Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas found his best day in 2012, when he earned a second-round submission win over former champion Zach Makovsky. However, some months later, Tyson Nam handed Dantas his worst day when he knocked out the young champion at a Shooto Brazil event.

Now, Dantas returns to face mentor and tournament winner Marcos Galvao in a battle of Nova Uniao training partners and friends. Neither man exhibits a qualm about it, as Dantas wants to retain the gold and Galvao wants to sport the gold. We will learn of who achieves that goal, ironically, on Valentine’s Day.

Also on Valentine’s Day, eight men compete in Bellator’s season-eight middleweight tournament for a shot at $100,000 and a date with Alexander Shlemenko for the Bellator middleweight title. Norman Paraisy fights Brett Cooper, Dan Cramer faces Brian Rogers, Doug Marshall contends with Andreas Spang, and Mikkel Parlo faces Sultan Aliev.

As always, The MMA Corner thanks you for choosing us as your home for your official Bellator 89 preview. Once again, we await a stellar Bellator tournament and a thriller of a title fight, so we especially thank you for allowing us to break down the entire night of fights from top to bottom!

BW Championship: Eduardo Dantas (14-2) vs. Marcos Galvao (13-5-1)

Galvao (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Fans knew this fight would happen sometime down the line. Eduardo Dantas showed the type of aggression we traditionally love seeing in a raw prospect, and Marcos Galvao proved himself to be one of the toughest bantamweight talents early in his Bellator run, which paid off when he finished Luis Nogueira last year.

If you recall, Galvao’s early Bellator run met with plagues in the form of ridiculous decision losses to Joe Warren and Alexis Vila. Depending on who answers the question, maybe the loss to Warren proves more ridiculous than the loss to Vila, but Galvao bounced back in season six. Before putting his hands to work against Nogueira, he outpointed and outworked Ed West and Travis Marx.

Galvao will fight a special breed of fighter when he faces Dantas, who outworked Vila in the season-five bantamweight final. The Nam loss aside, Dantas’ aggression proves problematic for any fighter because the pace he sets can gradually overwhelm his opponents, most of whom can’t match his pace or stay with him on the ground. Then again, none of Dantas’ past opponents knew him as well as Galvao knows him.

Honestly, this fight can turn in a multitude of exchanges, but I would stand in some shock if either man intended to slow the other down by bringing this to the ground. If it does go to the ground, expect it to reset to the stand-up within five seconds of the takedown’s completion. Expect Galvao to possess the power and Dantas to bring on the technical striking, with the champion’s technically-sound strikes damaging his mentor and swaying the unanimous decision victory in his favor to secure his hold on the belt.

MW Tourney Quarterfinal: Brian Rogers (10-4) vs. Dan Cramer (9-3)

Rogers (R) delivers a right hand (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

What do we say about Brian Rogers that we haven’t already said? The man can fight his heart out against anyone and he does not go down without a fight, even when he clearly loses a round. Despite losses to champion Shlemenko and fellow quarterfinalist Spang, Rogers stands as the arguable favorite to take the tournament.

He faces a tough task against Dan Cramer. Cramer holds something of a “dark horse” status, as the former two-time UFC veteran comes in on a two-fight winning streak. While Rogers will favor a finish however it comes, Cramer holds no reservations about going the distance with Rogers if he needs to do so in order to make it to the semifinals.

A submission remains possible, although unlikely, so expect Cramer to use some wrestling if he thinks about taking this one to the ground. If not, expect Rogers to post Cramer up against the cage and wear him out for two rounds. It won’t look pretty for the first two frames, but Rogers will hold enough in him to stun Cramer in round three and earn a TKO stoppage.

MW Tourney Quarterfinal: Brett Cooper (17-7) vs. Norman Paraisy (10-2-1, 1 NC)

Cooper (top) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

In two Bellator outings, Norman Paraisy suffered defeats. Now he looks to stifle the most experienced member of the middleweight field in Brett Cooper.

Paraisy brings a respectable seven finishes with five submission wins, including four first-round submissions. Whether he submits Cooper will be a different story, but it won’t come easy.

