Bellator is set to return on March 7 to continue its 10th season. Live from Oklahoma, the card boasts a lineup that includes a bantamweight title bout and the quarterfinals of the heavyweight tournament.

In a defense of his Bellator bantamweight championship, Eduardo Dantas headlines opposite Anthony Leone. Dantas was originally slated to meet Rafael Silva, but an injury forced Silva from the bout, thus opening the door for Leone.

In the co-headliner, Lavar Johnson looks to make a run in the heavyweight tournament, but he must first get by Ryan Martinez.

Without further ado, let’s preview the Bellator 111 card and make some predictions.

BW Championship: Eduardo Dantas (15-3) vs. Anthony Leone (13-6)

The bantamweight championship will be on the line when 135-pound phenom and titleholder Eduardo Dantas takes on Anthony Leone. Leone steps in for Rafael Silva on short notice to save this title bout.

Leone is a wrestler with a good submission skill set. He is a member of the Team Bombsquad camp in New York, where he gets a solid training camp from fight to fight. He dropped a decision to Silva in his last fight, which is why he took Silva’s spot in this title bout. He owns wins over Zach Makovsky, Dustin Pague and Frank Baca, showing that he has the ability to beat top-notch fighters.

Dantas is a well-rounded fighter representing the prestigious Nova Uniao camp. Other than a non-Bellator loss to Tyson Nam, Dantas has been almost flawless in the last few years. He has knockout power and a good submission base, making him a danger to any fighter who steps in the cage with him.

Leone needs to get this fight down immediately. Dantas is easily the better striker and can get Leone down himself. However, the ground is no picnic with Dantas, so Leone doesn’t have a lot of options other than grinding out a win here. Dantas should defend his title and meet Joe Warren later on this season, assuming he does not suffer any significant injuries.

HW Tournament Quarterfinal: Lavar Johnson (17-8) vs. Ryan Martinez (10-3)

UFC and Bellator tournament veteran Lavar Johnson returns to the cage in the latest edition of Bellator’s heavyweight tournament. In his way is fellow tourney vet Ryan Martinez, who looks to play the part of spoiler in this bout.

Johnson is a striker with immense physical strength and an aggressive style. Of his 17 wins, 15 have come by way of knockout, a crazy number given the level of talent he has faced. However, he is on a three-fight skid, including a knockout loss in the last heavyweight tournament to Vinicius Queiroz. That loss came in 23 seconds.

Despite his demonstrated toughness, Martinez is always the dark horse in any fight he’s in. He has good wrestling, but has shown that he has good power on the feet as well. His striking defense is going to need to be tight here, as Johnson throws haymaker after haymaker on the feet.

Martinez needs to get this fight down, but risks walking into Johnson’s wheelhouse. Johnson is diverse and can make opponents loopy even from a grazing shot. Look for Johnson to score a knockout and erase the memory of that last loss to Queiroz.

HW Tournament Quarterfinal: Alexander Volkov (19-4) vs. Mark Holata (12-4)

Former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov is intent on regaining his title. His road starts in this season’s tournament, where he takes on tourney vet Mark Holata in the quarterfinal round.

Volkov is a young, 6-foot-7 Russian with great striking and range. His resume speaks for itself—he owns wins over the likes of Brett Rogers, Ricco Rodriguez and Vinicius Queiroz. He lost his title in his latest outing, where he was outclassed by fellow Russian Vitaly Minakov. Volkov, who is much longer and quicker than his foe, will need to stay on the outside against Holata.

Holata, a native of Oklahoma, fights on his home turf here in the first fight of his third Bellator tournament. He has solid grappling and striking skills, but he lacks a significant advantage over Volkov in any area. Most of Holata’s losses have come via knockout, which could spell trouble when he enters the cage opposite Volkov.

Volkov has knockout power, and Holata has shown a questionable chin. If Holata can get Volkov down, he has a better chance of winning. However, the Russian should consistently tag Holata and score a knockout victory.

