The Cocopath Resort and Casino will host Bellator Fighting Championships as it rolls into the copper state of Arizona for Bellator 41 tomorrow night. Two super fights take place on the card as Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (6-1) takes on Ring of Combat and Shooto veteran “Loro” Marcos Galvão (9-3) in a non-title bout and Bellator Bantamweight Champion “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (12-2) faces undefeated “Robo” Chad Robichaux (11-0) who has submitted all of his opponents with the exception of just one. The resilient Daniel Straus (15-2) goes against hard nosed “The Tooth Fairy” Kenny Foster (9-2) and dangerous striker “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (7-1) rematches the first and only Elite XC Bantamweight Champion Wilson Reis (12-2) in the semi-finals of the Season 4 Featherweight Tournament to kick off the evening, with the winners moving on to the finals and vying for a chance to wrestle the title away from outspoken champ Joe Warren. The night undoubtedly has all the makings of a typically exciting Bellator card. Here, MMA Gospel takes a closer look at how the evening may pan out.
Wilson Reis vs. Patricio Freire: Fan favorite Wilson Reis is coming off an aggressive first round submission win over Zac George (18-4) and he’s stated that he fixed his weak points and will always look for the finish from now on. Reis is known for his tough as nails, in the trenches fighting style and his new found resolve will only make his bouts more warlike. He will have his chance for revenge and to prove he means what he says when he takes on the young and dangerous “Pitbull” Freire. Freire defeated Reis in the Season 2 semi-finals, where he used his fast pace and Jiu-Jitsu skills to slow down Reis. Freire is fresh off a third round TKO win over “Insane” Georgi Karakhanyan (15-3) and has his sights set on Joe Warren wherever he goes. This could be bad for Freire, if he is dead set on defeating Joe Warren he could be overlooking the rest of the tournament field including the man in front of him and Reis is not a man to be taken lightly. Reis hasn’t been past the semi-finals since he entered the first Bellator featherweight tournament, though he’s sure that the third time is his charm. Reis is a slight underdog against Freire as well but that will only fuel his fire to defeat the “Pitbull”. This could be a long night for this pair of featherweights, since the men will likely throw down for three rounds to decide the winner. Reis will strike, wrestle, and even attempt to submit Freire as he does what he does best by using a brutal onslaught to cause the fight to degenerate into a tooth-and-nails brawl. Freire has stopping power in his hands but his chance for victory lies in using his Jiu-Jitsu to prevent Reis from turning the fight into a trench war. He will look to control the action on the mat, but getting the stronger Reis there will be a little more difficult this go ’round. Reis should be able to turn this bout into his kind of fight by the second round. Reis via Split Decision.
Daniel Straus vs. Kenny Foster: Straus is enjoying an unbeaten streak that stretches back to mid-2009 and most recently earned a win over Nazareno Malegarie (20-1) at Bellator 37 in March. He was successful in handing the young Brazilian black belt the first loss of his professional career. Kenny Foster is also coming off a nice win, his over Eric Larkin (3-1). Foster dominated the young wrestling star from the opening bell until Larkin tapped due to a tight choke within the first round of the fight. Foster and Straus both defeated relatively unknown fighters to move on into the semi-finals, thus rendering predictions of either man’s performance in the advanced rounds of the tournament somewhat of a toss-up. Straus is a big featherweight but has shown signs of gassing in the later rounds. This could be a major problem against Foster who has shown a rather reliable gas tank in his previous bouts. Straus can take the fight anywhere as he showed in his fight with Malegarie and Foster can do the same as he showed against Larkin, but unlike Straus, Foster didn’t struggle to gain the upper hand. Foster and Straus will have a war on the feet and on the mat where they each have claimed victories but the slight edge goes to Foster to take the victory. At the end of the day, both men can fight hard, but Foster can do it longer. Look for a hectic three minutes with close calls on both sides before Straus begins to slow down and Foster takes control. Foster via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1.
Zach Makovsky vs. Chad Robichaux: Since he joined the organization’s ranks Bellator’s 135lbs. champ “Fun Size” Makovsky has yet to face an opponent who can keep up with him. In his title fight against Ed West (16-5) last October, Makovsky out worked and controlled West for five solid rounds to claim Bellator gold and the bulk of his previous bouts tell the same story. This will be his first fight since that victory as he takes on undefeated submission expert Chad Robichaux. With eight first round submission victories, Robichaux is a solid test for the young champion. Should the fight go to the ground Robichaux could cancel out the superior wrestling of Makovsky by using his slick guard work to set up a submission or even sweep the wrestler to his back. Makovsky has to be careful when the fight goes to the mat though, as a loss could damage his dominant aura and if the hold damages a joint or muscle he could be out for an extended period of time. Makovsky’s wrestling does, however, provide the key to victory. He can use his wrestling to keep the action on the feet until he sees Robichaux tiring, and since Robichaux has seen the third round only once in his career, the element of stamina is on Makovsky’s side. Makovsky will likely pepper Robichaux from the outside and stuff his takedowns until the later part of the second round before he turns it up and starts hammering on him. A tough fight for both men but Makovsky will fight smart and keep his undefeated streak in Bellator alive by waiting to take it to the mat until Robichaux has lost the strength to complete his submissions from the bottom. Makovsky via Unanimous Decision.
Joe Warren vs. Marcos Galvão: Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren is not only a stand-out wrestler but he also seems to feel the need to draw the cameras and attention to him time and time again. As he joined commentators Jimmy Smith and Sean Wheelock for the featherweight quarter-finals, the others seemed to grow tired of his condescending remarks. However what is in question here is who will walk out of the cage with another victory to his name – not determining the most likable fighter. Still, it can’t hurt that many of Bellator’s 145ers may have a nagging urge to take some of the wind out of Warren’s sails. His challenger, Shooto and WEC veteran Marcos Galvão, is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with impressive grappling credentials that round out his skill set rather nicely. To his credit: one Grapplers Quest Pro Division Championship, five Brazilian National Championships, and a pair of World Championships. Don’t expect NCAA Div. I wrestler Joe Warren to give Galvão any accolades though, as he is particularly confident in his own ground skills. Warren’s gameplan will likely entail taking the fight to the canvas where he can maintain top position and pound out Galvão or at least remain dominant enough for the duration of the bout to win on the judges’ score cards. Despite Galvão’s impressive credentials and efforts to keep the fight in his own wheelhouse, he likely won’t be able to avoid the takedown attempts of the champion for very long, and once he gets taken to the mat, it could be just the beginning of a very long night for the Brazilian. Warren via Unanimous Decision.