Bellator MMA is set to continue its ninth season on Nov. 2 with Bellator 106. Live from California, the card boasts a deep lineup that includes three title fights in the lightweight, featherweight and light heavyweight division.

Michael Chandler headlines opposite Eddie Alvarez in an anticipated rematch where the winner takes home the lightweight championship. This took the headlining spot in the aftermath of Tito Ortiz’s neck injury, which got him pulled from the main slot opposite of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and also resulted in the change of this card from a pay-per-view to a free offering on Spike TV.

Without further ado, let’s preview the Bellator 106 card and make some predictions.

LW Championship: Michael Chandler (12-0) vs. Eddie Alvarez (24-3)

In the biggest rematch in Bellator history, champion Michael Chandler looks to rebuke the planned revenge that Eddie Alvarez has on his mind. The first fight, in which Chandler choked out the heavily favored Alvarez, was the best contest in Bellator history and sparked Chandler’s stardom.

Chandler came into this sport as a one-dimensional wrestler, but has developed into a dangerous all-around fighter. Not only is he dangerous when fishing for the takedown, but he now can break through opponents’ chins with his extremely heavy hands. His last fight saw him quickly demolish David Rickels with that striking. However, Chandler is still a wrestling threat, as seen in his submission of Rick Hawn.

Alvarez is a good wrestler too, but he likes staying on the feet for his fights. Since losing to Chandler, he has run through his competition. He destroyed Shinya Aoki in under a round, before kicking Patricky Freire’s head into the third row. One has to believe that, despite being similarly well-rounded, Alvarez would rather bang with Chandler than get into a wrestling contest with him.

This rematch is going to be very unpredictable. Both men can throw heavy leather and grapple with the best of them. However, the x-factor may be in how long Alvarez has been away from the cage. Chandler is the future of the lightweight division, but I have a hunch that Alvarez is coming into this fight fired up from the legal procedures that hampered his career for over a year. This will again be a great fight, and Alvarez will score a close decision.

FW Championship: Pat Curran (19-4) vs. Daniel Straus (21-4)

To keep the rematch theme going with this card, featherweight counterparts Pat Curran and Daniel Straus meet for Curran’s featherweight strap. Curran won their first fight back in 2009 when he viciously knocked Straus out.

Curran has been on a tear since dropping to featherweight, going 6-0 with Bellator. He earned a title shot against Joe Warren with a Summer Series tournament run that saw him tap out Luis Palomino, decision Ronnie Mann and knock out Marlon Sandro. Then, after taking the title off Warren via brutal knockout, he defended it twice over the likes of Patricio Freire and Shahbulat Shamhalaev. Curran is extremely well-rounded, possessing top-notch boxing, wrestling and submissions.

Straus is a little more one-dimensional than Curran, but is nevertheless good. His wrestling, cardio and toughness cannot come into question, and he has used those attributes to attain this title shot. He defeated Jeremy Spoon, Mike Corey and Sandro en route to this title shot, outworking each man for 15 minutes en route to a decision. Most of his wins come via decision, but he struggles to win those decisions when he cannot get the takedown.

Curran has great takedown defense and submission ability. Straus will need to take caution when shooting, as it could result in a sprawl-and-brawl retaliation that gets him clipped. Curran’s hands and movement on the feet will counter the quickness and athleticism of Straus, making Curran difficult to take down. Curran will outstrike and outwork Straus to a convincing decision, therefore keeping the champ in the top 10.

LHW Interim Championship: Emanuel Newton (21-7-1) vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (11-2)

In a rematch that had some pointing to the shady circumstances surrounding it, Emanuel Newton and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal will fight for the interim light heavyweight title. The winner gets a fight with champion Attila Vegh down the road to unify the belts.

Lawal is a power wrestler who has worked on his boxing with the Mayweathers. That was evident in his recent fight with Przemyslaw Mysiala, where he technically outstruck the Pole before blasting him with the kill punch. However, King Mo has resorted to his wrestling in recent times, using ground-and-pound to finish Seth Petruzelli and Jacob Noe. He may want to use that wrestling this time around when he takes on Newton, who knocked him out with a spinning back fist in their first encounter.

Newton also has good wrestling, though it is not on the same level as that of Lawal. However, it must be noted that Newton is a good striker, which is what led to his first victory over King Mo. Most of his wins, though, have come via submission. He presses his opponents against the cage, achieves the takedown and taps his foes out. He has done exactly that in Bellator against the likes of Roy Boughton and Atanas Djambazov.

If this is a pure striking match, it will be close. Lawal got caught by that spinning back fist, but was engaged in a competitive striking bout prior to Newton’s fight-ending blow. If Lawal is wise, he is going to shoot for the takedown early and often. If he gets Newton on his back, he will be able to ground-and-pound him to oblivion. He should get a decision after dominating with said wrestling, effectively setting a date to fight Vegh.

FW: Mike Richman (15-3) vs. Akop Stepanyan (13-6)

Bellator featherweight tournament veterans are set to collide when Russian striker Akop Stepanyan meets American Marine Mike Richman. Both men have seen success in Bellator and, with a win, could find themselves in next season’s tournament.

