Last night, Bellator 62 live from Laredo, Texas saw the advancement of a quartet of top lightweights to the Bellator tournament semifinals.

Thiago Michel put on one of the best rounds of MMA action for the Bellator crowd against Rene Nazare en route to a split-decision victory, Brent Weedman secured his own wicked submission win over J.J. Ambrose via Von Flue choke, Rick Hawn made short work of Ricardo Tirloni, and in what was arguably one of the best fights of the season, Lloyd Woodard submitted Patricky Freire in the second round of the main event of the evening.

Every weekend, The MMA Corner will give you an exclusive viewpoint and prediction of the semifinals and finals of every Bellator tournament, as well as a preview and prediction for what lies ahead for that division’s current world championship titleholder.

This week, we delve into the scheduled lightweight semifinal contests in the Bellator season-six lightweight tournament, and we offer a prediction not only about who will challenge Michael Chandler for his title, but we also let you know here first about who will prevail in that fight—provided our guy makes it to the final of this season’s tournament!

Will we get this one right?

Find out in this week’s edition of your Bellator predictions fix, as it’s time once again for The Last-Minute Finish exclusively on The MMA Corner!

Semifinal: Thiago Michel vs. Rick Hawn

Thiago Michel fought for three hard rounds against Rene Nazare and won a split decision, but if ever there was a story that could have come from the fight Michel and Nazare put on last night, it was the striking of Michel.

Even though Nazare tried to grind out Michel against the fence and Nazare ended all three rounds with takedowns, the consensus is that it was too little, too late. The takedown attempts appeared to be out of desperation after getting rattled by Michel’s striking game.

Next up for Michel is Brent Weedman, who dropped J.J. Ambrose early in the opening round, got taken down, survived a couple of submission attempts, and kept Ambrose in one of the meanest body triangles in recent memory before executing the very-rarely seen Von Flue choke at 3:26 of the second round.

Of course, if Weedman takes Michel down early, he’s got the best chance to beat Michel, as he will have enough time to do what Nazare did not have enough time to do in working his grappling game on the ground.

However, Michel will be expecting Weedman to do that, especially after what Nazare showed last night in the takedown department despite not getting much—if any—of his takedowns off. The end result will be another striking clinic that ends Weedman’s run in this season’s lightweight tournament before the fight ever hits the third round.

Prediction: Thiago Michel def. Brent Weedman in Round 2 by TKO (strikes)

Semifinal: Rick Hawn vs. Lloyd Woodard

Rick Hawn, the former Judo Olympian, had the crowd in Laredo and all of Twitter going nuts with a TKO win over Ricardo Tirloni in the first round.

Hawn’s performance was pleasing to fans who wanted to see what he could do at 155 pounds, and even without ever working his Judo game, Hawn lived up to the challenge Tirloni presented and overcame it convincingly.

Next up for Hawn is Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard, who persevered through arguably the best first round and fight of this season so far by dislocating the left arm of Patricky “Pitbull” Freire the second round.

Woodard went up against one of the early favorites to win the whole thing in Freire, and with his victory over the older “Pitbull” brother, he becomes the favorite himself. He will have to re-emphasize against Hawn, whose takedowns are strong enough to give any fighter trouble,.

On paper, the 5-foot-9 Hawn is the quicker fighter of the two and he’s the more technical, due to his boxing game. Woodard is dead-set on getting the rematch he desperately seeks against current champ Michael Chandler. If he shows the same grit and determination he showed against Freire, he’ll not only weather the storm, but he’ll also give Hawn a more difficult fight than Hawn faced against Tirloni.

Prediction: Lloyd Woodard def. Rick Hawn by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Final: Lloyd Woodard vs. Thiago Michel

Lloyd Woodard, as we’ve said earlier, has a determination about him this season that could propel him all the way to the title shot against Chandler, but Thiago Michel will stand in his way.

Will his striking present the same problems that many thought Freire’s would?

Absolutely—Michel’s striking is a wild-fire that very few know how to avoid, and recent history will show that it takes a strong submission game to put Michel in any danger. Woodard is relentless enough to do just that.

In short, this is going to being one of those types of fights in which there is an obvious winner, but the action will be hot and heavy throughout. Expect a thriller from start to finish.

Unless Michel comes out programmed to terminate Woodard on sight, it will be “Cupcake” that frosts up this sweet-treat of a tournament and fulfills his sweet-tooth with the tournament crown and the rematch with Chandler.

Prediction: Lloyd Woodard def. Thiago Michel by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)

Superfight: Michael Chandler vs. Akihiro Gono

There’s not a whole lot of wisdom to shed on this fight, as we all know Chandler is coming off of one of Bellator’s greatest all-time bouts against Eddie Alvarez, whereas Akihiro Gono is coming off of a two-fight losing streak to face the Bellator champ.

Chandler owns wins over Marcin Held, Lloyd Woodard, and Patricky Freire, in addition to the win over Alvarez, and while Gono has a strong experience edge and an always-creative offense, he’s never faced a fighter that brings fights the way the undefeated Chandler does.

Very seldom will I ever think a fight is going to end quick, but a fighter of Chandler’s caliber knows he needs to keep his game at a high-level to keep his title. Look for Chandler to exploit the hole in Gono’s takedown defense before going in for the kill.

Prediction: Michael Chandler def. Akihiro Gono in Round 1 by TKO (strikes)

Bellator Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler vs. Lloyd Woodard

Interestingly enough, both men pack aggressive styles, like to come forward and come in with the intention of breaking their opponents mentally as well as physically. Chandler and Woodard are familiar with what the other can do, and they can thank their Bellator 40 collision for that.

Chandler maintained control for the first round, but Woodard’s aggressiveness kicked in and took the second round over, tying it up before Chandler took Woodard down at will in the third and controlled the action with his wrestling.

If Woodard wins it all and gets his rematch with Chandler, the difference between what Chandler was able to accomplish the first time against Woodard and what Chandler will be able to accomplish this time against Woodard is going to be a total of 10 minutes.

Woodard will not break before the fight hits the championship rounds, but after a grueling fourth round, Woodard will look as though he’s running on fumes. At that moment, Chandler will do what he excels at, which is maintaining his insane pace and implementing the Gil Martinez-brand of boxing taught at Xtreme Couture to finish the fight.

“Project Chandler” looks like it could shake the game up and cause many a lightweight to rethink the way they come into fights. He will start first with Gono before breaking “Cupcake” down to a digestible size.

Prediction: Michael Chandler def. Lloyd Woodard in Round 5 by TKO (Punches)

Photo: Lloyd Woodard (R) with a knee to the body of Michael Chandler (L).  (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.