Bellator MMA is set to return on March 14 to continue its 10th season. Live from Indiana, the card boasts a lineup that includes a featherweight title bout and the quarterfinals of the welterweight tournament.

In a defense of his Bellator featherweight championship, Daniel Straus headlines opposite Pat Curran. It is the first title defense for Straus, who won the belt last season with a decision over Curran. This bout marks their rubber match.

In the co-headliner, Andrey Koreshkov switches opponents on late notice in the 170-pound tournament to take on UFC vet Nah-Shon Burrell. It is a tournament that had many late changes due to injury, including the losses of War Machine, Mark Scanlon and Joe Riggs.

Without further ado, let’s preview the Bellator 112 card and make some predictions.

FW Championship: Daniel Straus (22-4) vs. Pat Curran (19-5)

The rubber match is set and the belt is on the line when former long-time Bellator champ Pat Curran looks to regain his gold against Daniel Straus. Curran took their first bout in the XFO, and Straus won the important second bout for Bellator gold.

Straus is a grinder with great strength and quickness. His wrestling is the centerpiece of his game. He uses his hands and kicks to get guys against the cage and on the ground. That’s exactly what he did in the last bout with Curran en route to completely dominating the former champ with cardio, grit and skill.

Curran is a better striker, though he needs to tighten up his takedown defense if he wants to be successful here. Curran has knockout power and good wrestling of his own, though he will need to try and stay away from a wrestling match with Straus. He needs to take a stick and move approach, as getting into a brawl may lead to a repeat of their last performance.

Curran just had an off night in his latest encounter with Straus. He will stay on the outside, which may elicit some boos, but he will land enough to keep Straus at bay. It will be a long five rounds, but Curran will earn back his belt.

WW Tournament Quarterfinal: Andrey Koreshkov (14-1) vs. Nah-Shon Burrell (10-3)

The co-main event sees UFC veteran Nah-Shon Burrell take on former tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov. Both men earned late opponent switches, with Burrell originally slated to meet War Machine and Koreshkov originally set to fight Jesse Juarez.

Burrell is a boxer. After going 3-1 with Strikeforce, he made a move to the UFC, where he went 1-1 before his release. He came to Bellator, where he made his debut with a win over Jesus Martinez. He is athletic, quick and has educated hands, all of which will be key against a power striker and beast like Koreshkov.

Koreshkov is also a striker. However, against Ben Askren, his total lack of takedown defense was apparent and he showed he can be bested by a wrestler. He is aggressive, moves forward and always looks for the finish. He owns Bellator knockouts of Tiawan Howard, Derrick Krantz and Marius Zaromskis.

If this is contested on the feet, it’s going to be very interesting. Burrell’s athleticism is key, though he has been bested by strikers like Chris Spang in the past. This is Koreshkov’s fight. He will finish Burrell in devastating fashion.

WW Tournament Quarterfinal: Sam Oropeza (10-2) vs. Cristiano Souza (7-0)

Fight Master vet Cristiano Souza takes a tournament spot on late notice for Joe Riggs and meets a tough Bellator vet in Sam Oropeza. These two Bellator vets finally get a shot to strut their stuff in the famous Bellator tournament system.

Souza is a grappler. On Fight Master, however, he showed he has power on the feet. He is not to be confused with a technical striker, though. He exerts a lot of energy looking for the early finish, which leads to suspect cardio. He has only gone to decision once, showing the type of fighter he is when it comes to fishing for a finish.

Oropeza is also finisher. All 10 of his wins have come by knockout or submission. With two submission losses on his record, Oropeza would be well advised to avoid a ground battle with Souza. He has taken on higher-level competition to mixed results. He should look to stick and move on the feet, where his technique is superior to that of Souza, though Oropeza may not generate as much raw power.

Souza is a brute, but he needs to pace himself. If he overextends himself, he will tire out or get picked apart by Oropeza’s distance striking. Once Souza wears out a bit, he will start getting tagged by Oropeza, who will get a stoppage and advance in the tourney.

WW Tournament Quarterfinal: Jesse Juarez (21-8) vs. Adam McDonough (9-0)

A pair of tournament newcomers square off in the next quarterfinal when Body Shop rep and Antonio McKee disciple Jesse Juarez takes on undefeated banger Adam McDonough. The winner is one step closer to earning a welterweight title shot.

