Bellator's eighth season marks the beginning of its journey on Spike TV. It also marks the beginning of a new batch of tournaments, which the company is famous for.
The welterweight tournament looks to be solid despite the loss of "War Machine" Jon Koppenhaver and Paul Daley due to injury and visa issues, respectively. The tourney boasts veterans such as Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima as well as some new, exciting faces.
Now that the brackets are set, here are the predictions for the 170-pound tournament.
Tournament veterans collide in the first round when former tournament champion Douglas Lima meets Russian counterpart Michail Tsarev.
Lima is a well-rounded stud who has all the tools to make another run at the tournament title and a shot at the championship. He dominated his way through the season-five tournament, beating Steve Carl, Chris Lozano and Ben Saunders to win it all.
He would eventually come up short against Ben Askren in a snoozer of a fight. However, he came back in his latest outing, knocking out Jacob Ortiz in a middleweight affair.
Tsarev competed in last season's welterweight tournament, making it to the semifinals. He submitted Tim Welch in the opening round before falling via TKO to Lyman Good.
Tsarev is a submission specialist, which will be negated by Lima's equally impressive ground game. Expect Lima to keep this standing and to hurt the Russian with his hands.
Prediction: Lima def. Tsarev via knockout
The next quarterfinal sees another pair of tournament veterans square off, as multidivisional competitor Brent Weedman takes on Lithuanian powerhouse Marius Zaromskis.
Zaromskis is a knockout artist with great experience and a solid record. He was a semifinalist in last season's welterweight tournament, defeating Nordine Taleb by decision before losing via brutal knockout to eventual winner Andrey Koreshkov.
He will take on another striker in Weedman, who also has good submission ability.
Weedman has been in two welterweight tournaments as well as a lightweight tournament. He lost in the finals of the lightweight tournament in 2012 while owning a 1-2 record in welterweight-tournament action.
In season four, he defeated Dan Hornbuckle in the quarterfinals before falling to Jay Hieron in the semifinals. In season five, he lost in the quarterfinals to Chris Lozano.
This should be a striking battle unless Weedman insists on using his ground game. However, Zaromskis has solid enough takedown defense to keep this fight standing.
Prediction: Zaromskis def. Weedman via decision
The third quarterfinal sees tournament newcomer Koffi Adzitso meet Bellator tournament and UFC veteran Ben Saunders.
Adzitso owns a 19-8 record while fighting in the western United States regional scene. The nasty striker has defeated such notables as UFC veteran Kevin Burns and The Ultimate Fighter participant Brandon Melendez, both of whom fell via knockout.
Saunders has participated in two separate welterweight tournaments with Bellator. He made the finals of season five and the semifinals of season six.
In season five, he defeated Chris Cisneros and Luis Santos before falling via knockout to Douglas Lima in the finals. In season six, he beat Raul Amaya before falling to Bryan Baker by decision.
Both men are good strikers, but one has to think that Saunders has an advantage on the ground. He will drag Adzitso to the mat and slap on a submission to end his night.
Prediction: Saunders def. Adzitso via submission
Tournament newcomer Jose Machado Gomes makes his way from Brazil to meet veteran Raul Amaya for a spot in the semifinals.
Gomes boasts a long career in Brazil, where he has fought more than 40 professional fights. He is well-rounded with victories over respected Brazilians Andre Santos and Cassiano Castanho.
Amaya is a finisher who has ended all 10 of his wins by knockout or submission. He was in the season-six tournament but lost to Ben Saunders by decision in the quarterfinals.
He came back in his latest Bellator outing, beating Kenny Moss.
This fight is going to be unpredictable because both men are comfortable wherever the action goes, whether it be on the ground or on the feet. However, I think Gomes is the dark horse of the tournament and could take this fight.
Prediction: Gomes def. Amaya via decision
In the semifinals, Brazilian Douglas Lima will fight Lithuanian Marius Zaromskis for a spot in the finals.
Lima is going to be the better grappler, while Zaromskis will have a slight edge in striking. In terms of putting together a well-rounded game plan, Lima is probably more versatile than Zaromskis.
Zaromskis has slowed lately, which was demonstrated in his last two bouts against Waachiim Spiritwolf. Zaromskis got lucky by winning the first fight via doctor stoppage from a cut (it was controversial) and then beat Spiritwolf again by controversial decision.
Spiritwolf isn't in the same league as Lima.
Lima can hurt you with his hands or submissions. I pick the former.
Prediction: Lima def. Zaromskis via knockout
In the other semifinal fight, Brazilian Jose Machado Gomes meets American Ben Saunders in a matchup of tournament newcomer and veteran.
Gomes is a powerful welterweight who will have to deal with the great reach of Saunders' arms and legs. Saunders and Gomes are both well-rounded, but Saunders has more experience with high-level competition.
I think Saunders will pick Gomes apart from the outside and the clinch before he eventually tags him. The referee will need to step in to rescue Gomes.
Prediction: Saunders def. Gomes via knockout
The finals of the welterweight bracket will see a rematch of the season-five final bout, as Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima will fight for a title shot.
The first fight saw Lima clip Saunders and win the fight via knockout. That will lay the blueprint for this fight.
I think Saunders will come out a little gun-shy. Lima will will get impatient and bring the fight to Saunders.
During that, expect Saunders to get some shots in on the Brazilian. However, Lima will connect again powerfully and rock the American.
He will cash his check and get a shot at the welterweight champion.
Prediction: Lima def. Saunders via knockout