Bellator MMA is set to return on March 21 to continue its 10th season. Live from Kansas, the card boasts a lineup that includes a light heavyweight title bout and the quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament.

Champion Attila Vegh and interim champ Emanuel Newton are set to unify their belts in a rematch of their Bellator 72 bout. That first showdown between the two men saw Vegh take a controversial decision, which paved the way for him to fight for—and win—the title.

In the co-headliner, Patricky Freire meets David Rickels in the lightweight tournament in an attempt to make a run at the title. It is a tournament that hosts many notable names, including Freire, Rickels, Marcin Held and Derek Campos .

Without further ado, let’s preview the Bellator 113 card and make some predictions.

LHW Championship: Attila Vegh (29-4-2) vs. Emanuel Newton (22-7-1)

The rematch is set. Light heavyweight champ Attila Vegh takes on interim champ Emanuel Newton in a rematch from earlier in their careers, when Vegh beat Newton in a tournament semifinal in 2012.

Vegh is a striker, but he is small for the light heavyweight class. He is riding a nine-fight surge right now, which includes his title win over Christian M’Pumbu, as well as victories against Travis Wiuff, Dan Spohn and Newton. He arguably lost his last fight with Newton.

Newton is a striker as well, though he rounds out his game well with a good wrestling base. He sets a good pace in his fights and has been especially impressive as of late. In his current winning streak, he has beat Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal twice, and he topped Mikhail Zayats via a convincing decision. One has to believe Newton is the favorite in this fight.

This time around, Newton is riding a wave of momentum after beating golden boy Lawal. Vegh can hang on the feet, but if Newton mixes in takedowns, he should take this fight easily. He will either finish Vegh late or grind him for a convincing decision win.

LW Tournament Quarterfinal: David Rickels (15-2) vs. Patricky Freire (11-5)

The co-main event features two tournament favorites. Brazilian tourney vet Patricky Freire meets David Rickels, another former tournament winner.

Rickels is a brawler that will be fighting in front of his home crowd. He is known to get into wild slugfests where he uses his granite chin and relentless pace to outwork fighters. He may want to use a clinch approach with Freire. In the clinch, Rickels can use his strength to push Freire against the fence and negate his power game.

Freire is a jiu-jitsu fighter who has been using his striking lately, just like his brother, Patricio. Patricky recently snapped a three-fight skid against Edson Berto. He will need to stay on the outside of Rickels and throw the power hooks for which he is known. If he lands, he has the power to knock out Rickels.

At this point, it’s hard to trust Freire’s consistency. Against lower levels of competition, he has thrived. When he has taken on tougher opposition, he has struggled. For that reason, Rickels is a safe bet to go with here, especially because he can grind opponents when he wants.

LW Tournament Quarterfinal: Marcin Held (16-3) vs. Rodrigo Cavalheiro (14-2)

Polish prodigy Marcin Held makes another appearance in the Bellator lightweight tournament when he takes on Brazilian newcomer Rodrigo Cavalheiro. This match-up pits a grappler against a striker, which should make for an interesting chess match.

Cavalheiro is a Muay Thai striker with one-punch knockout power. However, he has been fighting on the Brazilian circuit against guys not on par with the competition Held has faced. Cavalheiro will need to use his kicks and size to overwhelm Held, who has solid hands. The best course of action for the Brazilian to take is to light up Held from the clinch and from the outside.

Held is a nasty submission fighter known for his brutal leg locks. His most recent performance saw him blow through Ryan Healy. With that performance, Held is showing signs that he’s really starting to live up to his potential. If he can get Cavalheiro down, there is a good chance he can tap him like Ivan Jorge did a couple years ago.

It will be really interesting to see how this fight goes. The Brazilian needs to get going early with leg kicks so he can take away Held’s wrestling base. If Cavalheiro does that, then Held will have all sorts of trouble getting him to the ground. However, Held is aggressive and can put Cavalheiro down, and Held will do just that en route to a decision.

LW Tournament Quarterfinal: Tim Welch (10-4) vs. Derek Campos (13-3)

Tim Welch steps into the lightweight tournament on late notice and takes on a tough out in Derek Campos. The winner moves on to the semifinals and moves one step closer to earning a title shot.

