKA so I believe the jump up in competition shouldn't be a shock to him given who he is in the training room with. I'm going to go with the prospect in this one. Piccolotti by 2nd round submission.
Picking Girtz: Gooms
Picking Piccolotti: Dr. Law, Kid P, DJ Mark
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez v. Sheila Padilla:
|Via El Nino Training Center's IG|
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez makes her MMA debut in his one against 2-0 Sheila Padilla. Keri Anne has previously competed in kickboxing and we actually saw her compete at the first Bellator Dynamite event. She was able to show quick hands and a great ability to mix up her punches and kicks to keep her opponent guessing. I am not at all familiar with Padilla, but I'm just going to assume that Scott Coker was kind enough not to match-up Taylor-Melendez with a ground specialist. I have to go with Keri Anne in this one. Taylor-Melendez by decision.
Picking Mrs. El Nino: All of us
It's MMAzing 2016 Standings (as of 11/18/16)
1. Doctor Law - (114-68-1) - .623
2. Kid Presentable - (113-69-1) - .617
3. Lavender Gooms - (108-74-1) - .590
4. DJ Mark - (107-75-1) - .585