Canada will be getting another dose of high octane MMA from its third American promotion this Saturday, July 23 as Bellator 47 drops anchor in Rama, Ontario at the Casino Rama. The event still promises not to disappoint despite having taken a hit in early July; formerly headlining the event was the somewhat heated rematch between Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (7-1) and Brazilian powerhouse “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (9-1). Freire, however, suffered an injury that will force him to sit out and Warren bowed out to wait for Freire. Now headlining the event is former Bellator lightweight title challenger Pat Curran (13-4), who looked better than ever with his improved ground game when he moved to featherweight, as he takes on the young and talented British featherweight Ronnie Mann (20-2). This fight has fireworks written all over it – both men are game to stand their ground wherever the fight goes. “Naza” Nazareno Malegarie (18-1) is a man with a never-give-up attitude when it comes to his submissions, as he showed in his return fight against Jacob Devree (10-2) with a fight-ending choke in the third round. Malegarie will put his impressive record against the former Sengoku champion “Monster of Rio” Marlon Sandro (18-2). The heavy-handed Sandro’s Bellator debut was far from what the world wanted to see, but he will look to bring the cold serving of a knockout when he steps in the cage against Malegarie. Supporting the main and co-main events is a heavyweight tilt highlighting the return of the human wrecking ball “Goliath” Neil Grove (10-3) against Zak Jensen (10-6). These two were slated to meet several months ago but an injury to Jensen caused the fight to be put on hold. Now the men will be looking to get a invitation into the upcoming season’s heavyweight tournament. Kicking off the Bellator 47 main card is a special attraction fight between WEC veteran “The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (17-3) and “The So Cal Kid” Chris Saunders (9-1).
Chris Horodecki vs. Chris Saunders: The IFL and WEC lightweight veteran Horodecki is back in the spotlight. The always exciting submission specialist, known for his wars inside the WEC cage, will meet Chris Saunders, a star from the local circuits, in their Bellator debuts. Horodecki is game to stand and trade or grapple on the mat, and against Saunders he has the upper hand in experience and level of competition. Saunders is the underdog in this bout and may look to use his hands to pound out Horodecki to an upset victory. Many MMA fans were shocked when Horodecki was not signed by the UFC after the WEC merged with the lower ranks of the UFC but now back in the eyes of the public he will look to make a statement that he is still dangerous and deserves to fight the best. Saunders himself is in a rare win-win situation as long as he brings his A-game. If he can defeat Horodecki, he’s instantly going to be viewed a legit threat in the 155lb. ranks and possibly will gain a spot in Bellator’s lightweight tournament bracket. If he loses and makes a good fight of it, he still reaps the benefits of shocking the MMA world by forcing a crafty vet to use all his tricks. For an opening bout to the main card, it promises fireworks. Saunders has nothing to lose by going all out and Horodecki has something to prove. Look for experience to win out after an explosive opening exchange. Horodecki via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1
Neil Grove vs. Zak Jensen: South African slugger, Cage Rage, and Bellator veteran Neil Grove is back in the cage after his loss to Bellator Heavyweight Champion “The Polar Bear” Cole Konrad (7-0). Grove will welcome a dangerous heavyweight to the cage in Zach Jensen. Jensen is a unique heavyweight – he has seen the third round only once and has finished ALL of his opponents in the first round with the exception of just one. Furthermore, Jensen has won six fights by submission and four by TKO, showing him to be exceptionally well rounded especially for a heavyweight. Grove is known for his powerful hands and massive size, but against Jensen he will be matched in size and strength. Jensen’s key to victory is getting the fight to the ground, as Grove’s ground game is his Achilles’ Heel, and Jensen can put on a clinic on the mat. Grove is likely coming to strike and knockout out the heavyweight finisher. To do so, he has to bully Jensen against the cage to smother the takedowns and land combinations on the release. The longer the fight lasts the better it is for Jensen. He has the speed and the ground game to make the match far more taxing on Grove, provided he has the gas tank to keep up the pace. However, it is unlikely these two powerhouses will fail to produce a finish early in the fight. The edge goes to Grove in getting that finish. Jensen has to get the fight to the mat to gain the advantage, but he is no world class wrestler like Cole Konrad, who struggled to ground Grove himself. Grove via TKO (Strikes), Round 1
Nazareno Malegarie vs. Marlon Sandro: The first Bellator Season 5 Featherweight Tournament semi-final is a style vs. style match-up with Malegarie, the submission ace, being pitted against the raw punching power of Sandro. The former Sengoku featherweight champ is a heavy favorite against the young Jiu-Jitsu fighter, but Malegarie showed in his last bout that he has the gas tank and the aggressive game on the mat to break any man’s will. Sandro’s tournament quarter-finals bout against Genair da Silva (9-4) did not go how he planned it, but he still edged out a decision win over his fellow countryman. The numbers in this particular match-up point to Sandro; the fight does start on the feet after all and Sandro’s takedown defense is slick and his counter-knees may really prove a problem for Malegarie. “Naza” is a strong featherweight, able to toss his opponents to the mat and work his magic, however Sandro is a far larger featherweight than Malegarie. Sandro likely won’t try to play the ground game with Malegarie, but he will control him enough to get back to his feet if the fight does hit the mat. Look for Sandro to use effective footwork and counter-attacks when Malegarie tries to set up his takedowns, but while Malegarie is on the retreat Sandro will be aggressive and work his brawling style to drop Malegarie and finish the fight with ground-and-pound. Malegarie could pull out an upset only if he can control Sandro on the mat for three five-minute rounds but the odds are surely stacked against him. Sandro via TKO (Strikes), Round 2
Ronnie Mann vs. Pat Curran: Former lightweight title challenger Pat Curran should be called “The Real Deal” after his most recent match-up. Winning the fight in dominating fashion with a Peruvian Neck Tie after controlling the action on the feet and on the ground displayed a level of well-rounded domination that Curran lacked as a lightweight. Curran was the underdog of the 155lbs. tournament, now at featherweight he is considered a true force. Ronnie Mann is a threat in his own manner – he has been deemed a “triple threat striker” due to his defense, his pinpoint strikes, and the knockout power to end it all. Mann against Curran makes perfect sense for what will be a true test for both men. Mann has great striking and a solid ground game similar to Curran but Curran has the wrestling roots to give him the edge in the clinch game paired with solid offense of his own. If Mann gets past Curran it shows he can take on the bigger opponent and come out with the victory. Curran’s test in Mann however is different; if Curran comes up short against Mann the question will be where does he go from here? Curran had a lot of problems against Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (21-2) when Alvarez effectively used head movement, in-and-out striking, and textbook boxing to beat up Curran. Mann’s hands are nowhere close to Alvarez’s but he makes up for it in knockout power. If Mann can use his speed and smaller size to work the body and come upstairs with an uppercut, Curran could be in for a short night. Curran has a wicked right hand to his own credit but against Mann the odds of landing that punch are slim. With two styles that are very similar it comes down to whoever lands first. Mann via Unanimous Decision