Do you like the possibility of seeing a memorable and quite possibly extremely violent knockout? I know I do! Then you’re going to want to tune to Bellator 146 on Friday night, as the main event features two fighters capable of delivering nothing short of fireworks.
Hisaki Kato looks to follow up his highlight reel knockout of Joe Schilling earlier this year by putting the lights out of another fighter who always looks for a quick and decisive finish – Melvin Manhoef. Who do I think wins that fight and the others on Friday’s card? Read on, dear reader. Read on.
Houston Alexander (16-12-1) vs. Guilherme Viana (6-2) (Light Heavyweight – 205 lbs.)
It seems like just yesterday that Alexander was being German suplexed repeatedly by Kimbo Slice in UFC. Seriously, it was enough to make Kurt Angle proud. But really, that happened in 2009. Since then, Alexander has bounced around the regional mixed martial arts circuit, racking up a 6-4-1 record, before joining Bellator in 2013. His record there has been spotty – he faced off against Virgil Zwicker in back-to-back fights, never to taste victory.
Alexander is coming off another loss on the regional circuit and may finally be feeling the effects of fighting into his 40s. Viana went the distance with Francis Carmont in his Bellator debut earlier this year, which is no small feat. Viana won 6 of 7 before his fight with Carmont, with all six victories coming via finish. I think Viana finds redemption here, strikes early and often and makes quick work of the aging veteran.
Prediction: Viana by first-round TKO
Chidi Njokuani (13-4) vs. Ricky Rainey (11-3) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
Njokuani is also making his Bellator debut here against Rainey, who enjoyed back-to-back knockout victories in his last two Bellator fights. Rainey has also stepped in the cage against Michael “Venom” Page and came up short, which has happened to … well, everyone else Page has faced.
Njokuani grounded out decision victories in his last three fights, so he will probably look to take Rainey to the ground early and neutralize his stand-up game. But given Rainey’s proficiency for the stand-up and experience in Bellator, he will make Njokuani’s debut an unpleasant one.
Prediction: Rainey by unanimous decision
Jordan Parsons (11-1) vs. Bubba Jenkins (9-2) (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)
This fight has the potential to steal the show. Both are hungry fighters who love to go for the finish, with Jenkins sporting a first-round submission victory over Georgi Karakhanyan. Jenkins is also considered one of the fast-rising prospects at 145, and while Parsons has the pedigree, I like Jenkins to make an emphatic statement and finish the fight.
Prediction: Jenkins by second-round TKO
Derek Campos (15-5) vs. Brandon Girtz (13-4) (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)
This is actually a rematch of a bout between the two in 2013, which Campos won via decision. Since then, Campos has faced some of Bellator’s best, albeit coming up short against Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Michael Chandler. Meanwhile, Girtz gave MMA veteran Melvin Guillard a rude welcome to Bellator in August, thoroughly outworking him on the ground en route to a decision.
Girtz is a tough, gritty fighter who’s not afraid to get down and dirty. I think he will take Campos down early and often and ground and pound his way to a decisive victory.
Prediction: Girtz by unanimous decision
Hisaki Kato (5-1) vs. Melvin Manhoef (29-12-1) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)
Finally, the fight you’ve been waiting for if you’re a fan of brutal knockouts. Everyone still remembers Kato’s INCREDIBLE knockout of Joe Schilling via Superman punch earlier this year. I mean, how could you not? It was replayed on an endless loop – even on ESPN, a rarity for any non-UFC MMA organization.
But Manhoef is no stranger to knocking people out. He has traveled the world doing so, even knocking out Mark Hunt in 18 seconds in 2008. But unfortunately, when you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Manhoef has suffered back-to-back knockout losses to Schilling and Alexander Shlemenko (however, Shlemenko’s victory was changed to a no contest when he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels) and has also suffered knockout losses to fighters like Robbie Lawler.
This should be a fun, albeit probably brief, fight. Kato and Manhoef will swing early and often looking to put their opponent away quickly. You do not want to blink when you watch this fight; you will miss something. Like Manhoef adding another epic knockout to his resume, which is what I think will happen here.
Prediction: Manhoef by first-round KO
Photo provided by Bellator MMA