Richman is a power striker who has been a solid addition to Bellator’s featherweight roster. He owns highlight-reel knockouts over Chris Horodecki, Jeremy Spoon and Mitch Jackson, and made it to a tournament final. There, in his most recent bout, he dropped a unanimous decision to Magomedrasul Khasbulaev. He is not just a great striker, though. He has a solid submission base, which he picked up early in his career while in the American military.

Stepanyan has been impressive, but is just 1-3 with Bellator thus far. He has wicked leg kicks and heavy hands, a combination that has seen him knock out seven of his adversaries. His bugaboo, as seen in losses to Wagnney Fabiano and Justin Wilcox, has been wrestling defense and submission defense, which will be a concern when fighting Richman.

If this is a striking battle, it will be fun and will not last for long. Stepanyan and Richman throw heavy leather, which could create the perfect brew for the “Fight of the Night.” However, Richman is smart and knows that Stepanyan is weak when planted on his back. Look for Richman to set up clinch work and takedowns. From there, he will overwhelm the Russian and earn a late tap or take the decision.

Fight Master WW Final: Joe Riggs (39-14) vs. Mike Bronzoulis (15-5-1)

The Fight Master reality series competition is about to come to a close with the long-awaited finale bout. Longtime MMA veteran Joe Riggs looks to continue his career revitalization when he takes on powerful brawler Mike Bronzoulis.

Riggs is noted for his up-and-down career and his outside-the-cage troubles, but it looked like he was focused and re-energized on the show. Riggs is very well-rounded, but his ground game was on high display on Fight Master. He tapped out Rob Mills to get into the house, then dominated in decisions over Eric Scallan, Evan Cutts and Cole Williams. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak that includes victories over Cris Leyva and Shannon Ritch.

Bronzoulis is a knockout artist with solid takedown defense, as showcased on Fight Master. He decisioned Gareth Joseph to get into the house, then ran roughshod over his competition. He decisioned Chris Lozano, and followed up by knocking out Jason Norwood and Eric Bradley. His brawling style is very aesthetically pleasing and violent, leading to 10 career knockouts in his pro career.

This is a very interesting fight. Riggs has great takedowns, a suffocating top game and a solid chin. Bronzoulis has demonstrated good defense in addition to his incredible knockout power. Riggs has to get inside on Bronzoulis to get him down. “The Greek” is good in the clinch as well, though, so look for him to tap the chin of “Diesel” and win the finale via knockout.

Preliminary Card

LW: Mike Guymon (14-6-1) vs. Aaron Miller (14-8)

UFC veteran Mike Guymon returns to Bellator for the first time since January when he takes on fellow Bellator vet Aaron Miller. Miller is a wrestler who has won most of his fights via decision. We last saw him defeat Shad Smith in a grinding affair, though it must be noted that his weakness is submission defense. Guymon is also susceptible to submissions, but has great offensive subs. If Guymon gets top position on Miller, he will be in good shape. He could end up taking this bout by late submission or a decision.

LHW: Brandon Halsey (4-0) vs. Hector Ramirez (10-5-1)

Two-time Bellator vet Brandon Halsey makes his anticipated return to the promotion when he takes on UFC veteran Hector Ramirez. Halsey has good takedowns and submission skills, two attributes he will want to utilize against Ramirez. This is a big step up in competition for Halsey, who struggled against Joe Yager in his last outing. Ramirez is a good striker that showed some improved wrestling in his last fight against Savo Kosic. Although Halsey is a solid prospect, his cardio is going to be tested, as is his striking. Ramirez will take a decision here, albeit a close one.

WW: Joe Williams (9-1) vs. Jesse Juarez (20-8)

A pair of potential welterweight tournament competitors are set to square off when Fight Master veteran Joe Williams takes on Antonio McKee disciple Jesse Juarez. Williams is a wrestler that has rounded off his game nicely and added some good strikes. He owns notable wins over UFC vets Eddie Mendez and Jamie Yager in which he used his impressive ground-and-pound skills. Juarez is a grinder who has shown some chinks in his armor in the form of a lackluster submission defense. Juarez doesn’t have the deepest gas tank and Williams can tire him out with takedowns. That’s exactly what will happen as Williams earns a decision.

LW: Josh Smith (8-5) vs. Darren Smith (4-3)

A pair of Smiths are set to meet in the lightweight division when Californians Josh Smith and Darren Smith collide in the Bellator cage. Darren is a grinder who looks to put his opponents in deep water. All four of his wins have come via decision, so don’t expect him to go wild looking for a finish. Josh is pretty well-rounded, though it’s his jiu-jitsu that fans and foes should look out for. He should look to put Darren on his back and fish for the submission, effectively taking his Bellator debut.

FW: Cleber Luciano (8-5) vs. Joe Camacho (13-18-3)

A pair of middling featherweights are set to square off when Californians Cleber Luciano and Joe Camacho meet. Camacho is in his 40s and has struggled in recent times, going 2-6 in his last eight fights. He is durable, and most of his wins come via knockout. Luciano is a grappler whose weakness comes in his stand-up game. Most of his wins came via submission on the ground, which is where he should look to put Camacho in this fight. Once he plants Camacho on the mat, Luciano will coax a tapout from his opponent.

Photo: Eddie Alvarez (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.