This is the second tournament for Welch. The first appearance saw him lose in the quarterfinals to Michail Tsarev. Welch is a striker who has developed some good submission skills in the process. He is a brawler on the feet, though that also leaves him susceptible to takedowns and bad positions on the mat.

Campos is a wrestler with good physical strength and the style to defeat a guy like Welch. He is a dark horse in this tournament, already holding a victory over tournament participant Brandon Girtz. Campos is a tough match-up for most men in this tournament because of his wrestling, which combines well with his submission prowess.

Welch has a puncher’s chance of winning this fight. That being said, Campos is too hard-nosed and smart to let himself fall into a slugfest with Welch. Expect Campos to ground Welch, pound on his head and jump on a submission when given the opportunity.

Preliminary Card
LW Tournament Quarterfinal: Derek Anderson (10-0) vs. Brandon Girtz (10-3)

In a bout which decides who advances to the lightweight semifinals, undefeated prospect Derek Anderson takes on powerhouse Brandon Girtz. Girtz is a mountain of a man who possesses great wrestling and underrated submission skills. He won two Bellator fights in October, defeating Poppies Martinez and Mike Estus, each by armbar. He takes on another good submission fighter in Anderson, who is coming off the biggest win of his career against Patricky Freire. This is going to be a close, fun fight, but when it’s all said and done, Anderson should be able to outwork Girtz on the feet and avoid his takedowns for a decision.

LW: Marcio Navarro (9-10) vs. Bobby Cooper (8-3)

Titan FC and RFA veteran Bobby Cooper comes to Bellator on a three-fight surge as he seeks to take out sub-.500 fighter Marcio Navarro. Cooper is a grinder who prefers to take his opponents down and punish them there. Navarro has struggled to get wins in his MMA career, and he has especially struggled when stepping up in competition. Cooper will shoot for takedowns for most of the fight and continually plant Navarro on the canvas. Cooper will win this fight with ease.

BW: LC Davis (20-6) vs. Tory Bogguess (10-7)

WEC vet and respected bantamweight LC Davis gets his start with Bellator. In his way of a successful debut, however, is Tory Bogguess, a midwest MMA staple. Davis is a power wrestler with powerful ground strikes and good athleticism. He will rely heavily on the takedown, especially against Bogguess, who has been tapped and worked on the ground before. This is an appetizer for Davis, who is bound for bigger things. He should finish Bogguess and earn a future tournament berth.

MW: Brian Rogers (10-6) vs. Gary Tapusoa (8-2)

Multiple-time tournament vet Brian Rogers is looking to get back into next season’s bracket, but first he must meet a dangerous veteran in Gary Tapusoa. Rogers is a nasty striker who relies on his stand-up to punish opponents. He will need to use all of his power against Tapusoa, who is a savage on the feet as well. This fight will be closely contested on the feet. Rogers, with his experience against tougher opponents, will ultimately prevail.

HW: Maurice Jackson (2-1) vs. Daniel Gallemore (2-2)

A pair of inexperienced heavyweights are due to fight when .500 fighter Daniel Gallemore takes on Maurice Jackson. Jackson actually has more no-contests than he has wins, which is an interesting stat to note. He is an imposing 6-foot-9 and has only fought once since 2010. Gallemore is a big, powerful man as well, so we should have a quick fight. Jackson’s size and experience against guys like Chase Gormley and Kyle Kingsbury makes him the favorite to take this fight via knockout.

FW: Israel Giron (17-3) vs. Cody Carrillo (5-7)

Prospect and 20-fight veteran Israel Giron comes north of the border to fight for Bellator for the first time since 2009. He takes on struggling featherweight Cody Carrillo. Giron is a Renzo Gracie disciple who does his best work on the mat. Of his 17 wins, 13 have come via tapout from various holds. Carrillo is a striker who has been submitted numerous times, making him a bad match-up for Giron. Expect Mexico’s Giron to tap Carrillo out quickly.

LW: Eric Wisely (21-8) vs. Donnie Bell (8-2)

Donnie Bell takes on late replacement duties in response to Tim Welch grabbing a tournament spot. Bells steps in for Welch and faces UFC veteran Eric Wisely. Bell has shown to be a good submission fighter in his career, having put away six of his foes via tapout. When he grabs a neck, he usually does not let go. However, Wisely is a well-traveled vet with good punching power and a lot more experience. It will be a tough fight, but Wisely should prevail via decision.

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.