Tonight (Nov. 15, 2013) on Spike TV, the lingering ghost of what was to be Bellator’s first PPV continues to haunt the hallowed halls of Bjorn Rebney’s fight promotion built atop an Indian reservation, scarily close to a a burial ground. The way things have gone for Bellator over the last year, you would think they were cursed, but for now, they’ve made it to Atlantic City, home of Nucky Thompson, to give Rampage a fight for better or worse. In the main event, in what is now a catchweight fight of 210 pounds, Rampage Jackson (32-11) will be making his promotional debut against UFC castoff Joey Beltran (14-9-1). Between both of these guys, we are looking at a 1-5-1 combined record since the beginning of 2012. yes, mid to late January of 2011 is the last time either of these main eventers won, and to get specific, Rampage hasn’t won since he defeated Matt Hamill at UFC 130 in May of 2011. Beltran’s last win came outside the UFC between stints with the promotion, over Anton Talamates at C3 fights. Inside the promotion, it was UFC 131 against Aaron Rosa. In other words, these men have seen better days. This fight was originally supposed to be at 205, and that’s actually what Beltran wanted, but Rampage got his way and will make the weight cut a little easier on himself. Beltran used to compete at heavyweight in the UFC, and you could say this will be a battle that should end in a knockout, but if that doesn’t happen in the first round then it could likely go to a decision. Combined these two have 25 knockouts, but once again, they haven’t knocked anyone out in years. Maybe tonight is the night the streak ends? A knockout is just as likely as a decision that leaves both men gasping for air. This is not the main event Bellator fans deserve, but it is the one they’re going to get. The co-main event features some Russian on Russian action, which surely pleases the Bellator scout team, who truly loves their Eastern European imports. Summer Series winner Vitaly Minokov (12-0) blazed his way through the competition, and added notches to his belt with finishes over Ron Sparks and Ryan Martinez with relative ease. The champion is Alexander Volkov (19-3) winner of 10 fights in a row, and owner of 14 knockouts overall. Both men, obviously have a strong sambo background, given their Russian upbringing, with Minokov being the more decorated grappler, with a host of gold medals in sambo competitions across Russia. Volkov trains at Red Devil fighting club, former home of the Emelianenko bros, and is a little less apt at finishing his opponents than Minokov. It could be the competition, as Volkov has decision wins over Richard Hale, Ricco Rodriguez and Brett Rogers, while Minokov hasn’t seen the judges in over three years. Volkov is a tough fight for just about anyone in the Bellator heavyweight decision, but Minokov is a different breed of Russian bear, and if he gets this fight to the ground, the champion is in trouble. Volkov and Minokov match up well on the feet, with Volkov possibly holding a slight edge, but Minokov has the submission and takedown skills Volkov just doesn’t have. This is an interesting fight, and should be fun to watch. In the season nine featherweight finals, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (20-2) makes his third trip to said final bracket, and he will face renewed Strikeforce vet Justin Wilcox (13-5-1) who has looked the best he perhaps ever has in his 34th year on this planet earth. Since losing his latest grab at the featherweight strap to the tune of a split-decision loss to Pat Curran at Bellator 85, Pitbull has looked as vicious as ever. He’s torn through the season nine featherweight tournament, destroying UFC vet Diego Nunes and somewhat destroying Fabricio Gueirreiro at Bellator 103, and he comes into this fight against Wilcox as the favorite. Wilcox, for his part, has looked every bit of the hard-nosed wrestler he was billed as coming into the tournament. He rallied back from being dominated early in his Bellator 99 fight against Akop Stepanyan, and finished Stepanyan with a rear naked choke. He looked good in his unanimous decision win over Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 103, but this is a case of Pitbull, the monster, coming in with his eyes on the prize against a veteran looking for one final run at some semblance of greatness. Wilcox’s ridiculous amount of heart is the x-factor here, as Pitbull obviously has a history of losing these big fights, very specifically by split decision, but those losses were to competition better than Wilcox, one would think at first glance. Pitbull’s two losses come from Pat Curran and Joe Warren, which, when combined, kind of form a Justin Wilcox. Interesting. In a feature fight, Marcos Galvao (13-6-1), a long-time Bellator vet and winner of the season six bantamweight tournament, taking on virtual unknown and Super Fight League veteran Tom McKenna (7-3). McKenna is a wrestler with good submission skills, logging six submission wins in his three-year MMA career, but he’ll be having a hard time locking something in against Galvao, a Nova Uniao member and BJJ blackbelt.While Galvao got knocked out by Eduardo Dantes at Bellator 89 but bounced back with a TKO win over Pilao Santana in Shooto Brazil back in June, which was only his second finish in the last three years. Galvao simply has trouble finishing fights. This fight will likely go that route, with Galvao winning a tough decision. Opening the show is Strikeforce and UFC vet Nah-Shon Burrell (10-3) fighting Jesus Martinez (8-4). This is Burrell’s fight for the taking, after somewhat struggling with better competition over the last few years. Martinez is more of a finisher than Burrell, finishing five out of his eight wins, but Burrell is the better fighter and Martinez is also taking this fight on short notice. This fight will take place at a catchweight of 180 pounds, which may be the perfect place for both of these men who have seen welterweight and middleweight fights in their career. This could be a platform for Burrell to shine, but Martinez is an aggressive fighter, so Burrell could bring it to the ground and grind out a win.
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