Even if the terms “dream match” or “dream fight” are thrown around a little too willy-nilly these days, the main event of Bellator’s latest offering might actually be worthy of those monikers. As Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix continues in order to crown a new heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir face off in the tournament’s latest offering. If any fight in MMA could be labeled a “dream fight,” this one comes awfully close.
Dillon Danis (0-0) vs. Kyle Walker (2-4) (Catchweight – 175 lbs.)
If the main event of this card didn’t feature two MMA legends, chances are good that Bellator would have made this card about Danis, who is making his pro MMA debut. His claim to fame so far is being the training partner of the UFC’s Conor McGregor, and copying McGregor’s personality and style outside of the cage.
However, Danis is also a Braziian jiu-jitsu black belt who has grappled with some of the best, including Jake Shields. It’s likely that Bellator picked Walker, who has a losing record, with the purpose to make sure Danis’ Bellator debut goes a little better than the debut of the last highly-touted prospect Bellator served up to the public – that would be Aaron Pico, who lost his debut fight at Madison Square Garden last year.
Winner: Danis by submission
Rafael Lovato Jr. (7-0) vs. Gerald Harris (25-5) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)
Harris is a late replacement after Lovato’s original opponent, John Salter, had to drop out. Harris is also making his Bellator debut has extensive experience replacement on both the regional circuit and with the UFC and former World Series of Fighting. Lovato’s last fight at Bellator 189 last year was the first to go the distance.
Harris has only lost once in nine fights since 2011, to another veteran in Josh Burkman. So even though he is stepping up on short notice, Harris is a dangerous matchup for Lovato. Harris scored a submission win in two out of his last three victories, but trying to match wits with someone as skilled in the ground game as Lovato is also dangerous. I think this fight goes the distance and is very close, and Harris pulls what some might consider an upset.
Winner: Harris by split decision
Neiman Gracie (7-0) vs. Javier Torres (10-3) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
Gracie is another undefeated grappler who has won almost all of his pro fights in Bellator and WSOF by submission. Which is understandable, given his last name. Torres hasn’t won a fight via finish in nearly three years, and he is another fighter making his Bellator debut on this card. I expect Gracie to take Torres down early and often, and will likely lock in another submission and make his family proud.
Winner: Gracie by submission
Emmanuel Sanchez (16-3) vs. Sam Sicilia (16-8) (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)
Sanchez has been on absolute tear lately. He is 6-1 in his last seven fights and is likely one more win away from a title shot. His last three wins are against a who’s-who in one of the deepest divisions in all of MMA – Georgi Karakhanyan, Marcos Galvao and former Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus.
Sicilia looked like a refreshed fighter in his Bellator debut last year, when he also defeated Galvao. But Sanchez looks like a man on a mission and finally ready to break through and become a bonafide title contender. Sicilia is a tough and scrappy fighter, and he will make Sanchez earn every inch. Sanchez will use his ground skills to outwork Sicilia and likely secure himself a featherweight title shot.
Winner: Sanchez by unanimous decision
Fedor Emelianenko (36-5) vs. Frank Mir (18-11) (Heavyweight – 225 lbs.)
This is the latest installment in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, and these two are looking to join Chael Sonnen and Matt Mitrione as having advanced in the tournament. This is Mir’s first fight in Bellator and his first fight overall in more than two years, after losing his last fight in the UFC via knockout to Mark Hunt.
This fight is only Fedor’s second in Bellator, after being knocked out by Mitrione at Bellator’s event at Madison Square Garden last year. As I said at the beginning, this has been a “dream match” for many MMA fans since Fedor and Mir were dominating in Pride and the UFC, respectively. Even if this fight is happening 10 years too late, it should hopefully still be the spectacle that many expect.
Mir is still one of the most dangerous heavyweights on the ground and if he gets Fedor there, he may very well take home the arm of who many consider the greatest heavyweight of all time. But if Fedor keeps it standing, his punching power is still very much to be feared. I think Fedor can stuff Mir’s takedown attempts and keep the fight on the feet, and Fedor will land that one devastating punch to remind everyone why many still consider him the greatest.
Winner: Fedor by knockout
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