Tonight, San Jose State University will play host to Bellator 147, the promotion’s final offering of the year, in the school’s Event Center. Fittingly, one of the biggest names they currently have on their roster is headlining in the Lightweight Main Event.
Josh “The Punk” Thomson (21-8-0, 1 NC) vs. Pablo “El Gallo” Villaseca (10-1-0)
To say Josh Thomson has been around the MMA block is putting it lightly. He had three separate stints in Strikeforce, two tenures with the UFC, as well as stop-overs in Pride, K-1 and something called the Professional Fighting Association. Long story short (I know, too late), he’s a longtime veteran of the sport. He struggled in his second go-round with the UFC after winning his first fight, coming up just short in his bid to unseat Benson Henderson (Lightweight Champ at the time) and losing the next two fights after that. However, he seems to have found new life in Bellator, submitting Mike Bronzoulis via arm-triangle in the third round of their largely one-sided fight at Bellator 142 in September to get back to his winning ways.
Playing the part of Sacrificial Lamb tonight is Pablo Villaseca, who is making his second debut with the company (he lost to Bobby Cooper in his first debut back in June before a successful one-fight pit stop with Arena Tour). At the higher levels of the sport his real strength lies in his ground game, though I have to believe that at most the two men will cancel each other out on the mat.
These two men have a combined 22 finishes in 31 wins (Thomson 5 T/KO, 10 Sub.; Villaseca 3 T/KO, 4 Sub.). They are both similarly talented in all aspects of the sport, but Thomson has a vast edge in experience and craftiness. I feel like Villaseca will fall into any trap that’s set for him in an effort to show up big against a “legend” of the sport, but I think he’s tough enough to last until the final horn. I predict Thomson UD Villaseca.
Daniel “The Weasel” Weichel (35-9-0) vs. Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan (24-4-0, 1 NC)
The Featherweight Co-Main Event is a battle of submission aces, and as always, that means the fight will go to the judge’s scorecards. These two combatants have combined for an incredible 35 career submission victories (with Weichel owning 21 of them), though neither is likely to wow anyone in the stand up game. While he should have the edge standing, if it comes to a ground battle Weichel may be at a slight disadvantage with three submission losses in his career to zero for Karakhanyan. This is Karakhanyan’s 2nd fight of his 2nd stint with the promotion, and after WSOF’s Rick Glenn snapped his 9-fight win streak, he won his most recent Bellator debut against Bubba Jenkins. Longtime M-1 vet Weichel is making his sixth appearance in the Bellator cage, and his first since losing to Patricio Freire by brutal KO. Before that loss to Patricio he had been victorious in all four of his fights with the company. I predict Weichel UD Karakhanyan.
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (14-6-0) vs. Derek “Barbaric” Anderson (12-2-0, 1 NC)
These two Lightweights have tons of talent and should give us one of the most competitive fights on the entire card. Patricky Pitbull, like his brother Patricio carries significant power into the cage, and his sole submission victory came in 2010 (he’s been 9-5 with six T/KO wins). While both men can bring the fight regardless of position, Anderson has a different approach to the fight game, sort of taking what his fellow competitors give him. This is Patricky Pitbull’s 13th Bellator fight (he’s 7-5 to this point), and he has emerged victorious in four of his last five outings. Anderson went 3-2 in his first five Bellator appearances, and he’s lost two of his last three fights. Twenty-one of their combined twenty-six wins have been finishes (Pitbull: 9 T/KO, 1 Sub.; Anderson: 5 T/KO, 6 Sub), so I’m not expecting this one to make it even to the third round. The only glaring advantage either of these men have over the other is Pitbull’s jackhammer punching power, so I predict Pitbull R2 TKO Anderson.
Virgil “Rezdog” Zwicker (14-4-1) vs. Brian “The Professional Predator” Rogers (11-8-0)
Here come the Big Fellas. These two particular Light Heavyweight fighters both like to punch the other guy’s lights out, so this one should be contested almost exclusively on the feet. They have a 19 T/KO stoppages in their 25 combined career wins (Zwicker: 10, Rogers: 9). This is Roger’s 11th Bellator fight, and he’s been 4-6 up to this point, not exactly stellar especially considering that he got knocked out in three of those losses. This is the fifth fight of Zwicker’s second stay with the promotion, and he’s compiled a 2-1-1 record so far (he won the lone fight of his first tenure as well). Zwicker has won two in a row, Rogers has lost two in a row, and I wouldn’t expect much to change here. Rogers sort of seems like a roster filler in my opinion, maybe even a convenient stat-builder, and Zwicker really should mostly cruise here. I predict Zwicker R1 TKO Rogers.
Adam Piccolotti (6-0-0) vs. “Dr. Mario” Soto (6-1-0)
Kicking off the live TV coverage and the Main Card are two young-ish skilled Lightweight prospects, Team Alpha Male fighter Soto (28 y.o.) and undefeated professional Piccolotti (27 y.o.). Soto is making his promotional debut, while this will be Piccolotti’s third appearance in the Bellator cage. They both seem to have a nose for the finish, with all six of Soto’s wins have been via stoppage (1 TKO, 5 Sub.) and four of Piccolotti’s wins ending early as well (2 TKO, 2 Sub). Both fighters here are well-rounded and I’m confident in their defensive capabilities, I’m just not sure either one has enough offense to overwhelm the other and make it a quick fight. I give the coaching edge to Soto: no offense to Piccolotti’s head coach Raul Castillo, but we all know the quality of fighters and coaches associated with the Alpha Males. Therefore, I predict Soto UD Piccolotti.