Bellator Fighting Championships make a return to Ontario this Friday night with Bellator 64: Askren vs Lima, from the Colosseum inside Caesars Windsor.
The show is a stacked card, featuring a welterweight title fight between champion Ben Askren and Season 5 tournament winner Douglas Lima. The main card will also feature exciting Brazilians Marlon Sandro and Alexandre Bezerra going at it in a Season 6 featherweight semifinal match, as well as the first two fights in the Season 6 bantamweight tournament.
The preliminary portion of the card will hold five fights and feature some of the best fighters in Canada and Southwestern Ontario. London native and experienced veteran Chris Horodecki will fight for the third time in Bellator (1-0-1), as he faces U.S. Marine and Minnesota native Mike Richman. Horodecki will be making his featherweight debut after years of success as a lightweight.
The rest of the card is intriguing as well, as it is rounded out by some exciting local fighters who are making their Bellator debut and looking to make a name for themselves. Highly touted up-and-comers Nordine Taleb (who trains out of Tristar) and Adrenaline Training Center knockout artist Chad Laprise are debuting on the card.
The event will broadcast LIVE starting at 8 p.m. EST on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. EST, with the first fight scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The preliminary card, featuring the area’s top local talent will be streamed LIVE and FREE around the world on Spike.com starting at 7 p.m. EST.
Here is a preview, breakdown and prediction for every fight on the card.
This is a matchup between two fairly unknown fighters who will be looking to make a name for themselves in the Bellator lightweight division.
Fischer is an American fighting out of Michigan who is coming off a controversial win in November, where he knocked out his opponent immediately after an eye poke in a fight that was later ruled a No Contest. The loss on his record is from way back in 2006, so not much to go on with him.
Soloman on the other hand is known locally, and is making his second appearance in Bellator after gaining a debut victory over Mike Sledzion at BFC 57 in November. The Ontario fighter is a lanky 155-pounder, and he uses that size and reach very effectively with three of his wins coming via finish.
I think Soloman will use his reach and lanky frame to keep control of Fischer everywhere in this one. He will pick Fischer apart early and eventually get him in a submission. Home-cage advantage will give a slight edge in energy to Soloman.
Soloman, via submission (Round 2)
This is a welterweight battle between two local Canadian fighters, with Taveirne from Windsor and Laprise from Chatham, just 45 minutes down the road from the venue.
Laprise comes into this fight undefeated with four first-round knockouts on his record, and is making his Bellator debut. Laprise trains full-time at Adrenaline Training Center in London, and he blitzed ground ace Andrew McInnis for a knockout at 2:29 of his last fight in July.
On the other hand, Taveirne has had a rough go of it lately, losing his last two fights by submission to Ryan Dickson and Dhiego Lima. Taveirne is the bigger fighter of the two, and will look to use his size and wrestling to grind out a victory.
Don't blink on this one, as I see Laprise coming out quickly and looking for the early KO win. Speed, takedown defence and precise striking will keep this fight where Laprise wants it, and he will land that shot to finish.
Laprise, via TKO (Round 2)
Two more new locals will take each other on in a 160-pound catchweight bout when Kyle Prepolec takes on Lance Snow.
Prepolec is known for his decent punching power with two knockout wins on his record, but he is coming off a decision loss in his last fight in October in Montreal. Prepolec is fighting in his hometown, so he should get a nice pop from the crowd to boost his energy.
Lance Snow is a late add to this card and finds himself with a great opportunity. He needs a win badly to turn his career in the right direction, and Bellator is the perfect stage to do it. He will have his hands full, and will look to stand and bang away to the delight of the fans.
It is tough to call a fight where both fighters are so young in their careers, but Snow has two losses in a row and hasn't fought since 2010. Prepolec has a very strong reputation locally as a good fighter with a future, so I'm taking him in a knockout.
Prepolec, via KO (Round 1)
Rich Lictawa will be looking to turn his fortunes in the cage around when he fights against Ontario's own Elias Theodorou. Lictawa is a middleweight fighter out of Michigan, with two losses coming into Friday night.
On the other side, Theodorou is coming off a nice decision win only a few weeks ago in Hamilton, and the Ontario native is undefeated in his brief career. Theodorou is very technically strong in all facets of the game.
This one will be a tough battle, in-tight all night, with both fighters wanting to impose their strength on the other. It may not be pretty, but the local edge and confidence will go to Elias and he will get a decision.
Theodorou, via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Secor fights out of upstate New York, and we have all heard of how tough that circuit is. Secor is undefeated in one professional and two amateur fights. He seems to be more of a ground fighter with a jiu-jitsu background.
Taleb comes very highly touted as a fighter out of the Tristar Vale Tudo camp of Montreal. He is a chiseled fighter with mean intentions, as four of his six wins have come via TKO finish. He is on a five-fight win streak, and just knocked out UFC veteran Pete Sell in November.
This one looks like a traditional striker vs grappler matchup, but in the end I believe it will be Nordine's strength and power that will be the difference in this one. He will use that power to scramble and stay out of any danger Secor poses, then land the big shot in the end.
