Bellator 90 Welterweight and Light Heavyweight Tournament Preview
Bellator 90 comes to us from Salt Lake City, Utah live on Spike TV with a pair of season 8 welterweight and light heavyweight tournament semi-final bouts with the main event being the season 7 featherweight tournament final as a cherry on top. The night is filled with dark horses and massive favorites, so it should be interesting to see how this week's brackets shake out..
Headlining the tournament fights are King Mo (9-1) and Emanuel Newton (19-7-1) battling it out on the right side of the light heavyweight semifinal bracket. We last saw Mo knock out Przemyslaw Mysiala at Bellator 86 and Newton grinding out a win over Atanas Djambazov at Bellator 85. Even though Mo has elite wrestling, this fight could almost be billed striker vs. grappler, that's how evolved Mo's stand up has become. Newton is a former Maximum Fighting Championship light heavyweight champ, and he's been around the fight game for a long time. Normally, his strategy would be to use his size and takedowns to dominate his opponent, but that will prove to be tough against Mo's physicality and general fight IQ. We have King Mo the big favorite at -505 to Newton at +335.
First up, in the welterweight semi-final bracket, is season five tournament finalist; Ben Saunders (15-5-2). This is Saunders third crack at winning the welterweight tournament, and he's standing across the cage from Raul Amaya (11-1) a scrappy 27-year-old out of Florida who has finished every fight he's won (6 subs, 5 TKO) with an aggressive style that has yet to betray him. This is without a doubt Amaya's toughest fight ever, as Ben Saunders is a crafty veteran with a slick ground game and good stand up, especially looking great from the clinch. Amaya will more than likely try to push the pace while staying outside, wanting no part of Saunders' rubber-guard even if he did get the takedown. This is a tough fight for Amaya, but it isn't a complete 'gimme' for Saunders, we have the veteran Saunders the clear favorite at -350 to Amaya's +250.
Next is a fight between two men who are a perfect example of the beauty of the tournament format. Mikhail Zayats (20-6) advanced to light heavyweight the semi-finals with a devastating spinning-backfist to the skull of Babalu Sobral, knocking him out and shocking the world with a fairly large upset at Bellator 86. His opponent, Jacob Noe 11-1-1), was an underdog in his quarterfinal matchup against Seth Petruzelli at the same event, but Noe took advantage of a Petruzelli slip/injury and was able to finish the heavy-handed vet with a strong bit of ground and pound. Now, they face each other for a chance at the finals which holds a cool hundred grand in prize money (not to mention a shot at the title) if they can string just two more wins together. Zayats is the more complete martial artist, but Noe has the size advantage. This is going to be a closely fought battle, so we have Zayats the slight favorite -180 to Noe's dog +140. Good fight.
In the next welterweight semi-final, Bryan Baker (18-4) makes a return to the welterweight tournament by replacing an injured Brent Weedman. This is familiar territory for Baker, who has made it to both the middleweight and welterweight tournament finals before losing to Karl Amoussou and Alexander Shlemenko, respectively. His opponent is the monster Douglas Lima (23-5), two wins removed from a loss at the hands of Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren and on a mission to get a rematch. Both of these guys are huge welterweights with questionable stamina. Lima hits like a truck and Baker is no slouch. Between the two of them, there are 19 knockout wins and over a dozen submission victories, so expect both of them to leave it all in the cage. Bryan Baker may be rested, but Lima is close to elite. We have Lima the fairly clear favorite -230 to Baker's +170.