Heavyweight bout: Ryan Martinez (+240) vs Vitaly Minakov (-280) Fight Breakdown: The Bellator 97 main card features the Bellator Summer Series heavyweight tournament final, where Colorado’s Ryan Martinez takes on the Russian, Vitaly Minakov. Martinez is currently the underdog at +240 ($100 to win $240) while the return on the favorite Minakov is -280 ($280 to win $100) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Ryan Martinez (10-2 MMA, 3-1 Bellator) is on a three fight win streak, coming off two impressive first round knockout wins over Richard Hale and Travis Wiuff. Martinez is a power puncher who likes to be technical. He is a very calculated fighter. He is patient, he waits and looks for his shots. He doesn’t have many tools in his arsenal, but he does have notable boxing skills and excellent cardio. Ryan Martinez has strong takedowns and likes to be in the top position, landing ground and pound. He is not the most comfortable off his back, but he does not usually have to worry much about getting there, because he is terrific with his sprawl and takedown defense. He is very tough to take down. Despite having one TKO loss on his resume, Martinez has displayed a good chin for a heavyweight.
Vitaly Minakov (11-0 MMA, 2-0 Bellator) is an undefeated Russian heavyweight making his third appearance both in Bellator and the United States. Much like Ryan Martinez, Minakov is coming off two impressive knockout finishes in the first two rounds of the Bellator Summer Series Heavyweight tournament. He is certainly a finisher, as 10 of his 11 career victories have been inside the distance; 6 by way of TKO/KO and 4 via submission. Vitaly Minakov is a very strong and very dangerous mixed martial artist. He has a good chin and posseses one-punch knockout power. He has good head movement; his defense is impressive both on the feet and on the mat. He has good transitions, is great with submissions, and is generally smart with his top game and ground-and-pound. Vitaly Minakov is a black belt in judo; he takes opponents for a ride and slams ’em down, in beautiful fashion. He has a solid base and is hard to take down. He isn’t afraid to go to the ground, though, since he seems to be as comfortable there as he is on the feet.
Fight Prediction: This is likely going to be a stand up battle. I am expecting both fighters to be bit reserved; fighting patiently and technically, rather than chasing for the knockout. Both fighters have good chins and both also posess the power to knock just about anybody out. If a knockout comes in this fight, I think it will be Martinez getting knocked out, as Minakov is the fighter who has a more fluid attack and throws more vicious combinations. They are fighting at high-altitude in New Mexico and Martinez trains at high-altitude in Colorado, so I definetly give him the cardio edge in this bout. Ultimately, I think Minakov will outstrike Martinez en route to a Unanimous Decision, if not score a TKO. I don’t think the fight will go to the mat, but if it does, Minakov should get the tap.
Gabe’s Pick: Vitaly Minakov by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Gabe’s Recommended Play: Vitaly Minakov -280