Bellator MMA is set to continue its ninth season on Nov. 15 with Bellator 108. Live from Atlantic City, N.J., the card boasts a deep lineup that includes a heavyweight championship fight, a featherweight tournament final and the promotional debut of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Rampage headlines opposite Joey Beltran in a light heavyweight bout. Jackson was supposed to make his debut at Bellator 106, but an injury to Tito Ortiz scrapped the fight. Beltran, a recent UFC castoff, jumped at the opportunity, which allowed Bellator to feature Jackson in its main event just two weeks after his original fight date with Ortiz.

The other two featured fights are high-stakes affairs. Alexander Volkov defends his heavyweight strap against Vitaly Minakov, and Patricio Freire and Justin Wilcox vie for a chance to fight Daniel Straus for the featherweight title.

Without further ado, let’s preview the Bellator 108 card and make some predictions.

LHW: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-11) vs. Joey Beltran (14-9)

A pair of fighters who made their bones in the UFC meet in the feature contest when former UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson takes on recent UFC castoff Joey Beltran. It will be a battle of sluggers to say the least.

Jackson has fallen on hard times as of late, going 2-4 in his last six. Though he claimed decision wins over Matt Hamill and Lyoto Machida in that time, he looked lackluster at best in fights with Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans. He used to use his great wrestling and ground-and-pound to dominate opponents, but has moved away from that and has now opted to box with his adversaries instead. Furthermore, he has shown poor takedown defense against wrestlers.

Beltran is not going to be looking for any takedowns, though. He is a brawler who loves to bang. He just fought in October, where he lost a close decision to Fabio Maldonado. Though he can utilize the takedown, he will be looking for a fun brawl with Jackson. Beltran does have knockout power, with 11 of his wins coming via strikes.

Beltran has an immense chin, but Jackson can knock anybody out. Look for Beltran to try to clinch to win points, but Jackson is stronger. This could be sloppy, or it could be fireworks. Either way, Rampage is being set up for success here and should take this bout.

HW Championship: Alexander Volkov (19-3) vs. Vitaly Minakov (12-0)

Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov is set to defend his title for the first time when he takes on undefeated prospect Vitaly Minakov. Both men are Russians and could be considered top heavyweights in the world.

Volkov is a power striker that is big and long, standing at 6-foot-7. He won the title after winning the season-seven tournament. As the victor, he captured the vacant title Cole Konrad left behind. Volkov decisioned Brett Rogers and Rich Hale in that tournament, and knocked out Vinicius Queiroz. He is a striker that is going to want to use distance and tire out Minakov before going for the kill.

Minakov is also a striker. He has good takedowns and some submission ability. His road to the title saw him win the four-man Summer Series tournament. In that bracket, he knocked out Ron Sparks and Ryan Martinez to earn this spot. If he can get inside, he has the stopping power to put away Volkov. This power has been seen in wins over the likes of Fabiano Scherner and Eddie Sanchez, as well as Sparks and Martinez.

This is going to be a very interesting fight. If Minakov can touch Volkov’s chin, he could steal the belt. If Volkov touches Minakov’s chin, he could retain his title. This is going to be a fun battle of strikers, with occasional clinches and takedown attempts. When it’s all said and done, Volkov will use his size as the x-factor and run a close decision.

FW Tournament Final: Patricio Freire (20-2) vs. Justin Wilcox (13-5)

The season-nine featherweight tournament is set to come to a close, as Bellator staple Patricio Freire looks to win another tourney over Strikeforce veteran Justin Wilcox. If you remember, Wilcox took this tournament spot on late notice for Shahbulat Shamhalaev.

Freire has been one of the poster boys of Bellator. He is one of the long-running participants in the company’s tournament format. Though he has great jiu-jitsu, he has been noted for his power striking as of late. In the quarterfinals, Freire quickly finished UFC veteran Diego Nunes with a vicious one-punch knockout. Then, in the semifinals, he won in balanced performance against Fabricio Guerreiro.

Wilcox is a power wrestler that has used takedowns, ground-and-pound and surprising submission ability to overwhelm the field of 145-pounders. In the quarterfinals, he overcame a first-round leg kick fiesta to ground Akop Stepanyan and choke him out. He followed that up in the semifinals by using his superior wrestling, strength and size to repeatedly put Joe Taimanglo on his back en route to a decision win.

In this bout, Wilcox desperately needs to put Freire on his back to be successful. However, “Pitbull” has shown good takedown defense up to this point. Plus, when he is able to touch somebody’s chin, they rarely stay awake. The Brazilian should use superior striking to hurt Wilcox and put him away to set up another featherweight title shot.

BW: Marcos Galvao (14-6-1) vs. Tom McKenna (7-3)

Brazilian Marcos Galvao will be looking to get back into a future Bellator bantamweight tournament, but standing in his way is Super Fight League vet Tom McKenna. The winner puts themselves in position to travel the road to the 135-pound title.

Galvao is a ground fighter representing the elite Nova Uniao camp. Though he is a submission fighter, he is yet to win via tapout, as most of his wins came via decision. His time in Bellator has seen mixed results, with the peak being a title shot against teammate Eduardo Dantas. Galvao lost that fight via knockout. However, he has seen notable triumphs over the likes of Chase Beebe, Travis Marx and Luis Nogueira.