HW Tournament Quarterfinal: Peter Graham (9-6) vs. Mighty Mo (5-2)

A striker’s delight is afoot when pro kickboxers turned MMA fighters Peter Graham and Mighty Mo meet in the Bellator cage. Both men have immense power on the feet and their chins are made of granite.

Graham is an Australian banger who has won all of his fights, except one, by knockout. His grappling skills are his detriment, though he will be fighting a guy who is also not known for his mat prowess. Graham outstruck Eric Prindle in his Bellator premiere, but was thrown into a heavyweight tournament finale on late notice against Cheick Kongo, who easily defeated Graham.

Mo is 2-0 since entering Bellator. The striker has shown two completely different performances in his short time. He blew through Dan Charles on the feet in his debut, scoring the knockout in the third round. He then fought Ron Sparks and tapped him out with a keylock, which shocked all of the fans.

This fight should be contested on the feet and should be an awesome kickboxing bout. Both men can take a shot and hand one out. Graham is the better striker, though, and should have more techniques to use in his arsenal. That will lead to a fun decision win for the Aussie.

Preliminary Card
HW Tournament Quarterfinal: Blagoi Ivanov (9-0) vs. Rich Hale (21-6-1)

A spot in the heavyweight tournament semifinals is up for grabs when Bulgarian brute Blagoi Ivanov takes on former two-division Bellator tournament finalist Rich Hale. Ivanov is a sambo practitioner who is making a career comeback from a stabbing that almost claimed his life not long ago. All but one of his wins are finishes. Ivanov is well-rounded and tough as nails. Hale, who has fought at light heavyweight in the past, is a striker who has shown he can be successful at heavyweight. That being said, Ivanov is too tough and too physical to fail here.

MW: Cortez Coleman (9-5) vs. Daniel Miller (4-2)

TUF veteran and Oklahoma native Cortez Coleman looks to get back into the win column in the middleweight division when he takes on six-fight vet Daniel Miller. Miller is a submission fighter and has claimed two wins via his tight guillotine choke. Coleman is a wrestler who has severe ground-and-pound and a tight guillotine choke of his own. Coleman is too strong and has too many tools. He will finish Miller.

HW: Javy Ayala (6-3) vs. Eric Prindle (8-4)

When former Bellator finalist Eric Prindle takes on Javy Ayala, the two men could be vying for a possible heavyweight tournament spot in a future Bellator season. Prindle is a boxer who has good power in his hands, but he has lost three of his last four. He was outstruck in his last bout against Peter Graham, who is a top kickboxer in the division. Ayala avoided being a human sacrifice in his last bout with Bellator. He upset Thiago Santos via TKO. Prindle is a tough customer, especially early on. He should use his hands to get a stoppage in this bout.

Catchweight (190 pounds): Matt Jones (4-6) vs. Emiliano Sordi (12-4)

Argentinian Emiliano Sordi looks to make a good first impression with Bellator, but in the way of a successful debut stands Bellator vet Matt Jones. This looks to be a showcase fight for Sordi, as Jones will play much the same role as when he fought Linton Vassell in Vassell’s Bellator debut. Sordi is a good striker and already has big-fight experience from having thrown down in Jungle Fights. Jones has little chance, as Sordi will blast him on the feet en route to victory.

LW: Brent Primus (4-0) vs. Chris Jones (8-2)

Mohler MMA product Chris Jones takes on grappling specialist Brent Primus in a battle of two lightweight prospects who are looking to inch their way up the ladder. Primus is a jiu-jitsu fighter with great submission ability, so Jones would be wise to keep this fight on the feet. Primus has won all of his pro fights via first-round rear-naked choke, and he is 2-0 with Bellator thus far. That type of track record evokes great confidence. Primus will score another submission win.

FW: Treston Thomison (7-1) vs. Stephen Banaszak (2-1)

Treston Thomison looks to defend his home state against Texas native Stephen Banaszak in a clash of once-beaten featherweights. Thomison is a submission fighter who has fought most of his career with King of the Cage. His experience and prowess on the ground should be a test for Banaszak, who is coming off his only career loss, which was by submission. Experience is the big x-factor, and Thomison has it. He will score the win here.

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.