Bellator 114 Preview for ‘Shlemenko vs Ward’ Tonight (March 28) in West Valley City

Alexander ShlemenkoBellator 114 is upon us, and instead of a single tournament running this show, we’re all over the map, but that’s not always a bad thing. In the main event we have have Russian badass Alexander Shlemenko (49-7), middleweight champion and rider of a 12-fight winning streak taking on season 9 winner Brennan Ward (9-1). Ward made a huge impact last season, finishing all of his opponents (Torrey, Pacheco, Parlo) in the second round, and while they aren’t the best competition Bellator has ever put together, the way that he ran over them with his wrestling and developed hands was impressive. The key to success for Ward would be to put Shlemenko on his back early and often, but that’s easier said than done against Shlemenko, who has gotten better with every fight. Now training out of Reign with Mark Munoz, Shlemenko is a whole new kind of monster. He can take you down, he can dirty box, he WILL throw his spinning backfist and pick you apart however he feels necessary. Ward is going to be the best Ward he’s ever been, because Shlemenko is a better fighter than him in every category. The middleweight semifinal matchup on this card is between two very familiar faces, middleweight tournament runner-up Brett Cooper (19-9) will be bringing his hard-hitting style to the suddenly relevant Kendall Grove (20-13) who has retired more times than I can even remember. This is a good fight for both men, and should be exciting. Cooper likes to stand and bang, but has developed his wrestling lately, and has been able to mix up his aggressive striking with level changes and takedowns to keep his opponent guessing. Grove is comfortable on his back, and is solid on the feet, so this fight could potentially end up all over the Bellator cage. It’s my pick for Fight of the Night, as both men are desperate for a win, even if Cooper is on a two-fight losing streak and Grove has won his last two in a row. If it goes to the mat – it’s BJJ vs wrestling, if it stands up, Cooper could have the advantage with the stronger chin and heavier hands. The featherweight tournament continues, with Des Green (10-2) riding high off his win over Mike Richman at Belaltor 110. His opponent is Will Martinez (9-2-1). Martinez is a killer, while Green is only now starting to find a killer instinct. Green is a grinder, while Martinez has finished all of his fights but one, his quarterfinal bout over Goiti Yamauchi. This could end quickly, as Martinez looks sharper than green in every area but wrestling, but Green also has a knack for slowly grinding out fights and getting the win. Martinez holds the advantage on the feet, so Green will want this to get to the ground as quickly as possible. This could be a quick fight or quite the scrap. Martinez seems like the safe bet, but be wary betting against a wrestler who seems to win often. To open the show, the other half of the featherweight bracket features submission artist Daniel Weichel (32-8) against Matt Bessette (13-4). Bessette barely got past Diego Nunes at Belaltor 110, while Weichel has done what he almost always does – finish a fight via submission. The German has 20 submission wins to his career, and has finished his last 4 by rear naked choke. The M-1 standout has great clinching abilities and can take down most anyone in the 145 pound division, while Bessette is skilled, Weichel seems to be on a different level than anyone in this tournament. This should likely end like so many others – with Weichel getting hsi hand raised after a tapout.

Written by Jason Nawara

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