We are less than 24 hours away from Bellator MMA’s biggest and grandest show to date, as they and GLORY kickboxing team up to present Dynamite 1 from San Jose, California. The “1” indicates we’ll have more of these in future years. The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions, and to my surprise we have several people going with Tito Ortiz to knock off Liam McGeary. To my non-surprise, everyone has Josh Thomson beating Mike Bronzoulis.
This is a bit of a new experience for us in picking these fights, so the format for this show is different than any other Bellator MMA or UFC or Strikeforce predictions post we’ve done in the past. We are picking none of the GLORY prelims, and the only Bellator prelim in here is the LHW tournament alternate bout. Everything else is on the main card and separated into categories. Additionally, with a one-night LHW tournament in place, we’ve submitted our tournament winner outright and the semifinal predictions lead up to our selections. You’ll want to read Tim Burke’s, for sure.
NOTE 1: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected on Friday. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Tuesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
NOTE 2: Phil Mackenzie’s Carmont prediction is edited to reflect the fact that Anthony Ruiz replaced Roy Boughton this morning, and only Zane Simon entered his prediction after the news was broken.
Bellator MMA fights
Liam McGeary vs. Tito Ortiz
Mookie Alexander: Tito hasn’t been in a scheduled five-round fight since the Chuck Liddell rematch in 2006 (!). I ain’t trusting him for a second to handle an additional two rounds at his age and at this stage of his career. Ortiz won’t go away quietly and he may give McGeary trouble with his wrestling, but if McGeary wants to consider himself the best LHW in the world, he’s got to at least show he’s the best LHW in Bellator. If he can’t, then this division is s-c-r-e-w-e-d. Working his submissions from the bottom probably won’t work against Tito, but the odds that he can hurt and drop Ortiz with his powerful stand-up are pretty damn favorable to me. Ortiz is competent at best and predictable at worst on the feet, and McGeary can win there and perhaps seal it with ground-and-pound against a gassed Tito in the middle rounds. Liam McGeary by 3rd round TKO
Phil Mackenzie: Honestly, I didn’t expect Tito to beat either Shlemenko or Bonnar, but somehow he appears to have… well, not exactly returned to his prime, but the escalating injury damage seems to have planed off and he’s able to fight as an approximation of his early self. The weirdest thing here is that he has such a clear, obvious avenue to victory- McGeary spent a huge amount of time working for subs off his back against Newton, and that’s just not historically a way to beat Tito. However, he’s younger, stronger, in his prime, and I don’t believe Tito can keep taking McGeary down for 25 minutes. A Tito win will be hilarious though. Liam McGeary by TKO, round 3.
Josh Samman: I’m with Phil in that I’ve been surprised by Tito’s last two outings. I imagine he’s limited his live training a la Robbie Lawler in order to try to add a few more years to his career, and that may be the source of his recent success. Maybe it’s just lower quality opponents. Either way I’m picking the upset here. Tito via …submission?
Fraser Coffeen: If this was a 3 rounder, I would be all over the Tito decision upset. But man – 25 minutes? That feels like a lot for Ortiz these days, who is a long way removed from his best cardio days. Still, can he eek out three rounds and survive an additional two? Probably not, but screw it. Tito Ortiz by decision
Tim Burke: Fact – Tito Ortiz rented a wallaby to train with and named it Liam before the 47th biggest fight of his life. The wallaby knocked him out three times in the last two weeks of camp. He has been returned to John Wayne Parr without a scratch on him and signed to fight Soa Palelei at UFC 193. Liam McGeary by TKO, round 2
Zane Simon: The fact that even one or two of your are falling into this Tito delusion scares me a little. Of course, if he wins after I said that, then all the crow in the world is mine for the eating, but really. Even off his back I’d pick McGeary to win this. I just don’t think Tito can stay safe against someone as dangerous as McGeary, and if he doesn’t sub him I don’t think he’ll do enough damage to win rounds. Liam McGeary by TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking McGeary: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Ortiz: Roy, Josh, Fraser
Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament
Mookie Alexander: Is it alright to say I’m kinda not that interested in this tournament? Newton is the most exciting fighter of the 4, which isn’t saying a whole lot. Matchup wise, I see Davis as too much for Newton and the 2 round format leaves too little time for Newton to pull off one of his miracle wins. Mo should be able to get past Vassell without too much trouble, leaving us with King Mo vs. Phil Davis. I uhh … am not confident about picking Phil Davis for some reason. There’s just a weird feeling where I think Davis’ MMA wrestling is actually not that great, and that Lawal stuffs the takedowns and makes it a striking battle, to which Davis may have the kicking advantage, but Mo’s boxing is better. Make no mistake about it, King Mo vs. Davis I sense is going to be a bad fight, but I’ll juuuuuust give the edge to Mr. Wonderful here by split decision. Phil Davis wins the tournament.
