Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bellator 57 - Write up from

The current Bellator season is entering into the tournament championship fight faze now and the next few weeks feature some of the most important fights of Bellator's year. For an organisation struggling with attracting viewers as it is, it probably did not want two tournament finales on the same night as a Manny Pacquiao and a massive UFC fight for free. It is what it is though and for anyone with TiVo or a torrents programme Saturday night or Sunday day time are going to be jam pack with great fights. I have already written a preview of UFC on Fox and made my picks and obviously the boxers are only allowed to fight standing up and only with their hands so there is no point in talking about or watching that. Below I have done a run down of the Bellator 57 card, focusing on the tournament championship bouts between Lima and Saunders and Vianna and Schlemenko.

Picture from

Vianna vs Schlemenko

I am very excited about this fight. Vitor Vianna seems like a great prospect and Alexander Schlemenko is an intimidating veteran on a run of some devestating finishes since his decision loss to reigning middleweight kingpin Hector Lombard. That Lombard fight is the Russian's only loss in his last 12 fights. It is interesting that, while in fighting terms Schlemenko is a bit of a granddad, Vianna is five years his elder.

Schlemenko is primarily a stand up fighter with a great chin, a devestating clinch game full of knees and great all round kickboxing. He did pull off a super surprising guillotine choke on Galesic at Bellator 50, but I do not see a repeat of that happening against Vianna. Schlemenko will look to stay on the outside of Vianna and, if Vianna makes the decision to stand and trade given the confidence he has gained from TKOs in two of his last three runouts the Russian will easily evade his attack and make him pay with direct, economical but powerful strikes.

Vitor Vianna trains with Wanderlei Silva and you wonder if in his last few fights he has modelled his striking style on the wild attacks of his sparring partner. Silva has found in his last few fights that attacking with reckless abandon can lead to quite random results. Against a striker of Schlemenko's caliber I think the results are quite predictable, Vianna will be knocked out. Surely Vianna knows this and will try and get the fight to the ground at the earliest opportunity where he has an undeniable advantage. I have not been overly impressed by Vianna's take down ability in the three or four fights I have seen him in and Schlemenko has great defence.

Without the ability to get the fight to the ground this match up should be all about Alexander Schlemenko picking off Vitor Vianna and avoiding big punches. Don't get me wrong, if Vianna somehow takes this fight to the ground he stands a great chance, I just don't see it happening. Schlemenko will knock him out, possibly as early as the first round.

Here is a video of Vianna's only loss to Thiago Silva.  It was five years ago so I don't think we can read too much into it, but he has the same trouble with take downs in the beginning of the round as I think he will have with Schlemenko.

Here are his fights against Sam Alvey and Bryan Baker.  Particularly in the Baker fight, look out for the wiuld punching that I think Schlemenko will punish at Bellator 57.

Ben Saunders vs Douglas Lima

Picture from MMAmania

To look at Ben Saunders' record you could be forgiven for thiking that he is one of those fighters that had his shot at the big time and blew it at the UFC. The reality though, is that he had a few injuries at the wrong times, including under-performing in TUF 6 due to 'flu and a few dodgy decisions, like the decision to step in to fight John Fitch when preparing for Jake Ellenberger. In Bellator, Saunders has been outspoken in his dekight at the tournament format, where perfromances and wins rather than politics lead to promotion through the ranks. He seems to thriving under the pressure of the knockout setup (as well, it has to be said, from a slightly lower level of opposition). Saunders' background is pretty cool, beginning martial arts training Jeet Kune Do. He has a dynamic striking style, passable wrestling, great top game (including sharp elbows) and looks good off his back.

Douglas Lima is on an 8 fight win streak including three fights in Canada's premier promotion and
two fights in Bellator. At 23 years old, he is technically an up and comer but with 24 fights under his belt he could equally be considered a veteran. The Saunders fight represents a step up in class from anyone he has fought before and, despite his winning streak, this may well be a tough test for the Brazillian. He is a well rounded fighter with high Brazillian Ju Jitsu credentials and viscious Muay Thai. More than half his career wins have come by submission but in recent bouts he has tried to emphasise his improved stand up.

The new and improved “Killer Bee” will find it relatively easy to deal with Lima's stand up and, should it go to the ground I expect to see Saunders on top. Expect to see Lima bloodied up and a TKO in the second round.

Let's not overlook Bellator 57 this weekend.  The tournament format offers some relief from the relentless marketing and political machinations that get in the way of the fights that should happen in the UFC.  Despite getting pretty low viewing figures, Bellator consistently puts on great shows.

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