Bellator returns to action after a little hiatus on Friday and opens up season seven with its welterweight tournament quarterfinals. Eight 170-pounders will enter the cage at Bellator 74 at Caesars Atlantic City in Atlantic City, N.J., on Friday night with the hopes of emerging victorious and continuing along the path to an eventual title shot.

The tournament features some of the brightest stars outside of the major promotions. Marius Zaromskis returns to the cage in this tournament along with Jim Wallhead, Lyman Good and what could be the biggest Russian prospect out there, Michail Tsarev.

The main card does lack a title fight or prominent bout outside of the tourney, but it should be a pretty good kickoff to season seven.

The main card of Bellator 74 airs live on MTV 2 starting at 8 p.m. ET with prelims airing on Spike.com both before (7 p.m. ET) and after (10 p.m. ET) the main card.

WW Quarterfinals: Lyman Good (12-2) vs. Jim Wallhead (23-6)

Wallhead (R) celebrates (Martin Rhodes/Sherdog)

Lyman Good is the former Bellator welterweight champion and, as such, is also a veteran of Bellator’s tournament format. Granted, his reign as champion came during the early days of Bellator. His first defense saw him drop the title to current champion Ben Askren.

That alone gives Good an edge when it comes to the tournament style. It doesn’t play a huge or even major factor, but the experience—this being his third tournament—goes a long way to help. Good was bounced earlier this year from another Bellator welterweight tournament by Rick Hawn, so I’m sure that still stings a little bit.

Good is able to outpoint everybody on his way to a decision and also owns six wins by way of knockout. So, he is a pretty dangerous fighter.

Wallhead is currently on a two-fight winning streak after being bounced by Hawn in the quarterfinal round before Good was bounced in the semifinals. Wallhead is a finisher, owning 16 early victories with nine coming by knockout and seven by submission. Two of the submission wins do come by punches.

Wallhead has looked pretty good in BAMMA, and I’m sure that will carry over here. I think Wallhead can finish this fight in the second round.

WW Quarterfinals: Andrey Koreshkov (10-0) vs. Jordan Smith (17-3-1)

Koreshkov (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Andrey Koreshkov comes in as a dangerous young prospect, having won both of his fights in Bellator. I said Wallhead was a finisher, but here is one more—at age 22, all of his victories are finishes. Seven knockouts and three submissions make his fight one to be watched.

Koreshkov has dangerous hands and can knock out just about anyone in Bellator. If this stays on the feet, Koreshkov will eventually wear down Jordan Smith.

Smith has a tough fight here and is coming off a loss to David Rickels at Bellator 63 in the quarterfinal round of the last welterweight tournament. The loss was by knockout, which helps make this pick easier. Smith is a dangerous fighter though, with 14 finishes in his career, eight by submission. If the fight does hit the ground, Smith could very well pull off a submission against the lesser ground expert, Koreshkov.

I’m really high on Koreshkov, I think he looked great in his last two Bellator fights and at his age he has a tremendous upside. The Russian is also extremely dangerous and is my dark horse pick for this tournament. Koreshkov by first-round knockout.

WW Quarterfinals: Michail Tsarev (23-2) vs. Tim Welch (9-3)

Tsarev (Sherdog)

Another dangerous Eastern European in this tournament is Michail Tsarev, who owns 21 early stoppage victories, eighteen of which come by way of submission.

Tsarev is very dangerous on the ground, and if Tim Welch wants to survive and win the fight, he will have to avoid hitting the mat at all costs. Tsarev will make him pay if he goes to the ground. Tsarev’s striking isn’t entirely a huge red flag, but it is enough to make his opponent semi-cautious about being overly aggressive in the fight.

Welch does have some power, owning three knockout victories—not TKOs, but straight knockouts. Welch’s submissions have been mostly rear-naked choke victories, but I don’t think it will come to that. I already said it earlier: Welch does need to keep this fight standing.

Unfortunately, I can type “keep this fight standing” until my fingers go numb, but it is up to Welch to implement that strategy in the fight. I don’t think it will last, however, and eventually Tsarev gets the fight to the ground and locks in a submission victory in round two.

