All roads normally lead to the gold, but out of the remaining welterweights in the season-seven tourney, only one of the four can claim their shot at either current champion Ben Askren or his upcoming challenger, Karl Amoussou.
Former champion Lyman Good wants his belt back, and he hopes to take it from Askren, but Michail Tsarev looks to halt Good’s trek towards another title fight. Meanwhile, Marius Zaromskis wants his own crack at some gold, but the issue for Zaromskis lies in the daunting task which Andrey Koreshkov presents to him.
Also, Daniel Straus can all but guarantee his crack at Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran, but to secure his claim, he must stay on the winning track. And to do that, he must put away one Alvin Robinson. Robinson is a UFC veteran, but he has his work cut out for him against Straus.
Finally, Brian Rogers returns to contend with another middleweight threat. Though Dominique Steele may not strike many as a threat, he does aim to put Rogers on a two-fight skid. Rogers, however, is a gritty fighter who does not go down quietly, if at all, in any middleweight fight.
From top to bottom, Bellator 78 aims high and looks to strike big as the welterweight tournament draws closer to its end, and as always, The MMA Corner thanks you for choosing us as your home for your official Bellator 78 preview!
Lyman Good, former Bellator welterweight champion, defeated Jim Wallhead in Bellator’s season-seven welterweight quarterfinals. In closing out a night of exemplary action, Good took the unanimous decision by using his striking and clinch game to wear Wallhead down. The win put him one step closer to the rematch he seeks opposite reigning champion Ben Askren.
Michail Tsarev came into Bellator on a highly-impressive 11-fight winning streak that extended to 2010. When he debuted against Tim Welch, he only took a round and a half to submit Welch, moving himself closer to a title bid of his own. He now faces Good in the main event of Bellator 78 in a bout that would actually favor Tsarev on paper.
In short, Tsarev will prove the more efficient grappler in the bout, while Good will threaten Tsarev slightly more on the feet. Of course, last week, experience proved such a daunting roadblock for potential, so we must account for Tsarev’s longevity in the sport. In the end, however, Good’s will to regain his title will overcome Tsarev’s experience, and Good will gut out another hard-fought unanimous decision.
Marius Zaromskis has made his career off of flashy striking and wicked knockouts. He delivered the former more than the latter against Nordine Taleb, but he did earn a unanimous decision over Taleb.
Andrey Koreshkov knows about going to decisions, though he found himself able to end his first ten career fights. Against Jordan Smith, however, Koreshkov had to earn a win by pushing himself the distance. While Smith did have Koreshkov in some deep submission attempts, Koreshkov found himself able to hang on until the end.
Will more of the same happen for Koreshkov against Zaromskis? Perhaps it will, and perhaps Koreshkov should prepare to present as unpredictable a grappling game as Zaromskis presents in his striking. This one could stay on the feet and create quite the kickboxing bout, and if that is the case, expect Zaromskis to get the better end of a split decision, but don’t count Koreshkov out before or after this fight. One doesn’t simply call himself a Rusfighter Sports Club member without bringing a heart with them on fight night.
Dominique Steele lives up to his name as “Non-Stop Action Packed” with just about every fight he takes. The kid only fought to the distance twice, and he won once, but overall, the kid finishes.
Brian Rogers brings in a similar mindset, as he also comes in to either gain a finish or get finished. Don’t misinterpret Rogers’ recent 3-2 run as a susceptibility to stoppages. One should never expect anything less than a killer instinct from Rogers, who remains a threat to any middleweight with two feet and two fists.
Steele may shock fight fans with his performance, but not just anyone stops “The Predator.” Rogers needs the win just as much as Steele does, but when Rogers faces defeat, he shows up in the next outing and performs as if he needs the win just to save his own life. Hyperboles aside, Rogers’ killer instinct will carry him towards a vicious first-round knockout victory yet again.
Alvin Robinson doesn’t ring too many bells, but he does have a claim as a UFC veteran. As a matter of fact, he does have fights against the likes of Kenny Florian and Nate Diaz under his belt. Those losses aside, Robinson can claim a 3-2 mark in his last five, and he aims for another win against Daniel Straus.
Cue the “easier said than done” here. Straus owns one of the few legitimate victories over Marlon Sandro, and he has already fought Bellator’s other top 145ers, Patricio Freire and Pat Curran. Some may question if his striking really did improve against Sandro, as opposed to a case of an inadvertent cup-shot causing sluggishness in Sandro, but Straus definitely has the wrestling needed to put his opponent through a hellish struggle from start to finish.
I will find myself in shock if Straus struggles against Robinson. Straus knows just the right techniques to force his opponents to fatigue and look as though they cannot defend even the shoddiest takedown attempt. Expect Straus’ wrestling to factor in, forcing Robinson to eventually tap out as Straus secures a rear-naked choke in round two.
One fight separates Jake Nauracy from Justin McNally, but that doesn’t say as much as many would like for it to say. Nauracy’s willingness to force a tap, on the other hand, speaks with more conviction than McNally’s one win by unanimous decision in the amateur circuit. McNally exhibits potential, but Nauracy will outwork him in the first round and secure a second-round submission victory by sinking in a deep armbar.
Much like Nauracy vs. McNally, the one-fight difference between Rocky Edwards and Rob Hanna does not say as much as we would like for it to say, as it pertains to pro records. Believe it or not, however, Hanna exudes more experience and his career suggests that he excels in overwhelming his foes before notching the win. Provided Hanna dismisses an urge to get overconfident and basically leave a door open for Edwards to capitalize, Hanna will create a “rocky” obstacle for Edwards. Hanna will continue his winning ways with a TKO victory in the first round.
And yes, the pun deserves to exists in this case.
In eight pro fights, Danish prospect Mikkel Parlo only went the distance once. He owns a finisher’s reputation now, but his road to greatness will take some time to traverse. Right now, we cannot say for sure if Parlo presents the type of grappling and submission weaponry that Jason Butcher presented to Parlo’s Bellator 78 foe, Jared Combs, but I trust his aggression against Combs. If Parlo cannot find a TKO or knockout finish against Combs, he will find Combs’ neck and earn a submission win via guillotine choke in the later minutes of the first round.
Trey Houston needs a main card slot with a win here. The kid hits to finish and cannot miss, regardless of whether he closes in the opening minute of the first round or the dying minutes of the third round, and the fact is that it clearly does resonate with fans enough to get him back to the Bellator stage.
The fact that Houston has the energy and cardio to do it consistently should give Mojo Horne a few things to think about, but Horne’s experience in the sport should give Houston plenty to contemplate. Both men love to finish, but Horne appears to know how to leave it in the judges’ hands and prevail, since he’s done it once before. Don’t get comfy with the notion of him doing it again, though, as Houston will pressure Horne from the onset and finish the fight by TKO in round two after slightly outworking Horne in round one.
Don’t ask me what Zoila Gurgel, Bellator’s 115-pound women’s champion, is doing fighting Casey Noland on a Spike.com prelim. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney states that Gurgel vs. Noland’s placement comes due to Gurgel’s time on the shelf due to injury. In either case, both women are gutsy and do not go down without a fight. Gurgel might catch criticism for not finishing fights as of late, but a win’s a win, regardless of how it comes, and Gurgel will fight to grind out another unanimous decision in a triumphant return to action.
Jason Butcher owns a 4-0 pro record, but people may not realize that every name on Butcher’s record fought at least once in Bellator. Shaun Asher debuts for Bellator on this card, but while he doesn’t own a record of all finishes like Butcher, he does hold promise in the long run of his career. Nonetheless, I like Butcher to hurt Asher and prevail with a TKO in the third round, despite two tough rounds against a wily Asher.
Photo: Lyman Good (L) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)