This Saturday night Bellator Fighting Championships takes the northeastern US by storm with Bellator 39 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Headlining the event is Bellator Lightweight Champion and top five 155lbs. fighter Eddie Alvarez (19-2) putting his belt on the line for the first time against No.1 contender and Season 2 tournament winner Pat Curran (12-3). Supporting the highly electric main event though is former Bellator Welterweight Champion “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-1) fighting former Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (10-0) in the first match of Bellator’s Season 4 Welterweight Tournament semi-finals, and “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (2-0) will go to war with two-time tournament finalist and submission wizard Toby Imada (18-15) in Bellator’s first Season 4 Lightweight Tournament semi-final fight. All four semi-finalists have one thing in mind: a shot at the tournament finals and owning Bellator gold, and with four hungry fighters ready to go, there’s no way Bellator 39 won’t deliver. Who will advance to the next round? Let’s take a look at how this Saturday night could unfold.
Lyman Good vs. Rick Hawn: Both Good and Hawn looked true to form at Bellator 35 against their respective opponents and moved on to the semi-finals. Good took on the heavy handed MMA Gospel Young Gun “The Assassin” Chris Lozano (6-1) and used sharp striking to beat Lozano to the punch and win the decision victory. Hawn took on fellow Judo black belt “Judo” Jim Wallhead (18-6), however there was no Judo-based ground action. The fight went the distance and saw Hawn possessing crisp boxing and head movement as he dominated the stand-up game to earn the victory. Hawn will now take on his most dangerous opponent yet in the former champion Lyman Good. Good has revenge fueling his body to win the tournament and get his rematch with the current champion Ben Askren (7-0). Hawn has a lot of momentum coming into this fight, and his striking is becoming better with each bout, but he still has his Judo background to fall back on against Good. “Cyborg” has shown in his bout with Askren that wrestling can cause him problems, but has shown that his strength can prevent him from being in much danger once he is on his back. Hawn could set up his Judo takedowns with his striking and get the fight to the mat and control Good to the judges’ cards even if he can’t secure a submission finish.
Good has the reach advantage, the technical advantage, and a power advantage over Hawn in the striking game. Good is primarily a striker who possesses the strength of a middleweight, which he could certainly use to bully his opponent and stuff Hawn’s Judo to punish him on the outside. Hawn knows he is the underdog in this fight, perhaps even in the entire final four. An upset win over Good will put him in the finals and in the minds of the other fighters. Good knows it’s do-or-die in this fight; with a win he moves to the finals and awaits his next opponent, whereas a loss sends him further away from the belt that was once around his waist. Hawn is a great fighter but has taken a big jump in competition and has never faced a kickboxer on the level of Lyman Good. Hawn will likely try to feel things out standing which will be his downfall as Good makes him pay for it with damaging shots early in the fight. Good via TKO, Round 2.
Patricky Freire vs. Toby Imada: The formerly unknown Brazilian-born Patricky Freire became a well-known factor in the Bellator picture after his knockout of former WEC champion “Razor” Rob McCullough (19-7) at Bellator 36 earlier this month. After beating up McCullough in the first round, Freire struggled in the second, but came back and dropped McCullough with a well timed counter right hook. Imada added another submission victory to his list over Josh Shockley (6-1) in the tournament quarter finals, winning the bout under a minute and twenty seconds of the opening stanza by verbal submission due to a broken arm.
Imada is perhaps the most successful man in the tournament if the least successful in claiming the prize. He made it to the finals twice and came up short, losing only to Alvarez and Curran, the men fighting for the belt at Bellator 39, in his Bellator career. Freire is looking to build a resume by taking out another top dog in the lightweight division and will look to take it by knockout or submission. Freire showed in his fight against “Razor” that he has the hands to rock anyone and the ground game to stop anyone, with several submission attempts that almost ended McCullough’s night in the first round. Imada’s game is to get to the ground, his striking is good but it’s just a set-up for the takedown and is not up to facing a KO artist like Freire. In a stand-up bout, Freire would have the upper hand in power but on the ground both men will be well versed with the slight edge going to Imada. This is possibly going to be the most action packed fight of the evening and the winner will be a clear favor to win it all in the lightweight tournament. In a close fight one would have to go with the man who has been so close to glory not once – but twice. Imada has a lot to prove that he isn’t a choker and feels a win over Freire will prove just that. Expect Imada to use his experience and submission edge to finish off the blue chipper. Imada via Rear Naked Choke, Round 2.