Cooper, best noted for finishing 11 of his pro bouts, comes in as a man who will either finish this fight or get finished trying. The brunt of his losses come by decision, so if Cooper cannot find the knockout, only a high amount of aggression and pressure will ensure that he takes the fight on the cards. With the judges, however, nobody ever knows.

Therefore, Cooper’s best bet comes down to how long it takes him to fire his hands off on Paraisy. Paraisy does not succumb to strikes easily, so it will take a well-timed shot and a flurry of strikes to put Paraisy out. That said, Paraisy will not go out, despite Cooper’s best efforts, thus leaving the experienced finisher to settle for a unanimous decision win.

MW Tourney Quarterfinal: Andreas Spang (8-2) vs. Doug Marshall (15-6)

Spang (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Andreas Spang appeared in the season-six tourney as a replacement for Bruno Santos, and he handed Brian Rogers a semifinal loss. However, he fell short to Maiquel Falcao by unanimous decision in the finals of the tournament. Now, Spang gets a chance to win it all as a participant in this season’s bracket. But this time, a wily veteran will get in his face.

Doug Marshall, a former WEC light heavyweight champion, serves as a dark horse in this tournament despite his finishing prowess. He rides the strength of a recent Bellator win, and like fellow veteran Brett Cooper, Marshall finishes most of his bouts by some form of knockout.

In all likelihood, this one turns in an intense affair with someone getting caught and paying for a technical error. If history taught us anything, it’s that Spang often can excel in exchanges while Marshall can always remain susceptible to a well-placed shot. That said, Marshall will cement his status as the tournament dark horse with a powerful TKO finish late in the third round.

Preliminary Card
BW: Tim Goodwin (7-3) vs. James Davis (3-0)

James Davis owns two decisions and one submission win. Tim Goodwin, like most of the fighters on this card, finds the finish more often than not. The veteran Goodwin will go the distance with Davis, and he will earn a split decision win after a tough, grinding fight.

WW: Chris Mierzwiak (4-2) vs. Johnny Buck (11-8)

Chris Mierzwiak and Johnny Buck make their debuts for Bellator at this event. Buck holds the experience, but as he hunts for the KO, fatigue will set in. Mierzwiak will capitalize and finish this fight via submission in round two.

MW: Joseph Pacheco (3-0) vs. Kyle Bolt (6-2)

Undefeated submission aces Joseph Pacheco and Kyle Bolt fight each other in middleweight action. Bolt holds a TKO win in his most recent bout, but with both men fighting fire with fire in the grappling aspect, Bolt should come out with the dominant win here. Bolt takes a unanimous decision with two of the three judges giving Bolt 30-27 scores in a close fight.

MW Tourney Quarterfinal: Sultan Aliev (8-0) vs. Mikkel Parlo (9-0)

Crazy as it sounds, I would invest in both prospects’ careers, regardless of the winner here. Both hold potential to make major waves in the division and to stand out as the premier middleweight from their respective countries. That said, Mikkel Parlo, despite his youth, hunts for knockouts with malicious intent, and the same should happen, even against the hungry Russian Sultan Aliev. Parlo by late first-round knockout.

WW: Brennan Ward (5-0) vs. Aaron Johnson (11-10, 1 NC)

Aaron Johnson’s record will show wins over the likes of James Hammortree and Johnny Buck and losses against the likes of BJ Ferguson, Matt Van Buren and Clint Hester. Ward stands undefeated with three TKOs and one knockout win. Despite the veteran experience of Johnson, Ward will find a weak spot in Johnson’s game and secure a mid-first-round TKO victory after catching Johnson early.

HW: Mont McMullens (2-3) vs. David Mejia (4-0)

Undefeated David Mejia makes his first appearance in Bellator opposite Mont McMullens, who went 2-1 in 2012 despite coming back after two years away from the cage. If Mejia’s lone decision win in the amateurs proves any indication, this one should do well enough to last until the final bell in a fun start to the night. Mejia by split decision.

Top Photo: Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas (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.