Phil Mackenzie: As commenter King’s Gambit pointed out, it’s like Bellator deliberately picked the most frustrating LHWs out there. I love boring and/or weird fighters, so I kind of really love this tournament? Davis-Newton is the crown jewel, one which to an extent hinges on how much more effective Davis is at MMA wrestling than the current version of King Mo. I do think Mr. Wonderful wins a top control decision, but a close and gloriously ugly kickboxing bout could be in the cards. Mo should be able to take down Vassell but as said, he seems to be on the downslope. Still, Mo by UD. In the finals, I think Davis-Mo goes to Davis as a bigger and more physical wrestler who can kick from the outside.
Stephie: Mo beats Vassell, Davis beats Newton, Davis ekes out the decision over Mo
Fraser Coffeen: Like everyone else, I see a Davis vs. Mo final, clearly. That is indeed a close, and potentially pretty ugly fight, but I don’t like Davis’s chances to just smother Mo, and I think Mo’s striking is somewhat underrated, so in a kickboxing battle, I’ll take the King. King Mo by decision over Davis in the finals.
Tim Burke: Phil Davis enters the cage in his patented pink shorts, blinding Emanuel Newton with their beauty. Mr. Wonderful comes out with a cartwheel kick that catches Newton right on the shin bone, rendering him unable to continue. In the next bout, King Mo calls the ref a dickrider one too many times and gets disqualified before the bout even starts. BUT, GSP comes out of nowhere, steals Mo’s umbrella, and takes out his knee with it.
OUT COMES FRANCIS CARMONT. THE CROWD IS SHOCKED.
Davis and Carmont manhug for 15 minutes in the most boring fight since the epic sloth wars of the 1920’s. But GSP intimidates the judges with his patented French Canadian Look of Dooooooom, and the judges agree that Carmont is the bestest. BIG THANGS 2016.
Zane Simon: If Newton beats Davis, then I’d pick him to beat Mo or Vassel. Pretty straight forward. He’s done it before, his style is perfectly suited for two fights in one night, and he can nullify the best parts of both of their games. But that’s a big if. It’s really hard for me to not take Davis to beat Newton over two rounds. Since I think that’s the case, and I expect Mo to beat Vassell, then I think Davis vs. Mo is our finale. Between Davis and Mo, I expect Davis to have the much better 3 round gas tank. Phil Davis by decision.
Staff picking Newton:
Staff picking Davis: Roy, Phil, Stephie, Josh, Mookie, Zane
Staff picking Lawal: Fraser
Staff picking Vassell:
Staff picking Carmont/Ruiz: Tim
Francis Carmont vs. Anthony Ruiz
Mookie Alexander: I’m so glad this is not on the main card. Carmont by whatever decision he wants.
Phil Mackenzie: That’s what I’m talking about Bellator! I want boring fighters and you give me Francis Carmont, even as a substitute? You’re too good to me. Francis Carmont by unanimous decision.
Tim Burke: You already know he won the tournament. Now I have to write this? Screw it, I’m not doing it.
[Editor’s note – Tim Burke has been suspended for five years by Anton Tabuena for disrespecting Brandon Vera for the third time and showing no remorse. His predictions are over.]
Zane Simon: This is actually Anthony Ruiz at the last minute. So. Francis Carmont vs. Anthony Ruiz… I actually think Ruiz will make life hell on Carmont for two rounds en-route to the loss, but he’s definitely losing. Francis Carmont by decision.
