Bellator Fighting Championship returns to the Power and Light District in Kansas City, Missouri on October 14 with not one world championship, but two! Wrestling standout and training partner of UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (5-1), “Polar Bear” Cole Konrad (6-0) takes on dangerous South African striker “Goliath” Neil Grove (10-2) for the Bellator World Heavyweight Championship in what should be an exciting back-and-forth war. In the second title offering, submission specialist “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (11-2) faces “Wild” Ed West (15-4) for the Bellator World Bantamweight Championship. To round off the evening, season two Welterweight Semi-Finalist “The Tank Engine” Ryan Thomas (11-5) returns to take on Judo expert Jim Wallhead (19-5) for a spot in the Season Four Welterweight Tournament alongside MMA Gospel Young Gun “The Assassin” Chris Lozano (6-0) in what should be an exciting match-up.
For the main event of the night, a heavyweight world championship bout between Konrad and Grove, we have a match of style vs. style. Konrad is a strong wrestler with solid positional control whereas Grove is a skilled striker with KO power. Konrad has won all of his fights in Bellator by decision while Grove has spent just a little over two minutes in a Bellator cage, winning both of his fights by TKO. If Konrad hopes to win this fight he will have to use his wrestling to control Grove, while Grove only needs one shot to drop Konrad and finish the fight with his vicious ground and pound. Grove is also physically powerful as he showed when he man handled both “Dirty” Eddie Sanchez (13-4) and Alexey Oleinik (9-6-1). Don’t blink during this fight! If this bout goes pass the first round it may be in Konrad’s favor, especially if Grove’s untested gas tank isn’t up to snuff. However Konrad has never been a finisher and fifteen minutes is a long time to outlast a one shot killer like Grove.
The co-main event of the evening between Makovsky and West will be an action-filled fight for the bantamweight belt. Both men are very experienced, have very well-rounded skill sets, and have finished the majority of their bouts via submission. If Bellator pays out Fight of the Night Awards, this one will be a shoe-in. The lighter weight classes may have more decisions but each one is constant action from bell to bell. At the end of the night only one warrior can be crowned the Bellator Bantamweight Champion, and the smart money is with Makovsky. He has finished more fights using a similar style to West so we get an apples-to-apples comparison. Expect him to be slightly superior in every round in route to a split decision victory.
In a feature welterweight fight, Ryan Thomas faces Jim Wallhead to fill a spot in the eight-man Season Four Welterweight Tournament. Thomas is seeking another shot at the welterweight title and a rematch with season two winner Ben Askren (6-0). Standing in his way is Wallhead, a Judo specialist who is making his Bellator debut and hopes to derail “The Tank Engine” and seal his own place in the season four tournament. Thomas’ Bellator career hasn’t played out like he hoped. After a premature stoppage against his rival Askren, he rebounded with a win over Jacob McClintock (6-2) in a solid TKO win only to lose to Askren again by decision. Askren’s wrestling overpowered and canceled out Thomas’ striking abilities. Wallhead is a judo specialist who could take something from Askren’s book and use his ground skills to control Thomas and frustrate him. Despite this, Thomas still has the upper hand. Ryan undoubtedly been working on his takedown defense at American Top Team and should be able to create just enough opportunity to cash in on the puncher’s chance for a second round TKO.
As always, it would be a bad idea to miss Bellator if you’re an MMA fan. The fledgling promotion is again delivering a card which promises to be exciting and action packed. With two title fights and two fights to seal a place in the season four tournament brackets, a fan could hardly ask for more, especially from a card free on cable TV.