WW Quarterfinals: Marius Zaromskis (18-6) vs. Nordine Taleb (8-1)

Zaromskis (L) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Marius Zaromskis last fought in July in a rematch of a rematch against Waachiim Spiritwolf. Zaromskis has some quality striking, but he didn’t look dominant against Spiritwolf, who isn’t exactly a top-tier fighter. It makes me wonder how well Nordine Taleb will do in this fight, seeing as how Spiritwolf was able to keep the fight close with the former Dream welterweight champion.

Zaromskis will definitely keep this fight standing, as that is where he is most comfortable and has some very creative striking that can result in a knockout. The man is simply a human weapon on the feet, seemingly making up techniques as he goes along.

Zaromskis needs to get a little more aggressive this time around after a poor showing against Spiritwolf. If he doesn’t pick it up, he will fall victim in this fight.

Taleb is a solid fighter and makes for a good early test for Zaromskis in this tournament. Taleb has five victories by knockout, and has pretty good hands and ground-and-pound. Taleb doesn’t have to worry about the ground here thankfully, and I’ll give him more than a puncher’s chance in this fight.

I think Zaromskis fixes what went wrong in his last fight and dominates Taleb early on while winning a unanimous decision.

Preliminaries

FW: Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra (13-2) vs. Jeff Smith (10-1)

Both of these fighters are prospects at featherweight. Alexandre Bezerra is coming off a loss to Marlon Sandro in the featherweight tournament. Jeff Smith, on the other hand, is on a ten-fight winning streak, finishing seven opponents with devastating submissions. I’ll take Bezerra though to win by decision. Should be fun to watch.

LW: Derrick Kennington (6-3) vs. Phillipe Nover (5-4-1)

Ever wonder what happened to Phillipe Nover after his Ultimate Fighter days? Well, here’s your chance to find out. After yet another lengthy hiatus from active competition following his Bellator 59 loss to Marcin Held in 2011, Nover returns to take on Derrick Kennington. Nover is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is dangerous on the ground. Kennington is also good on the ground, owning five submission victories. I’ll take Nover to win by submission.

FW: Jay Haas (10-10) vs. Bryan Van Artsdalen (6-4)

Jay Haas is currently on a four-fight losing streak with his last win coming in July of 2011. He does finish his fights though, owning nine stoppage victories in his career. If given the opportunity, Bryan Van Artsdalen will choke his opponent out, as he has done in all six of his wins. If Haas makes one wrong move, leaves too much space or comes at Van Artsdalen with bad posture, watch for Van Artsdalen to choke him out. Van Artsdalen by submission.

Women’s BW: Munah Holland (5-1) vs. Michelle Ould (6-4)

In the Bellator women’s feature fight, we get a good one between Munah Holland and Michelle Ould. Holland owns three knockout wins and is a veteran of New Jersey’s Ring of Combat promotion, making her a local favorite on this card. She is a tough fighter with a lot of power behind her hands with her last two wins coming by vicious knockouts. Ould is another good fighter who has fought some significant names, such as Zoila Gurgel, in her career. I think Holland takes the fight by knockout in the second.

MW: Plinio Cruz (5-4) vs. Kelvin Tiller (5-0)

Plinio Cruz is on a three-fight losing streak with his most recent loss coming in the Bellator ranks by way of a TKO. Cruz gets a tough opponent here in Kelvin Tiller, who at 5-0 owns three submission victories. At age 22, Tiller has some good upside and will take this fight by submission in the third.

BW: Kenny Foster (10-6) vs. Claudio Ledesma (6-3)

Kenny Foster won his last outing, snapping a four-fight losing streak. He has submitted five people in his career and could very well get his sixth submission here against Claudio Ledesma. It’s tough, but definitely is a possibility against Ledesma. Ledesma’s only losses have come by decision, with two being split decision losses. I see Foster capturing the split decision win.

Top Photo: Former Bellator champion Lyman Good (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.