The Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament semi-finalists are set to drop bombs in Miami, Oklahoma’s Buffalo Run Casino, where tomorrow night only two men will walk away with their hand raised to move on to the finals. Destruction’s right hand “Killa B” Ben Saunders (11-3) will battle it out the old school way of Muay Thai against the exerienced and aggressive “Sapo” Luis Santos (48-6). The torch carrier for MMA Gospel’s Young Guns and heavy handed striker “The Cleveland Assassin” Chris Lozano (9-1) will meet former MFC Welterweight Champion and ever improving contender “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (17-4). With supporting bouts featuring middleweight Strikeforce alum Darryl Cobb (6-3) and Elite XC veteran “The Arm Collector” Givalindo Santana (16-1) going to battle in their Bellator debuts and former featherweight semi-finalist “The Tooth Fairy” Kenny Foster (9-3) and Shark Fights champion “Kid Ninja” Ronnie Mann (20-3) taking their recent tournament frustrations out on each other, this Bellator card could hardly promise more action.
Ronnie Mann vs. Kenny Foster: Former featherweight semi-finalists Ronnie Mann and Kenny Foster are each making their way to the cage following a disappointing loss – Foster to Daniel Straus (15-3) and Mann to Pat Curran (15-4), respectively, and are seeking their golden ticket back into the Bellator tournament brackets. The 26-year-old submission specialist Foster likely won’t be particularly keen on going toe to toe with the boxing and Muay Thai aptitudes of Mann, and he instead will have to rely on his background as an NCAA Div. II wrestler and get the fight to the ground where he can use his wrestling to control Mann enough to sneak in a choke hold or other submission. Ronnie Mann has a solid ground game of his own, though he will push to keep the fight in his wheelhouse, on the feet. Expect Mann to come out guns blazing upon the sound of the opening bell and throw every shot with the worst of intentions in attempt to erase the bitter taste of loss in his fighting career as well in his personal life after the recent death of his coach and friend, renowned MMA trainer Shawn Tompkins. In the end, the one with his hand raised will be the younger and more emotionally driven Ronnie Mann by way of his “triple threat hands”. Mann via KO (Punch), Round 1
Darryl Cobb vs. Givalindo Santana: Middleweight journeymen Darryl Cobb and Givalindo Santana will stand across from each other in the cage at Bellator 53, each hoping to make a successful debut in the Chicago-based promotion. Cobb comes in on a two-fight skid while Santana is riding a five-fight win streak that includes a recent first-round submission win over former WEC 205lbs. king “The Rhino” Doug Marshall (13-5). Known as the “Arm Collector”, Santana has earned twelve wins via Armbar and has been to the judges only twice in his long career. Cobb has shown he has dangerous hands and the gas tank to go the distance, but his submission game is the chink in his armor that makes this fight against Santana very dangerous. Santana’s game plan is clear as day: he wants to go to the ground and submit Cobb. Cobb’s best chance of victory is to out-strike Santana from the outside while doggedly avoiding the clinch or any other route to a takedown. Experience will play a big factor too since Santana has twice the number of fights of Cobb, but a puncher’s chance is always on the table. This is a veteran fighter against an up-and-coming fighter, but if the younger man can get the fight into the later rounds fans could see a major upset. However, its a safe bet that the older Santana will use his magic on the ground to seal another win and possibly have a good home within Bellator as Cobb learns why a well-rounded skill set is a must-have in modern MMA. Santana via Submission (Armbar), Round 1
Ben Saunders vs. Luis Santos: When there are two strikers pitted against one another, usually the upper hand goes to the man better on the ground, but not in this fight. Saunders and Santos will go to the ground only if they have to. Saunders is a very tall 170lbs. fighter and uses his reach and speed well with his deadly arsenal of strikes. Santos is a bit shorter but is built like an armored tank and has a strength advantage over the UFC veteran. Furthermore, the Brazilian Santos proved in his fight against “The Handler” Dan Hornbuckle (18-5) that being the shorter fighter doesn’t effect his game by destroying Hornbuckle wherever the fight went. Saunders had a very similar performance against Chris Cisneros (11-5) that saw him savagely pick apart the Hawaiian for two rounds before finishing him with a blitzkrieg of knees in the third. The common factor is that both men showed that they can keep the same pace for three solid rounds and never let up, and this could prove to be the determining attribute of the match. Saunders and Santos are going to come out in the middle of the cage and throw down, both using their preferred style of striking and the old gunslinger “may the best man win” attitude. The method of victory will be by a TKO or KO that is for certain, and whoever lands on the chin first wins the fight, but Santos packs a fair amount more power than “Killa B” and knows that the pocket is his friend. Santos via TKO (Punches), Round 2
Chris Lozano vs. Douglas Lima: Lozano, the heavy-handed striker with a warrior’s heart, will take on the wise beyond his years and well-rounded Lima to determine who will face the victor between Luis Santos and Ben Saunders. Lima didn’t look as dominant as many fans believed he would be in his fight against Steve Carl (14-3) and was even rocked fairly quickly in the opening frame, and Lozano survived a early knockdown from Brent Weedman (18-9) in the first round of their quarter-finals bout then fought hard for the reminder of the fight to win on all three judges’ scorecards. Clearly, both men have the chin to weather the early storm. Lima is becoming quite solid in respect to striking, though he still is nowhere near Lozano’s caliber in the stand-up. In fact, should he even attempt to stand with “The Cleveland Assassin”, he’s sure to get his clock cleaned. Lozano literally packs a lot more punch than Lima’s most recent opponent Steve Carl and the odds of Lima recovering as quickly as he did in the first round are slim. “The Phenom” has the striking to keep his distance but he’s only lying to himself if he says he’s not using it to set up a takedown to get the fight to the ground where he can utilize his threatening Jiu-Jitsu. Should the fight hit the canvas there still is no guarantee that the tides will turn in Lima’s favor, as when Lozano went to the ground with Brent Weedman he stayed on top and controlled the action before returning to the feet to finish the fight. Expect the welterweights’ meeting to be much like a chess match on the feet with Lima looking for a way to get Lozano down without getting caught in the pocket and Lozano hunting a KO without leaving himself open to a shoot. Lozano via Unanimous Decision