Staff picking Carmont: Roy, Phil, Stephie, Josh, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Mookie
Staff picking Ruiz:
Josh Thomson vs. Mike Bronzoulis
Mookie Alexander: Fight Master runner-up versus arguably top 10 lightweight sounds like a mismatch, doesn’t it? Bronzoulis has gotten better since then, but Thomson is way above his league, and unless we get the frustrating version of Josh Thomson who ends up making this fight way harder than it should be, he should win this in every facet. Josh Thomson by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Bronzoulis is a tough, strong, underrated fighter who might finally be coming into his own. How does he win this fight? Unless Thomson half-asses his preparation he’s the more technical kickboxer, a far superior grappler, and has a very good chin. Thomson is at that point in a long and injury-laced career when he’s clearly just taking money fights, and if he comes in looking lackadaisical then Bronzoulis is aggressive and physical enough to take advantage, but Josh Thomson by submission, round 2
Zane Simon: I don’t think Thomson really has the the ability to pull the trigger and put himself obviously above most decent competition these days, but it’d be a far fall from grace if he lost to Mike Bronzoulis. Bronzoulis has slowly gotten better and has the power to be dangerous, but that will probably just but Thomson in safety mode for a decision win. Josh Thomson by decision.
Staff picking Thomson: Roy, Phil, Stephie, Josh, Mookie, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Bronzoulis:
Glory kickboxing fights
Saulo Cavalari vs. Zack Mwekassa
Mookie Alexander: The first fight was fun, I hope the second fight is fun, and while Mwekassa is a great character and a great story, Cavalari holds the technical advantages (as Fraser notes) and while I don’t think he’ll finish Mwekassa this time, he will get a dominant decision victory. Saulo Cavalari by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: As Fraser, John, and Stephie have illustrated, this is the real main event in terms of excitement, style matchup, personality and future potential. Mwekassa is the more powerful and crafty puncher, but Cavalari showed that he was nimble enough to stay on the outside where he owned the kicking range in their last fight. Saulo Cavalari by unanimous decision
Fraser Coffeen: This fight rules, as I have made clear. Watch it! Love it! As for the fight itself, well, I am admittedly a huge mark for Mwekassa, because how can you not be? But the reality is he’s at a technical disadvantage here, and Cavalari is really hitting his stride right now. Also, as a reminder, this is a title fight, so it’s 5 rounds, and Mwekassa’s cardio is not his strength. I see the Brazilian as being too varied and having too much to offer against Zack. Sorry. Saulo Cavalari by decision
Zane Simon: I picked Mwekassa the first time because I thought he could power through the smaller Brazilian’s more technical offense. I was wrong. I doubt much has changed to make this fight way different this time, and if Mwekassa is more careful that will also just mean he’s probably less dangerous. Saulo Cavalari by decision.
Staff picking Cavalari: Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Mwekassa: Roy, Stephie: BLACK WARRIOR! MWEKASSANCE!, Josh
Paul Daley vs. Fernando Gonzalez
Mookie Alexander: Come on. You know why they booked this fight. Paul Daley by KO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: I don’t love watching Paul Daley that much anymore, in part because he seems to be an increasingly carefully managed mid-level asset. His historical lack of reliability has pigeonholed him into being an oddly irrelevant action fighter who still has a consistent spot on cards. Either he should be fighting a better kickboxer than this, or this should be an MMA bout, but I suspect Bellator want to guarantee a highlight reel KO and stacked the deck in his favour as much as possible. Meh. Paul Daley by TKO, round 2
Fraser Coffeen: Don’t be confused, this is not a Glory fight. This is a Bellator squash match in disguise. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking Daley is just an MMA fighter trying his hand at kickboxing. He’s had a lot of success in his recent kickboxing career, and would do well in Glory proper. Gonzalez gives no indication that the same is true for him. Paul Daley by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: If this were an MMA fight, I might pick Gonzalez, honestly. He has the chin to weather a storm or two and the output to push Daley’s limits late. But this is Gonzalez’s first time in big gloves, professionally and Daley is a very competent, successful kickboxer. He might disappoint and not get the KO, but I bet lack of experience will be big and Gonzalez will go down. Paul Daley by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Daley: Roy, Mookie, Stephie, Josh, Phil, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Gonzalez:
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez vs. Hadley Griffith
Mookie Alexander: Come on. You know why they booked this fight. Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez by TKO, round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: I know everyone loves how fun the new Bellator is and far be it from me to piss in their cereal, but… sometimes Coker matchmaking is a bit gross, right? I’m not educated enough in kickfighting to know how egregious this fight is, but from limited tape study it doesn’t look great. Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez by TKO, round 2
Zane Simon: Melendez has the basic tools to be a functional kickboxer, maybe even be a good fighter at some point. Her opponent is a warm body that’s scrappy and willing. Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Taylor-Melendez: Roy, Phil, Stephie, Josh, Mookie, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Griffith:
About the author