It seems Bellator likes to keep their champions busy with non-title fights, but they choose fighters to fight them that are veteran fighters but play into the champion fight game. The same when Hector Lombard fought Herbert Goodman, his upcoming fight with Falaniko Vitale, and this fight too. Ben Askren is a world class wrestler, and every time that nick Thompson has fought good wrestler he losses. Tim Kennedy and Jake Shields both used a strong wrestling game to take Jake down and submit him.
So, don’t be looking for some upset here. Bellator knows what they are doing they are not going to let their champion lose in a non-title fight. They also don’t want to have their champion inactive over the course of a season long tournament. That is why we get fights like this; a fight where the opponent has little to no chance, but a fight for the champion to put in some time.
The Bottom Line: Ben Askren will control the whole fight en route to a second round TKO due to ground and pound.
Brent Weedman (18-5-1) vs. Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron (20-4-0)
Brent Weedman is a good fighter, and he took out a fighter in Dan Hornbuckle that I thought he would not be able to beat. The truth is that Dan has not been the same fighter that he was over in Japan where he was knocking out fighters and finishing fights. Brent’s only ever loss to tough fighters, but that is where his fault lies as Jay is one extremely tough fighter.
Jay Hieron has always been a fighter with the ability to be a champion, but he never had the chance. The IFL failed, Affliction went under, and Strikeforce never followed through with their promise. He has just had bad luck. He entered this tournament with one thing in mind being a champion and that is all that he is focused on. His one weakness has always been his chin, but his boxing has tightened up making his defense hard to penetrate. In addition, he has a strong ground game as evident by his submission in the first round of the tournament.
The Bottom Line: Jay Hieron is too focused to lose. He finishes this fight in the third after a few scares, but comes away with a KO win.
Ronnie Mann (18-2-1) vs. Josh Arocho (6-9-0)
As with most high profile fighters Bellator picks up they like to give them a gimmie fight. You saw it with Ben Saunders destroying another fighter last week, and you will see it again with Ronnie Mann in his fight with Josh. They like to introduce fighters to the Bellator audience so they can set them up for future tournaments, and Ronnie is the perfect fighter to have in a tournament so why not give him an easy fight. Just look at the facts Ronnie has 11 submission victories, and Josh has six losses due to submission. That right there is a good determinant of the winner of this fight.
The Bottom Line: Ronnie by first round submission.
Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard (11-0-0) vs. Michael Chandler (6-0-0)
As seen in my last predictions I can’t bet against the Montana native, but that does not mean he does not have a tough fight in front of him. Both fighters could finish the fight no matter where it goes. The strengths for Michael in this fight re his wrestling, his hands, and his submission. Obviously, in the first round of this tournament you saw him submit a strong BJJ fighter in Marcien Held, but he also got caught in multiple submissions. If someone was able to hold onto a submission they caught him in it would stop him. He has strong hands, but so does Lloyd.
Lloyd has big knockout power as seen in his first fight too. He also has a strong BJJ base since he has submitted more people than he has finished with strikes. The big remaining factor is the wrestling. We know that Michael can get Lloyd down, but can he keep him there? There are just so many unknowns with two fighters that are relatively new to the sport. Look for this fight to be wild as either fighter could pull out something that would surprise everyone.
The Bottom Line: I still can’t bet against the Montana native as I think he will pull out a hard fought decision, but this fight could go any way.