Bellator MMA is back in action Friday, February 13th from Fresno, CA, with Bellator 133, and while there’s no title fight on the card, there are a pair of former Bellator champions in action, both of whom are desperately in need of a win. Pat Curran returns in the co-main event of the evening, to take on fellow featherweight Daniel Weichel. Curran has been part of a three-way trade of the Bellator featherweight title over the past while, losing his belt to Daniel Straus, winning it back, then dropping it in September to Patricio Freire. With Freire having gone on to beat Straus last month, Curran needs a win to earn himself another crack at the title.

In the main event,  Alexander Shlemenko looks to halt a two fight losing skid within Bellator when he takes on the dangerous Melvin Manhoef, who is himself coming off a brutal knockout loss to Joe Schilling. Shlemenko lost his Bellator middleweight crown back in September in a shocking upset at the hands of Brandon Halsey; prior to that, he suffered a submission loss at the hands of Tito Ortiz, who he went up in weight to face. Since September, Shlemenko has picked up a win outside Bellator, but that will do little to quell the critics that say he should drop down in weight, especially since his opponent, Switzerland’s Yasubey Enomoto, generally fights at welterweight.

Meanwhile, Bellator puts on its second women’s featherweight bout during the main card portion of the event. In that fight, top ten ranked Julia Budd takes on late-notice injury replacement Gabrielle Holloway. A win for Budd could set her up for a title shot against Marloes Coenen, who won her Bellator debut back at Bellator 130. Coenen and Budd are ranked first and second, respectively, at featherweight in the Unified Women’s Mixed Martial Arts rankings.

What can you expect to see unfold on the Bellator 133 main card? Lets take a look!

Julia Budd vs. Gabrielle Holloway

Julia Budd (6-2) was supposed to meet Brazilian Jiu-jitsu standout Talita Nogueira in her Bellator debut, however a late injury to the fourth-ranked women’s featherweight Nogueira (no relation to the famous brothers from Pride/UFC) forced Bellator to scramble. In the end they picked up Gabrielle Holloway, ranked ninth in the unified rankings, to fill in. Holloway (4-1) takes this fight on less than two week’s notice, and has a considerable task ahead of her.

Budd is second ranked in the division, and previously fought in Invicta FC, where she decisioned Charmaine Tweet to cap off a four fight win streak. It’s also worth noting that one of the Canadian kickboxer’s two losses happens to be current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (the other is current UFC bantamweight Amanda Nunes).

Competition level breeds experience, and this is Budd’s fight to lose. The short notice isn’t helping Holloway either, so despite a strong showing in regionals and a 7-0 amateur record, the odds are against her.

Prediction: Budd by Unanimous Decision

Chris Honeycutt vs. Clayton Macfarlane

Chris Honeycutt (5-0) enters Bellator 133 an undefeated prospect coming off his first Bellator win back in September. Prior to that, he served as UPC middleweight champion. Originally scheduled to fight as part of the Battlegrounds MMA one-night tournament in October, he was pulled from the event, and makes his return to the cage here against Clayton Macfarlane. At 4-0. Macfarlane is another undefeated prospect, whose four pro fights have all come under the Xplode MMA banner. Macfarlane actually trains at Team Xplode with the likes of Robbie Peralta, while Honeycutt, a decorated amateur wrestler, trains with Josh Koscheck and fights with a similar style.

Macfarlane is no stranger to wrestling himself, but Honeycutt is the stronger of the two, and has fought better competition. He’s the one to watch here.

Prediction: Honeycutt via Unanimous Decision

Pat Curran vs. Daniel Weichel

The co-main event of Bellator 133 features the return of Pat Curran (20-6) after losing his belt to Patricio Freire.  At just twenty-seven years old, Curran is really just now entering his prime, and the outcome of this bout against Daniel Weichel is key to his future in the featherweight division. It will likely dictate whether he’s fast-tracked back to a shot, or dropped to the back of the line. Meanwhile, three years older than Curran, Weichel (34–8), a German specializing in jiu-jitsu, is in the midst of a six-fight win streak, with the last three coming in Bellator.

Weichel is a legit opponent, and this will be a tough fight for Curran, who has looked uneven of late. He needs to be on his game here, avoid Weichel’s strong submission game, and press the pace.

Prediction: Curran by Split Decision

Alexander Shlemenko vs. Melvin Manhoef

Two hard hitters looking for a win square off in the main event, as former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (51–9) takes on knockout artist Melvin Manhoef (29–12–1 (1)). Manhoef is coming off a knockout loss to Joe Schilling, while Shlemenko halted a two-fight losing skid (with losses to Tito Ortiz up a weight class and Brandon Halsey) by beating Yasubey Enomoto outside Bellator.

This bout may be Shlemenko’s last at middleweight for Bellator. The Russian former champ is small for a middleweight, and the size disadvantage seems to be getting greater with every fight. Manhoef is a crowd-pleaser looking to knock his opponent’s head off, and if he connects here, Shlemenko, who has been knocked out just once in his career, may very well go to sleep.

That said, this should be competitive, as Shlemenko has 29 wins of his own by KO/TKO in 51 total wins – meaning he has as many knockouts as Manhoef has victories.

Who will come out victorious? Possibly whoever connects first.

Prediction: Manhoef by KO

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.