There is a lot of MMA action coming to us this weekend, with two UFC events and sandwiched in between those UFC events is an offering from Bellator MMA. Bellator 168 will be headlined by a light heavyweight division clash as Alessio Sakara will be battling Joey Beltran. Also, Philipe Lins faces Kleber Raimundo Silva and undefeated prospect Ed Ruth will be in action.
Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Division Fight
Alessio Sakara (17-12-0) vs. Joey Beltran (16-12-0)
Sakara is currently undefeated in Bellator MMA, as he defeated Brian Rogers by second round TKO at Bellator 152. Beltran has rotated wins and losses in his last seven fights, with his last fight being a loss to Chase Gormley at Bellator 155. Sakara spent a grand total of eight years under the UFC banner, earning a total of six wins in the promotion. Beltran previously competed for the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Title, but he lost to then champion Emmanuel Newton at Bellator 124.
Prediction: This fight is going to be a slugfest from bell to bell, but Sakara has the better combinations and the better chin, he knocks Beltran out late in the first round.
Bellator MMA Heavyweight Division Fight
Philipe Lins (9-1-0) vs. Kleber Raimundo Silva (5-5-0)
Lins has won three of four fights under the Bellator MMA banner, with notable wins coming over Guilherme Viana and Austen Heidlage. Silva will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and it has been nearly four years since he earned a victory. Prior to signing with Bellator MMA in 2014, Lins did earn two victories over UFC veteran Antonio Mendes. Silva is also a veteran of the Jungle Fights promotion, he earned two of three wins during his time in the promotion.
Prediction: Silva is being brought in so Lins can get the highlight win, Lins finishes Silva with strikes in the opening round.
Bellator MMA Middleweight Division Fight
Claudio Annicchiarico (1-4-0) vs. John Salter (12-3-0)
Annicchiarico will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and he is coming off of his first win, which came over Ilyrian Hoxhay at Cage Warrior 4. Salter is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating both Brandon Halsey and Dustin Jacoby. Annicchiarico will be fighting for the third time in 2016, which is the busiest he has been since he turned pro a few years back. Salter also fought three times in the UFC and he only earned a single victory, which came over Jason MacDonald at UFC 113.
Prediction: This may be the biggest mismatch that Bellator MMA has put on a televised card in a long time, Salter easily submits Annicchiarico in the first round.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Valeriu Mircea (9-2-0) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (21-3-0)
Mircea will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight, but he has previously competed against UFC veteran Cody McKenzie. Yamauchi has won four of his last five under the Bellator MMA banner, with notable wins coming over Ryan Couture, Isao Kobayashi and Mike Richman. Mircea has already fought six times in 2016, he is averaging one fight in just under two months so far this year. Yamauchi is one of the best submission artists in all of MMA, as all of his wins have come by submission since he turned pro.
Prediction: Mircea is a quality fighter, but this busy year must be wearing on him, Yamauchi submits him in the opening round.
Bellator MMA Middleweight Division Fight
Emanuele Palombi (3-3-0) vs. Ed Ruth (1-0-0)
Palombi will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and he has only won just one of his last three fights. Ruth made his professional MMA debut earlier this year at Bellator 163, where he defeated Dustin Collins-Miles by first round TKO. Palombi is a veteran of the Power Nations Fighting Championships, where he won just one of three fights. Ruth may not have a lot of professional MMA experience, but he is one of the most decorated amateur fighters to ever compete in Bellator MMA.
Prediction: Palombi does enter the fight with a huge experience advantage, but Ruth is an amazing wrestler and he grinds out a decision win.