Bellator 125 on Spike TV and Spike.com Preview

Bellator 125Violence will be the order of the day when Bellator 125 hits the airwaves on Friday night on Spike TV. The organization’s four-fight main card is headlined by a pair of middleweight bouts which seem extremely likely to end with only one fighter conscious. Combined, those top four fighters have 68 career wins, 55 of which have come by T/KO. Add in grappling whiz Goiti Yamauchi, former boxer Raphael Butler, and a couple of blue-chip prospects and Bellator 125 should be a lot of fun at the very least. Main eventers Doug Marshall (18-7) and Melvin Manhoef (28-11-1, 1 NC) are no strangers to throwing leather, and have zero issues with the guy on the other side of the cage throwing back. I’d be very surprised if either fighter took this bout to the ground, so it will come down to who has the superior power, or perhaps who has the lesser chin. In the power category, the edge has to go to Manhoef, who has consistently shown the power of a heavyweight through his kickboxing and MMA career. The chin issue is a bit more up in the air, as both men has been put out in their careers, but Marshall has suffered the more recent knockout losses. It’s easy to see why Manhoef sits as a -200 favorite (bet $200 to win $100) at 5Dimes Sportsbook, but given the powerful nature of both fighters, the value may lie with Marshall at +185 (bet $100 to win $185). Equally adept at ending their opponent’s night are Brian Rogers (11-6) and Rafael Carvalho (9-1). Rogers picked up his third flying knee KO in his last appearance back in May, a victory which also snapped a two-fight losing streak and moved his Bellator record to 4-4. His experience at this level could come in handy against the debuting Carvalho, who will be fighting in North America for the first time. Both men prefer to strike, but they have different styles. Rogers is the bigger hitter and uses that power to pick his spots, while Carvalho likes to work his jab and follow it up with combinations of winging power shots. If Carvalho can keep Rogers on the outside he can find success here, but if Rogers times the jab and can get on the inside, look for his power to come to bear. The current line reflects both possibilities, as Rogers is a small -135 favorite with the comeback on Carvalho at +125. The featherweight bout between Goiti Yamauchi (17-2) and Martin Stapleton (13-3) probably won’t feature a knockout, but it could end up with some fun grappling exchanges. Yamauchi came to Bellator as a highly touted prospect, and looked good in his first two promotional bouts, nothing a first round submission and TKO, respectively. He faltered against Will Martinez in his first shot at a Bellator tournament, prompting many to question what his ceiling might be, but rebounded nicely and showed good improvement especially in his striking game against Mike Richman. His opponent, Martin Stapleton is 0-2 in Bellator, but the Brit’s only other loss has come at the hands of Paul Sass, so that winless record is a bit deceiving to his abilities. A well-rounded offensive fighter, Stapleton’s grappling defense has been what has let him down in the past. That should be the avenue Yamauchi explores, but the young Brazilian isn’t the best wrestler, so these two may get trapped on the feet. Even still, Yamauchi’s overall advantages and improvements have him sitting as a -400 favorite. Opening up the main card is a bout that will end quickly if viewers are lucky. Raphael Butler (8-0-1) is sadly one of the better prospects in the heavyweight division, which just speaks to the sorry state of affairs in MMA’s heaviest weight class. The former boxer hits hard and is a bit more athletic than your average heavyweight, but lacks defensively in every area. His chin is not good, his grappling is worse, and his cardio demands that he end bouts quickly or he finds himself in trouble. His last bout against Nick Rossborough was one of the worst performances of the year (including an intentional head butt to escape back mount). If there’s one thing Scott Coker is good at however, it’s making squash matches. Javy Ayala (7-3) isn’t a terrible fighter, but he’s a good style for Butler. A brawler, Ayala has sloppier technique than Butler and is equally deficient in the cardio and chin areas. Either man could score a knockout here, but chances are it will be Butler, and his -335 price tag speaks to that belief. A pair of bouts on the Spike.com preliminary card of Bellator 125 are arguably more of must-watch than the first half of the main card. Former NCAA runner-up at 197lbs, Chris Honeycutt (4-0) makes his Bellator debut against UFC veteran Aaron Wilkinson (11-6) at 170lbs. Wilkinson will be best remembered for getting submitted by Cody McKenzie on the TUF 12 finale, and grappling has always been his Achilles heel. That’s not a good recipe against a vastly superior wrestler who will also be significantly bigger and stronger in the cage. Honeycutt should impress, and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. Another prospect versus veteran bout is in the featherweight division as 29-0 Julio Cesar Neves takes on local favorite Poppies Martinez (29-10, 1 NC). Neves has some very impressive striking, and his top game is fairly solid as well. He’ll be looking for another victory against the longtime California veteran Martinez, who has been used as a litmus test for young fighters throughout his career, most recently against Bubba Jenkins in July. Martinez has been finished in all ten of his losses — with eight of those coming in the first round — so Neves will certainly be looking to get things over with quickly and keep his astonishing record unblemished. The Spike.com portion of the card also features a solid welterweight scrap between Jesse Juarez (11-6) and Ron Keslar (21-9). All of that action can be seen starting at 7pm ET, while things shift over to Spike TV at 9pm.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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