Although the UFC is running two events this weekend, the event with the title implications doesn’t belong to the UFC, but to Bellator MMA. That’s because the main event of Saturday Night’s Bellator 165 event will see lightweight champion Michael Chandler defend against Ben Henderson. Also, Michael Page faces Fernando Gonzalez and Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez makes her pro debut.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Title Fight
“Iron” Michael Chandler (15-3-0) (Champion) vs. “Smooth” Ben Henderson (24-6-0)
Chandler will be making the first defense of his championship, as he started his second reign by defeating Patricky Freire at Bellator MMA Dynamite II. Henderson has previously challenged for the Bellator MMA Welterweight Title, losing to then champion Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 153. Chandler will enter the fight riding a three fight winning streak and he hasn’t suffered a defeat in over two years. Henderson is a former UFC Lightweight Champion and is he captures the Bellator MMA Lightweight Title, he will be the second fighter to capture the lightweight belts in both companies (Eddie Alvarez was the other).
Prediction: This one is a candidate for a potential fight of the year, Henderson will use his leg kicks to weaken Chandler and then use his wrestling game, but Chandler counters with his boxing to finish Henderson with strikes in the third round.
Bellator MMA Welterweight Division Fight
Fernando “The Menifee Maniac” Gonzalez (25-13-0) vs. Michael “Venom” Page (11-0-0)
Gonzalez is currently undefeated in Bellator MMA competition, with notable wins coming over Karl Amoussou, Karo Parisyan, Marius Zaromskis and Gilbert Smith. Page has already won six bouts in Bellator MMA, including wins over a trio of Strikeforce veterans in Rudy Bears, Nah-Shon Burrell and Evangelista Santos. Gonzalez has previously challenged for welterweight titles in King Of The Cage, Respect In The Cage and the World Fighting Championships promotions, but came up short each time. Page has only seen two of his eleven pro fights go past the first round and only one of those two went to the judge’ scorecards.
Prediction: Gonzalez has the experience to make things interesting for a short time, but Page is one of the best strikers in all of MMA, Page finishes Gonzalez with strikes in the opening round.
Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Division Fight
“Limitless” Francis Carmont (25-11-0) vs. Linton “The Swarm” Vassell (16-5-0-1NC)
Carmont has won three of four fights under the Bellator MMA banner, last defeating Lukasz Klinger at Bellator 158. Vassell has rotated wins and losses in his last five Bellator MMA appearances, with his last fight being a win over former light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton at Bellator 149. Carmont did make it to the finals of the one-night light heavyweight tournament at Bellator MMA: Dynamite, losing to Phil Davis in those finals. Vassell did previously challenge for the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Title, losing to then champion Emmanuel Newton, in their first meeting, at Bellator 130.
Prediction: These are two fighters who are going to want to get the fight on the ground, Carmont outwrestles Vassell on route to a decision win.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Brandon Girtz (14-4-0) vs. Adam Piccolotti (8-0-0)
Girtz will enter the fight riding a three fight winning streak, which includes a win over UFC veteran Melvin Guillard at Bellator 141. Piccolotti has already won four bouts in Bellator MMA, defeating Andrew Ramm, Salvador Becerra, Mario Soto and Ray Wood. Girtz has won five of his last six under the Bellator MMA banner, with four of those wins being first round finishes. Piccolotti also competed in the Dragon House MMA promotion, where half of his professional MMA wins took place at.
Prediction: Piccolotti is great at using his striking game to set up the takedowns, but Girtz is a far better wrestler and he scores a bunch of takedowns on route to a decision win.
Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Division Fight
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez (0-0-0) vs. Sheila Padilla (2-0-0)
Taylor-Melendez will be making her professional MMA debut in this fight, but she is a highly decorated kickboxer. Padilla made her professional MMA debut earlier this year, already defeating Jessica Sanchez-Birch and Corina Herrera. Taylor-Melendez did not compete in any amateur MMA fights and she is the wide of UFC veteran Gilbert Melendez. Padilla also has no amateur fights to speak of and she has already competed in the Tachi Palace Fights promotion.
Prediction: Padilla will want to clinch and get the fight to the ground as quick as possible, but Taylor-Melendez keeps her at a distance with her striking game on route to a decision win.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Kevin Ferguson Jr. over Aaron Hamilton
Carrington Banks over Jake Roberts
Nick Pica over Diego Herzog
Jeremiah Labiano over Vince Murdock
James Terry over Justin Baesman
Alvin Cacdac over Steve Ramirez
JJ Okanovich over Luis Vargas
Victor Jones over Beau Hamilton
Cesar Gonzalez over Hugo Lujan
Justin Roswell over Dominic Sumer
Danasabe Mohammed over Dwight Grant
Sarah D’Alelio over Jaimelene Nievera