The Bellator 102 event came to us last night (Oct. 4, 2013) from Visalia, California, and most of the talk was about the semifinals of the heavyweight tournament which featured a lineup bolstered by recent UFC veterans. Both Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson were betting favorites come fight time, and they went 1-1 after squaring off against Mark Godbeer and Vinicius Quieroz respectively. In the opening match of the semifinals, Quieroz came out and hit Lavar Johnson once and the fight was over. Johnson had been cut from the UFC for a combination of reasons, including having no ground technique and then testing positive for elevated testosterone levels. Unfortunately for Johnson, he got to show a big fat zero in this fight, as he went out face first when Quieroz made contact. We still don’t know much about Quieroz, who at 6’7 may present intriguing match ups, but he has already lost to the Bellator Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov, and his overall resume is still not very impressive. Nevertheless, Quieroz paid off as a nearly 2 to 1 underdog and is now just one Cheick Kongo win away from the $100,000 tournament prize. Because Kongo was able to take out Mark Godbeer in the other semi final with a barrage of strikes in the second round. This was to be expected, as Kongo closed as a roughly 5 to 1 favorite over Godbeer. Godbeer was game, as he caused Kongo to have to be more aggressive than usual in working for the finish. For Kongo’s part, he was focused on the task at hand and will be in the tournament finals as expected. When he is like that, he will be able to use his superior athleticism to beat just about anybody on the Bellator roster. A match between Kongo and Volkov could present the Bellator champion with a challenge to perform against a respectable professional, and Volkov would definitely have a shot at beating him. It’s a shame that Johnson was not able to give even a minute of action, but we do know that Quieroz did exactly what you want to do in a short, abbreviated tournament, and that is advance quickly and unscathed. Kongo had to exert himself more in his bout, so hopefully no little injuries emerge over the next few days. Look for Kongo to be favored against Quieroz when the line comes out for the finals. Kongo’s combination of experience and athleticism should be too much for the Brazilian on paper. In the ring, however, it will be a competitive match. Bellator will try to build up Kongo, but he remains the flawed fighter who we saw losing in UFC 64 to Carmelo Marrero. If he is met by equal or superior force, he fades, and his chin is suspect. His best days are behind him. Quieroz at 6’7 with lengthy strikes and what is probably a superior ground game may have the right tools to take out Kongo. It remains to be seen where the line opens. I suspect that Bellator would prefer a Kongo – Volkov fight at some point down the line.