Taleb, via TKO (Round 2)
Local veteran Chris Horodecki is making his featherweight debut this Friday night, and many fans will be on hand to support one of their favorite fighters in the country. Horodecki is coming off a controversial draw to Season 6 tournament fighter Mike Corey in November. He has one victory in Bellator before that, and his last loss came in 2010 to UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone.
Richman fights out of the Minnesota Fight Factory, and has only lost once in his career. Seven submission wins out of 11 say that Richman will take you down and tap you out, but his last win via TKO tells you that he can punch, too. Richman is a former U.S. Marine who looks to send the fans home disappointed.
Both these fighters are extremely good at what they do, but I can't help but think that Horodecki is just a touch more well-rounded and experienced than Richman, and that will be the difference in the end.
Horodecki will know exactly what he has to do to get a win, and he will do it. He will have a very strong corner with trainer Jeff Curran leading the way. Horodecki will score all night to a decision win and clear his path for bigger and better fights through the rest of the year.
Horodecki, via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight is a quarterfinal match in the Bellator Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament.
Lima is a Brazilian 20-year-old who is making his North American debut after going undefeated in the Brazilian circuit. He has five wins via submission and three via TKO, so his game is well-rounded and mean.
Nakamura is a Japanese veteran, with eleven years and nine fights on his green opponent. He has been fighting in the Deep promotion of Japan and, like Lima, will have to adjust to his first fight overseas. Of Nakamura's 14 wins, 12 have come via decision, so he must look to step up his game to move on in this tournament
This one is a debut fight for both, so it comes down to the competition that each one has faced and I give Nakamura the nod there. Deep has better talent than the small shows of Brazil, and I think Nakamura will be a step ahead in this one.
Nakamura, via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
This fight is a quarterfinal match in the Bellator Season 6 Bantamweight Tournament.
Marx is a fighter out of famed Jackson's MMA in New Mexico, and has ten submission wins on his resume. The veteran is on a three-fight win streak and was the final competitor announced for the Season 6 tournament.
Masakatsu Ueda is the older and more accomplished of the Japanese tandem signed for this tournament. He comes from the Shooto promotion of Japan and has recently defeated Royler Gracie and Rumino Sato. Ueda has a very unorthodox and sneaky game, and has been in the sport almost as long as Marx has.
This fight could turn out to be a jiu-jitsu war, and although Marx is a very accomplished grappler, I like Ueda's chances against any fellow ground ace. I don't think Marx has the game or power to knock Ueda out on the feet, so a decision will go to the Japanese fighter.
Ueda, via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This fight is a semifinal match in the Bellator Season 6 Featherweight Tournament.
Bezerra is a young Brazilian phenom on an incredible roll right now, with his only loss coming in 2009 to Charles Oliveira. This is the sixth time Bezerra will be fighting for the BFC, and he defeated Kenny Foster at BFC 60 to earn his spot in the semifinals. Bezerra has a slick submission game and knockout power, and 12 of his 13 wins have come via finish.
Marlon Sandro is a 35-year-old, eight-year veteran of this sport and he is looking to battle for the old guard when he faces fellow Brazilian Bezerra. Sandro has fought some of the very best in his division throughout his career, with his three losses coming to Michihiro Omigawa, Hatsu Hioki and Pat Curran. The Nova Uniao fighter must make his move now if he wants a BFC title.
I think age matters in this one and Bezerra will be the quicker and more fit of the two. Sandro won't back down an inch, but I see him being a small step behind the explosiveness of Bezerra all night. This fight will signal a small changing of the guard in Brazil, with Bezerra making a statement on the veteran.
Bezerra, via knockout (Round 3)
The main event of the night will feature a fight for the Bellator Welterweight Championship between champion Ben Askren and last season's tournament winner, Douglas Lima.
Askren has surprised many people in MMA with his current run. He surprised when he beat Dan Hornbuckle in the welterweight tournament final. He surprised when he beat Lyman Good for the Bellator Welterweight Championship, and he also surprised when he defended it by beating Jay Hieron. Askren has risen to every challenge using his stellar strength and wrestling pedigree, and he will look to do the same against Lima.
Douglas Lima is a 24-year-old Brazilian who has not lost a fight since 2009. In that 9-0 run he has knocked out and defeated the likes of Ryan Ford, Terry Martin and most recently Ben Saunders to take the Season 5 tournament final. Lima is no newcomer to fighting in Canada either, as he knocked out Martin at Caesars Windsor a year ago. Lima was also a title holder in one of Canada's longest standing MMA promotions, the Maximum Fighting Championships, before signing on with Bellator.
I have been following Lima for some time now and have always felt he was a champion in the making. He has won very quickly recently, and he may not be ready for the grind that Askren will bring to him. I believe all he needs is one big opening on the feet or the ground and he should be able to end this fight in a very exciting fashion.
This will be the coming out party for Douglas Lima, as he will defeat Askren and become the Bellator Welterweight Champion.
Lima, via knockout (Round 2)
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA, MMA Editor at CKSN.ca and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca.