The baddest man on the planet is back, and he takes center stage once again this Saturday.

Call Joe Warren what you want, but Bellator’s brash former featherweight champion remains a must-see figure in the promotion. He will take his world-class wrestling to bantamweight once again in the main event of Bellator 80 against relative newcomer Owen Evinger.

Also, two season-seven tournament semifinal bouts will transpire in front of an electrified crowd at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. WEC veteran Wagnney Fabiano faces Rad Martinez for a spot opposite Shahmulat Shamhalaev in this season’s featherweight final, while Vinicius Queiroz and Alexander Volkov compete in the heavyweight semifinal in order to earn a fight with Richard Hale in the final—which will decide Bellator’s second-ever heavyweight champion.

Finally, two prospects of the sport open up an exciting main card of fights as Brett Cooper fights Darryl Cobb.

As always, The MMA Corner thanks you for choosing us as your home for your official Bellator 80 preview, and as the heavyweight and featherweight tournaments come closer to closure, we once again walk you through everything you must know about this card from top to bottom!

FW: Joe Warren (7-3) vs. Owen Evinger (7-3)

Evinger (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Joe Warren’s loss to Alexis Vila taught the world that you can never count Warren out of a fight until you see someone put out his lights. Warren’s title loss to Pat Curran proved that not only do referees really need to up their game, but also that he might have bigger competition within the division than he thought.

Nevertheless, the former champion wants to prove that his wrestling and budding stand-up better suits him at 135 pounds, but he will have a rough task ahead of him, even if the rest of the MMA world thinks otherwise.

Owen Evinger’s only flaw appears to be a sub-par submission defense, though Warren represents the type of wrestler that could present a similar flaw. Of course, we must point out that while Warren owns two KO losses in his current two-fight skid, Evinger owns three submission losses, so Evinger does suggest a good chin. It also helps that he’s won three times in three fights that went the distance.

Outside of the fact that Evinger’s record suggests a respectable grappling game when he’s on the offensive, very few know about what this kid can do. Hopefully he shows something in this bout with Warren, but with Warren looking to prove he never lost a step, Evinger might find himself overmatched. Expect a vintage Joe Warren performance to lead to a first-round submission win for the former champion.

FW Tournament Semifinal: Wagnney Fabiano (15-3) vs. Rad Martinez (13-2)

Martinez (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Wagnney Fabiano only lost twice before Joseph Benavidez forced him to tap in the second round of their WEC 52 bout. After two years away from the cage, Fabiano had some questions to answer against Akop Stepanyan. Surprisingly, Fabiano only needed 3:24 of the first round of his bout with Stepanyan to prove that the two years away from action did little to negatively affect his jiu-jitsu game.

Fabiano hopes that jiu-jitsu game will carry him to a bout with Shahbulat Shamhalaev, but Rad Martinez stands in the way. In addition to caring for his father and family, Martinez also maintains his career as a successful MMA prospect. Currently 4-1 in his last five, the former NCAA Division I wrestler outworked Nazareno Malegarie in order to reach this point.

One can expect that Martinez’s wrestling and punching power will prove effective to a degree, but very rarely can a man take a Brazilian to the ground without getting submitted. Fabiano will look to either get the fight to the ground or create an opening for a submission from off his back.

The end result will come in a split decision win, as Martinez does enough to win on top, but comes up short due to Fabiano’s aggressive—albeit unsuccessful—attempts to end the fight on the ground.

HW tournament semifinal: Vinicius Queiroz (6-2) vs. Alexander Volkov (17-3)

Volkov (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Two years after losing to Rob Broughton, testing positive for a banned substance, and getting released from the UFC, Vinicius Queiroz put himself on a road to redemption by submitting Mark Holota in the first round of their Bellator heavyweight quarterfinal bout. The win re-cemented Queiroz as a potential prospect to watch at 265 and a potential contender for Bellator’s vacant heavyweight belt.

He can achieve championship status if he beats Richard Hale in the heavyweight tournament final, but he must get past Alexander Volkov if he wants to fight Hale for the belt. Volkov, who appears like something other than a heavyweight at first glance, comes off an impressive win over Brett Rogers. In the process of implementing his 81-inch reach against Rogers, Volkov killed two birds with one stone—earning a unanimous decision victory while causing Rogers to suffer a broken arm.

The MMA world can openly blame me for having a soft spot for Volkov here, not only because of the reach, but also because of the damage that we may see Volkov do while utilizing that reach. Of course, should it get into a grappling battle, Queiroz can use that reach against Volkov, but Volkov appears smarter than that. Expect Volkov’s reach to earn him another unanimous decision, thus setting up Volkov vs. Hale for the gold.

MW: Brett Cooper (16-7) vs. Darryl Cobb (7-7)

Cobb (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

If you recognize Darryl Cobb on Saturday night, it might be because you recall his appearance at Bellator 53 last October. Unfortunately, Cobb fell on the receiving end of an armbar, which came at the hands of Giva Santana, in that contest. Cobb can land a shot and earn his TKO’s, but with a 1-4 run in his last five, Cobb’s back has to be feeling the coldness of the wall for this bout.

Brett Cooper’s experience doesn’t help Cobb any, either. As a matter of fact, that this fight comes as Cooper’s first official bout in a little less than a year saves Cobb some anxiety. That said, the Kings MMA standout’s reputation as a finisher should inspire some sort of game plan in Cobb.

If it cannot do such a thing, Cobb can expect himself to be on the receiving end of some sort of knockout or submission finish. Cobb has just as much of a chance to finish as Cooper does, but not just anyone stops a man like “Fudoshin”. Don’t cross your fingers for Cobb; while the man has a bright future ahead, he will stumble and fall, while Cooper finds himself earning a quick second-round submission victory.

Prelims

LW: Cosmo Alexandre (4-1) vs. Josh Quayhagen (6-0)

Alexandre-Quahagen II appears is a long time coming for Bellator fans. Remember, Josh Quayhagen spoiled the MMA debut of “Good Boy” Cosmo Alexandre, but while Quayhagen’s momentum progresses, so does that of Alexandre. That said, the winner of the first encounter rarely falls in the second encounter. Sorry “Good Boy,” I do like you, but I like Quayhagen’s odds of scoring another unanimous decision win just a tad more.

MW: Joe Vedepo (13-5) vs. Mike Bernhard (9-4)

With what we can gather about Joe Vedepo, he likes his share of finishes, especially his submissions. As for “El Gringo Diablo” Mike Bernhard, he prefers just punching people until the ref pulls him off. Don’t hold your breath on a decision here. It’s a close call, but give me Bernhard’s fists over Vedepo by TKO, as Bernhard finds an opening for a takedown and then finds some ground-and-pound.

FW: Sky Moiseichik (2-1) vs. Shanon Slack (4-1)

Shanon Slack comes off of his first pro loss to take on Sky Moiseichik. Moiseichik has yet to reach the judges’ scorecards, but the kid still maintains a large area to grow into his own as a fighter. If this one gets past the second round, Slack will bag the win by a decision, unless he outworks Moiseichik before finding a TKO finish.

LW: Brandon Girtz (7-2) vs. Michael Quinones (3-0)

A common theme exists within these prelims, for those who’ve noticed: each prelim fight features at least one fighter that either only owns one or two decision wins/losses, or it features a fighter who has never been to a decision.

Michael Quinones is one such fighter, having only gone to a decision once (he won a unanimous verdict in that outing). Brandon Girtz owns two decision victories and is yet to claim a win by a form of knockout. I’ll call this a pick ‘em fight and take Girtz by a split decision.

WW: Robert Otani (3-2-1) vs. Cristiano Souza (5-0)

Let’s call this one a finisher-vs.-finisher tilt. Souza finished all but his most recent bout, while Otani never officially won by decision—though he didn’t lose a decision either. This should be a back-and-forth battle, but I would give the edge to Souza, who should take this by submission.

WW: Ryan DeRocher (3-4) vs. Taylor Krahl (3-1)

Taylor Krahl owns all three of his wins by submission, but only two of them come by way of an actual submission hold, whereas one comes by punches. Ryan DeRocher owns one win by TKO, one win by submission, and one win by a split decision, but all of his losses come by submission. With that in mind, I can’t see this one ending in any way other than a submission win of some sort for Krahl early in the second round.

Photo: Bellator 80’s Joe Warren (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.