In case you didn’t get enough Bellator after last week’s big-top event, which featured such classic bouts as Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 and Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie, you can get another helping when Bellator presents another card on Feb. 26.
This card features another rematch in the main event. But instead of two old-timers, we get two stars on the rise when Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao looks to avenge a previous loss to Eduardo Dantas. So what else can you expect from this card?
Rebecca Ruth (5-1) vs. Lena Ovchynnikova (10-3) (Women’s Flyweight – 125 lbs.)
Bellator is looking into tap into the relatively unknown, but talent-rich, women’s flyweight division. Ovchynnikova makes her Bellator debut after starting her career with a victory over Svetlana Svetlana (no, really, look it up) and an 8-fight winning streak. Ovchynnikova also counts the UFC’s Joanne Calderwood as an opponent.
Ruth is also making her Bellator debut and is currently on a 3-fight win streak of her own, after losing to the reigning Resurrection Fighting Alliance women’s strawweight champion Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. That loss is Ruth’s only fight that didn’t result in a TKO finish, while Ovchynnikova seems to have a proclivity for submissions. I like Ruth to keep her TKO streak alive.
Winner: Ruth by TKO
Kendall Grove (22-15) vs. Francisco France (13-3-1) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)
Grove’s history in the UFC is well-known, and he’s coming off a TKO victory over fellow former UFC veteran Joey Beltran. Grove also took former Bellator middleweight champion Brandon Halsey to the fourth round before succumbing to strikes. So we know that “Da Spyder” is as tough as they come.
France is undefeated in his last seven fights (albeit with one draw) and submitted Ben Reiter in his Bellator debut last year. If France tries to grapple with the rangy Grove, it will be a short night. France hasn’t faced a fighter as savvy and skilled as Grove, and I think Grove uses his length and grappling to keep his good fortune in Bellator alive.
Winner: Grove by unanimous decision
Cheick Kongo (23-10-2) vs. Vinicius Spartan (8-3) (Heavyweight – 225 lbs.)
Bellator has been pretty good to the former UFC veteran Kongo – he’s amassed a 5-2 record, with the only two losses coming to Vitaly Minakov and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal. Kongo defeated former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in his last fight and is angling for an opportunity of his own at the belt.
Spartan is riding a two-fight win streak and all of his eight victories came via finish. Kongo likes to grind his way through a fight and look for the finish. Kongo’s career seems to be revitalized in Bellator, and I think he continues his push to bring the heavyweight title back into Bellator’s regular rotation.
Winner: Kongo by TKO
David Rickels (16-4) vs. Bobby Cooper (12-5) (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)
Rickels is looking to bounce back after a first-round loss to Michael Chandler in his last fight, and will also seek redemption in front of his fellow Kansans. Cooper is coming off a close victory over Pablo Villaseca in his last fight and is undefeated in his Bellator career. But I like “The Caveman” to get back on track in front of his hometown crowd.
Winner: Rickels by unanimous decision
Marcos Galvao (17-6-1) vs. Eduardo Dantas (17-4) (Bantamweight Title – 135 lbs.)
Galvao has waited a long time to avenge his 2013 loss to Dantas. Galvao also has a newfound nose for finishing fights, after taking many of his early fights to a decision. Galvao won the bantamweight title last year after making former champion Joe Warren scream audibly in pain via a kneebar.
Dantas has only lost once in his Bellator career – coincidentally to Warren. Galvao claims he wasn’t 100 percent in their previous meeting and is lauding his Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Dantas likes to drag fights out and look for a submission, which runs up against Galvao’s desire to finish fights quickly. I think Galvao evens the score with his old rival and sets up a possible trilogy.
Winner: Galvao by submission