Juarez is well-rounded, though his ground game has taken more precedence lately. He is strong like an ox and can get takedowns with ease. In his last four fights, he has beaten the likes of The Ultimate Fighter winner Robert Whittaker, tournament vet Jordan Smith and Fight Master vet Joe Williams. He is a dark horse in this tournament, though he has the talent to win the whole thing.

Despite being an intriguing talent with good all-around skills, McDonough may be the biggest underdog in the tournament. He has finished all but one of his fights, including a TKO win in his Bellator debut against Johnny Buck. If he can put Juarez on his back, he can find great success.

It will be a tightly contested bout featuring two men with similar styles. Experience is too hard to ignore, though. Juarez has faced tougher opponents in his career, and one has to believe he will take a decision over McDonough.

Preliminary Card
WW Tournament Quarterfinal: Nathan Coy (13-4) vs. Paul Bradley (21-5)

Strikeforce vets Nathan Coy and Paul Bradley square off with a spot in the semifinals on the line. This spot in the tournament comes as a result of multiple injuries. Both men were slated to fight in a non-tournament bout until two spots opened up in the tourney bracket. Coy and Bradley are considered wrestlers. Coy is definitely better on the feet. Bradley is relentless in the pursuit of the takedown, but Coy has good balance and hips to stay upright. It will be close, but Coy should do enough for a decision.

WW: A.J. Matthews (6-2) vs. Belal Muhammad (4-0)

Fight Master veteran A.J. Matthews returns to Bellator for the first time since 2012. In his way stands Belal Muhammad, an undefeated Indiana native. Muhammad is a striker, which will compliment nicely to Matthews’ style. Both men have knockout power, especially Matthews, who has ended most of his bouts via knockout. That will happen here, too, as Matthews downs Muhammad within 10 minutes.

FW: Darrion Caldwell (3-0) vs. Lance Surma (2-0)

Top featherweight prospect and wrestling machine Darrion Caldwell makes his anticipated Bellator debut. He takes on fellow undefeated fighter Lance Surma. Caldwell’s game plan is simple—he wrestles opponents to the ground and works his striking from there. Surma has a similar style, but he will find himself outwrestled and outmuscled by a superior athlete. Caldwell will take a decision.

LW: Derek Loffer (6-2) vs. Bobby Reardanz (8-12)

Journeyman Bobby Reardanz returns to Bellator for the first time since 2012, but in his way is lightweight prospect Derek Loffer. Loffer has solid hands and good ground-and-pound, something that has led to five of his six wins by knockout. Reardanz is a grappler that has suspect cardio and has been finished in most of his losses. This is Loffer’s fight to lose. He should pass the test here, earning a stoppage victory.

HW: Jason Guida (19-27) vs. Anthony Gomez (7-2)

A veteran of 40-plus fights and the brother of UFC fighter Clay Guida, Jason Guida fights for the first time since 2011 when he takes on Anthony Gomez, who normally competes as a light heavyweight. Guida has been very inconsistent in his career. In fact, he has lost 10 of his last 12, including fights against the likes of Mike Russow, Mamed Khalidov, Bobby Lashley, Jeremy Horn and Jeff Monson. Gomez has been a very tough fighter in his career. The well-rounded Chicago native has put away five opponents by knockout or submission. He should be able to finish Guida as well, possibly earning him a light heavyweight tournament spot somewhere down the road.

HW: Erick Correa (2-0) vs. Daniel James (0-0)

XFO vet Erick Correa and debuting pro fighter Daniel James, a pair of up-and-coming heavyweights, will meet with the intent of handing each other their first pro loss. Correa turned pro last year and has put on two solid performances. His wrestling is the key to his success. He uses his hands to ground guys and pound them. James is a big heavyweight who has to cut to make the limit. He is heavy-handed, and his only amateur bout came to an end in just over a minute from big strikes. Correa’s experience and training with Team Curran is something to like here. He takes a decision.

BW: Diego Marlon (24-8) vs. Lloyd Carter (5-5)

Brazilian Diego Marlon makes his Bellator debut against late-replacement fighter Lloyd Carter. Marlon is a grappler with nasty choke holds and great physical strength. Carter, who steps in for Rob Menigoz, has experienced most of his losses by submission, meaning this is a pretty cut-and-dried analysis. Marlon will drag Carter down quickly and force him to tap.

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.