McKenna comes in as the big underdog. He does not possess the experience or competition level of Galvao. The Louisville MMA product is a submission fighter, but he would be fighting fire with fire going to the ground with Galvao. His biggest fight to date saw him get tapped out by Sergio Pettis, which shows he does have some holes in his submission defense, which is something he cannot afford to have against a vulture like Galvao.

This seems like a pretty standard match-up between a Bellator mainstay and an imported opponent. This match-up is tailor-made for Galvao, whose strength is McKenna’s strength, only superior. Expect Galvao to set up takedowns with strikes, before eventually grinding out the American for 15 minutes.

Preliminary Card

Catchweight (175 pounds): Nah-Shon Burrell (10-3) vs. Jesus Martinez (8-4)

Welterweight Nah-Shon Burrell will take on late-replacement fighter Jesus Martinez, who fills in for Dante Rivera. Burrell is a power boxer with great athleticism and quickness. Most of his wins came via knockout, including a Strikeforce stoppage of Lukasz Les. Martinez is a well-rounded fighter whose only losses came against top guys like Karl Amoussou and George Sullivan. He has been susceptible to the knockout, which is what Burrell will be looking for. Expect a fun win for Burrell via knockout.

FW: Will Martinez (7-2-1) vs. Kevin Roddy (13-14-1)

Kurt Pellegrino disciple Kevin Roddy makes his return to Bellator looking to put his record back to .500 when he takes on Philadelphia’s Will Martinez. Roddy is a submission fighter and has tapped out 11 of his opponents, including Brylan van Artsdalen in his Bellator debut. His weapons of choice on the ground have been the armbar and triangle choke, evidence that he is comfortable even off his back. Martinez has shown some cracks in his submission defense, but he is a finisher with good power and a killer instinct. If Martinez can touch Roddy’s chin, he can score a knockout, which is what may happen here.

WW: Sam Oropeza (9-2) vs. Chip Moraza-Pollard (7-5)

Fight Master veteran Chip Moraza-Pollard looks to reverse his fate from the show when he takes on Philadelphia Fight Factory rep Sam Oropeza. Moraza-Pollard is a lanky striker who is tough as nails, but lacks a keynote victory. He could get that against Oropeza, who is an East Coast fight veteran who has fought and beat some similar East Coast staples. Oropeza can strike as well, but his crowning jewel is his submission ability. Once he grounds Moraza-Pollard, he should be able to outwork him and tire him out, before snagging a submission win.

LHW: Jason Lambert (26-12) vs. Tom DeBlass (8-2)

A pair of UFC veterans will square off in the light heavyweight division looking for a future tournament berth when Ricardo Almeida disciple Tom DeBlass meets Jason Lambert. DeBlass is a high-level grappler with good submissions and ground-and-pound. He is an East Coast fight veteran whose only two losses came in the UFC against Cyrille Diabate and Riki Fukuda. He will want to ground Lambert, who has dynamite in his fists and a heavy top game. DeBlass has been successful at middleweight, so he will give up some size on Lambert. This will be a close bout, but Lambert should do enough to put away the New Jersey native.

LHW: Liam McGeary (5-0) vs. Najim Wali (0-0)

The UK’s Liam McGeary looks to continue his roughshod invasion of the United States in Bellator when he welcomes pro debutant Najim Wali to the cage. Not much is known about Wali, other than the fact that he is going to have to overcome the size of McGeary, who stands at 6-foot-6. McGeary is a buzzsaw that has been immensely impressive in his two Bellator bouts. The power striker ran through Anton Talamantes and Beau Tribolet in a combined time of less than two minutes. Look for him to continue that domination, as he knocks out Wali early.

BW: Sergio da Silva (1-4) vs. Robert Sullivan (2-1)

Flyweight Sergio da Silva steps up a weight class here to take on Baltimore’s Robert Sullivan. Despite his poor record, da Silva has stepped in the ring with Alp Ozkilic and Aljamain Sterling, both of whom are top fighters in their respective weight classes. Sullivan and da Silva are jiu-jitsu fighters, which will either lead to an interesting grappling battle or a sloppy stand-up war. Da Silva has faced higher-level guys and should show more experience in the cage, overcoming a size disadvantage to outwork Sullivan.

FW: Ryan Cafaro (0-0) vs. Dan Matala (0-0)

Philadelphia’s Dan Matela meets New Jersey’s Ryan Cafaro in a clash of two featherweights making their pro debuts. Matela went 5-2 as an amateur, showing off a grinding style and a solid ground game. Cafero was also 5-2 as an amateur, showing off a strong guillotine choke and good striking. Cafero hasn’t lost since his second amateur bout and has shown to be a more well-rounded combatant than Matala. He should notch a victory in his pro bout.

LW: Kenny Foster (10-7) vs. Anthony Morrison (17-10)

Longtime Bellator vet Kenny Foster makes his return to the cage looking to reverse a recent hard-luck streak. He takes on WEC vet Anthony Morrison. Foster is a wrestler with decent submission ability, but he has lost five out of his last six. This is his eighth Bellator appearance, but he has a record of just 3-5 with the company, spanning both tournament and feature bouts. Morrison hasn’t fought in over a year, but the powerful striker and wrestler has defeated the likes of UFC vets Jeff Lentz and Alvin Robinson. Morrison has stopping power with his strikes and should be able to ground-and-pound Foster into a stoppage victory here.

Photo: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.