The changing of the guard at the helm of Bellator means the back-to-back weekly events on Spike may soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, the pressure of pulling in enough talent to put on so many cards over a short amount of time leaves events like Bellator 125, which takes place this Friday night (Sept. 19, 2014) in Fresno, Calif., in constant flux.
Bellator 125 was originally scheduled for a co-main event featuring Brian Rogers against former WEC/UFC fighter James “Sandman” Irvin, who pulled out due to injury earlier this month and was replaced by season eight middleweight tournament runner up Brett Cooper. Just over a week later, Cooper pulled out after hurting his back and in turn has been replaced by Rafael Carvalho.
One constant has remained throughout the changes — Doug “The Rhino” Marshall — a man who once lost a heavyweight title bout to Irvin in WEC, but a man who also won and successfully defended WEC’s light heavyweight championship several times before falling to Brian Stann. He’s gone on to be a staple of Bellator and owns a knockout win over Cooper, winning the season eight tournament tournament in the process.
Marshall would have undoubtedly liked a second crack at Irvin had “Sandman” won the co-main. Cooper would have certainly liked another chance at Marshall had he been able to get past Rogers. Neither option is in play now, but Marshall still has a lot at risk against veteran kickboxer and MMA fighter Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef.
Official Bellator 125 preview and predictions below:
185 lbs.: Doug Marshall (18-7) vs. Melvin Manhoef (28-11-1, 1 NC)
Manhoef owns an impressive physique and the ability to come out of the gate fast. Few people can say they ran through the hard-headed Mark Hunt in only 18 seconds. He’s also incredibly inconsistent, winning four out of his last six but only one of his last three.
Once a durable and feared kickboxer, Manhoef has been racking up losses there too, which may rattle his confidence against Marshall. “Rhino” openly admits he loves a slobberknocker, but he would be smart to push Manhoef to the limit as opposed to brawling, as Manhoef’s muscles will gas out well before Marshall, even though they’re a similar age.
Final prediction: Marshall def. Manhoef via unanimous decision
185 lbs. Brian Rogers (11-6) vs. Rafael Carvalho (9-1)
Carvalho is on a nine fight win streak, with his only recorded loss being his professional debut. Every one of his 10 fights has been in Brazil though, and the only name that stands out to me in his victories is Gustavo Machado (Rings, KOTC, Pancrase).
Rogers would have had every reason to pull out of this fight after two changes of opponent, especially given the short amount of time he’s had to scout Carvalho. His record of late is also troublesome: 50/50 over eight fights and 2-3 in his last five. Losses to strikers like Andreas Spang and Alexander Shlemenko weren’t surprising, but losing two straight tournament quarterfinal bouts to Dan Cramer and Mikkel Parlo by decision was.
Final prediction: Carvalho via technical knockout
145 lbs. Martin Stapleton (13-3) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (17-2)
Stapleton ran up a stellar 12-1 record in England before coming to the United States, where he promptly lost his Bellator debut by first round rear-naked choke. His second attempt was a decision loss to Derek Campos, leaving Stapleton winless outside England. Yamauchi won’t make it easier for him. He’s 3-1 in Bellator and finishes 76-percent of his wins by submission. Team Alpha Male would be impressed by his rear-naked choke.
Final prediction: Yamauchi via submission
206-265 lbs. Javy Ayala (7-3) vs. Raphael Butler (8-0-1)
Butler is a boxer who was brought into Bellator with an unblemished MMA record and a ton of hype and he nearly got owned by journeyman fighter Nick Rossborough. After settling for a draw he’ll look to rebound against Ayala, a once unremarkable fighter who found his stride with knockout wins over Thiago Santos and Eric Prindle. This one should not get out of the first round and may be bowling shoe ugly if it does.
Final prediction: Butler via knockout
That’s a wrap.
Be sure to check back with us for Bellator 125 weigh in results on Thursday, as well as full results and play-by-play this Friday night on Spike TV.
See you then!
MMAmania.com – All Posts