While there is no UFC event this coming weekend, MMA fans will still have plenty to watch on both Friday and Saturday evening, as Bellator and WSOF both have card headlined by solid title fights. The action will kick off on Friday with Bellator 135, where Joe Warren defends his bantamweight title against a familiar foe, Marcos Galvao. Warren and Galvao fought back in 2011 when the former Greco-Roman world champion was Bellator’s featherweight title holder, but the belt was not on the line at that time. Nearly all observers scored the bout 29-28 for Galvao, but the judges saw it in Warren’s favor. The rematch is intriguing not just because of their first bout, but also the improvements both men have made since. Joe Warren was nothing more than a wrestler the first time these guys fought, and he’s worked to round out his skills, showing improved striking (especially from the clinch), and some submission chops. Galvao still relies on his positional grappling ability, but has become more dangerous with his own hands. Bellator 135 also features the promotional debuts of Francis Carmont and Hideo Tokoro. Carmont moves up to the light heavyweight division to take on 6’4″ Brazilian prospect Guilherme Viana, while Tokoro comes to the US for just the second time in his 15-year, 61-fight career, to face L.C. Davis. The main card is rounded out by a lightweight matchup between Dakota Cochrane and Ryan Couture. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for Bellator 135 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
Brad’s Analysis: Joe Warren’s MMA career has been a strange ride. Following his first bout with Galvao he was knocked out brutally on two separate occasions, and most thought he was done as a fighter. Since then, he’s won five straight, including victories over talented Brazilians Rafael Silva and — Galvao’s friend and teammate — Eduardo Dantas. He has developed a style that is very difficult for fighters to deal with, and it seems only those who have big power and the ability to stay upright have had much success against him. Marcos Galvao does not really fit that bill (although he could still catch Warren’s somewhat questionable chin), so while I think the grappling exchanges will be competitive (as they were in the first fight), I expect Warren to be in top position most of the time and to get the nod on the judges scorecards. Francis Carmont moving up to 205 worries me. It’s not the actual size which will be a problem for him, as he was a monstrous middleweight, but the fact that fighters in his position moving up a weight class often lose motivation. Add that into the fact that he’s facing a long striker with good power, and this could very easily go poorly for Carmont. I expect he’s going to win, as Viana’s only moderate step up in competition was a loss to Rodney Wallace, but there’s no way I’m trusting a 33-year-old who just got knocked out by Thales Leites with my money.It would have been amazing to see Tokoro come over to the US earlier in his career, as he remains one of the most entertaining grapplers the sport has ever seen. Unfortunately he’s now 37, undersized as a bantamweight, and Davis is a terrible stylistic matchup for him. Davis should be able to get takedowns when he wants in this fight, and while Tokoro will be active from the bottom, I can’t see him catching Davis with anything, unless a leglock happens out of the blue. Ryan Couture is the favorite in this fight, and beyond Dakota Cochrane’s inconsistent performances, I’m not really sure why. Couture has fought extremely poor opposition since being cut from the UFC, and has looked like you would expect a UFC veteran to against inexperienced, .500 competition. Cochrane always bouncing around to different weights bothers me, but his best performances seem to come at 155, and I think he can win the wrestling battle against Couture. This will likely end up a pass for me, but if I do bet it, I can’t lay the price on Couture.