It has been seven years since Quinton "Rampage" Jackson fought anywhere besides the UFC, but one of the sport's most charismatic figures will make his Bellator debut on Saturday night against another long-time UFC competitor, Joey Beltran, at Bellator 108.
Rampage left the UFC on a three-fight losing streak. He'll be looking to end that skid explosively. Beltran is not an easy man to put away. He's known for his toughness and his brawling style should make for an entertaining scrap with Rampage.
The bout will headline the Bellator 108 card at Revel Atlantic City in Atlantic City, N.J. Here's a look at the scheduled bouts, the viewing information and predictions on each fight.
A deeper analysis of the top bouts appears just beneath the schedule. The predictions appear after the matchup.
Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET
Joey Beltran vs. Quinton Jackson—Jackson by TKO
Alexander Volkov vs. Vitaly Minakov, for Bellator Heavyweight Title—Volkov by KO
Patricio Freire vs. Justin Wilcox, Final of Season 9 featherweight tournament—Freire by KO
Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Jesus Martinez—Burrell by decision
Marcos Galvao vs. Tom McKenna—McKenna by submission
Spike.com, 6:30 p.m. ET
Chip Moraza-Pollard vs. Sam Oropeza—Oropeza by KO
Tom DeBlass vs. Jason Lambert—DeBlass by decision
Will Martinez vs. Kevin Roddy—Martinez by KO
Liam McGeary vs. Najim Wali—McGeary by KO
Kenny Foster vs. Anthony Morrison—Morrison by decision
Ryan Cafaro vs. Dan Matala—No prediction
Sergio da Silva vs. Rob Sullivan—Sullivan by decision
Patricio Freire vs. Justin Wilcox
Freire has been on the cusp of capturing the featherweight title before, but he's failed to get over the hump. This time his charge will be difficult to deny. He has blown through the Season 9 featherweight tournament, finishing opponents in a variety of ways.
He showed his power by knocking out Diego Nunes in the first round of the tournament. Against Wilcox, Freire's explosiveness will be the difference. Wilcox is a battler, but Freire's aggression can only be curtailed by a fighter with power that demand's the Pitbull's respect.
Wilcox isn't that guy. Expect Friere to make perhaps the biggest statement of his career with a KO victory.
Alexander Volkov vs. Vitaly Minakov
Rampage and Beltran are getting all the attention, but the Volkov-Minakov title bout is the most intriguing on the card. The two Russian heavyweights figure to have an exciting and brutal scrap.
Minakova is a perfect 12-0 and has finished (KO, TKO or submission) all but one of his victims. The champion Volkov stands 6'7" and will enjoy a five-inch height advantage against his countryman. While Volkov's record isn't completely unblemished, you have to go back a while to find his last loss.
He's won 10 fights in a row and hasn't lost since Dec. 2010.
As explosive and ferocious as Minakov is, the height difference will be too much for him to overcome. He's never faced an opponent this big and skilled. Volkov will retain his title via KO.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Joey Beltran
This fight is all about fluff, but it may just turn out to be entertaining fluff all the same. Pardon me, but I prefer my fights to actually matter. Quite honestly, this one doesn't. Neither of these guys are serious contenders because they both are severely outclassed by opponents who put them on their back.
Who wins Rampage vs. Beltran?
Rampage was thoroughly dominated by Ryan Bader, Rashad Evans and Glover Teixeira—though the latter stood with him for a while—primarily because Rampage can't conduct himself on the ground. His takedown defense had improved to 74 percent, per Fight Metric, but all he can do is survive if he's taken down.
He can't get to his feet and he has no attacking or submission game from the position.
Beltran is even more of a brawler and one-dimensional stand-up fighter. This is precisely why he was the man to replace Tito Ortiz in this bout. Originally, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy was supposed to be Ortiz's opponent, but an injury forced him out.
Because Beltran will stand and trade, the two men should deliver a blood-and-guts performance that carries some cheap value. Rampage is my pick to win. He's a more gifted athlete and accurate puncher. If by some stretch the two are locked up, his freakish strength gives him an edge as a grappler.
Still, it is hard to see this fight ending in any thing but a KO.
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