Bellator 130 takes place tonight at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas. It is Bellator’s final show of its 11th season until they return with the November 15th special headlined by Tito Ortiz against Stephan Bonnar in San Diego.

In many ways, tonight’s show is the final of the Bjorn Rebney era of Bellator. Beginning in 2015 they are moving away from the weekly seasonal schedule to a schedule of running monthly shows year round. They also plan on running the occasional big show on Spike. The special on November 15th will be the model going forward for the occasional big shows promoted by Bellator.

Last week’s show was their worst of the season and expectedly drew the worst rating. The show drew 564,000 viewers, and peaked at 780,000. The eleventh season average has been 668,143. The live+3 rating for last week’s show was 683,000 and peaked at 948,000. The peak was at 10:26 pm, which was before the Bradley-Neer main event was even on. The large increase in the live rating to the live+3 probably means people were saving the show to watch later because they were waiting to hear if the show was worth watching.

It wasn’t. It was a lackluster show headlined by two dull fights (Bradley-Neer, Alexander-Zwicker) that both unexpectedly went the distance. There was no title fight on the card, nor any other fight of consequence. And it has nothing to do with last week’s rating, but if you didn’t watch the prelims on Spike’s web site (my guess is none of you did), they were some other kind of awful. People have been complaining about the fights that aired on Spike last week, but they were masterpieces compared to some of the fights Bellator did on the prelims. Those prelims included a welterweight women’s fight featuring one opponent in her mid-thirties who had never competed before in MMA and ended with the winner dancing in front of John McCarthy.

Bellator’s peak rating for this season was for the September 12th show, which drew 771,000 viewers. It was headlined by Emanuel Newton defending the Light-Heavyweight title against Joey Beltran. Beltran had no business getting a title shot, so that rating would have been drawn solely for the attraction of Newton defending the title.

Although there has been an overall downward trend in Bellator’s ratings this season, Newton returns to defend the title against a more deserving contender tonight, so perhaps that trend will be reversed. Newton’s opponent is Linton Vassell, who isn’t a name, but has won 9 fights in a row, including 3 in Bellator, so although no one knows who he is, at least people aren’t making jokes about it like with Newton’s title defense against Beltran.

Tonight’s show also has a competitive lightweight match between Rick Hawn and Dave Jansen; the debut of women’s featherweight Marloes Coenen, formerly of Strikeforce; and, Bobby Lashley against Karl Etherington, an undefeated bloke from England with a 9-0 record. There are also 8 prelim fights airing on And only one of them is at catchweight, so isn’t that something.

Newton vs Vassell – Light-Heavyweight title

Newton, 30, is defending the Light-Heavyweight title. He’s one of the few premier fighters in the promotion, although with Bellator it is hard to gauge how good many of their top guys are because they frequently don’t fight the best of competition. Newton is 24-7-1 and 7-1 in Bellator. His only loss in Bellator was via split-decision to Attila Vegh in 2012. He avenged that loss by beating Vegh via split-decision earlier this year to win the title. He’s won six fights in a row and is known for his spinning back fist finisher.

Vassell, 31, is 14-3 with 1 NC. He is 3-0 in Bellator. 7 of his wins have come by KO/TKO, but he has won 2 of his 3 Bellator fights via submission by rear naked choke. He’s from Britain and has won 9 straight fights.

Whoever wins has a few possible challengers. Between Newton and Vassell, Vassell is the fresher of the two with more possible opponents. Rampage isn’t interested in fighting Newton, even though he is the obvious contender. There is no reason for him to be unwilling to fight Vassell, though, should Vassell win the title tonight. Newton has beaten King Mo twice, whereas Vassell and Mo have never fought. Mo is fighting Tom DeBlass on the November 15th show in a fight Mo should win.

The winner of Tito Ortiz vs Stephan Bonnar is a possible title fight, too, if either of them is interested in fighting for the title. It would make for a good major show headline and either Newton or Vassell would be favoured to beat whoever wins between Ortiz and Bonnar. There is also the undefeated Liam McGeary and former UFC name Houston Alexander as possible opponents, not so much for the title, but to setup future title matches.

If Vassell wins the title, I would be looking to setup Vassell vs Rampage. I would book the winners of the Tito-Bonnar fight and the Mo-DeBlass fight against one another and then probably do Newton vs Alexander in a rehab match for Newton.

If Newton retains, which is likely, options are more limited because he can’t fight Rampage or Mo, unless they want to give Mo a title shot after two previous losses to Newton. The logical challenger for Newton would be the winner of Tito vs Bonnar, but who knows if that person even wants to fight for the Bellator title. Otherwise they would have to book Newton vs McGeary, because there really isn’t anyone else. With Newton winning and facing the winner of Tito-Bonnar, I would book Rampage against Alexander and probably King Mo against the loser of Tito-Bonnar. If they do Newton vs McGeary, then I would do the winner of Tito-Bonnar vs Mo and still Rampage vs Alexander.

Lashley vs Etherington – Heavyweight

Lashley, 38, is of course a pro wrestling star who splits his time between Bellator and TNA, although with TNA’s TV situation that might not be for long. He is 11-2 in MMA and 1-0 in Bellator. He’s also 1-1 in Strikeforce. TNA finished taping TV a bit ago, which has allowed Lashley to focus on training MMA.

Etherington, 39, isn’t young, but he is 9-0, mostly fighting in England. He is 1-0 in Bellator. Except for one win via DQ, he has finished all of his fights in the first round. He’s actually a real find for Bellator. Prior to beating Jason Fish in 3:45 in Etherington’s Bellator MMA, the longest an opponent has managed to last against Etherington is 50 seconds.

Bellator’s heavyweight division is shallow, which is what makes Etherington a real find for Bellator. Still I question the judgement of putting Lashley in against him this early in the game. Etherington is good, but he has no name value, so there is only downside in this fight for Lashley. It would make more sense to groom Lashley against a few carefully selected opponents and then, assuming he wins those fights, put him against heavyweight champ Vitaly Minakov. Assuming Lashley loses against Minakov, at least they could headline with that fight. But in this circumstance Etherington will probably win and that will probably put him in line for a heavyweight title shot.

The only other major heavyweights in Bellator are Cheick Kongo, Javy Ayala, Blagoy Ivanov, and former champ Alexander Volkov. Minakov has already beat both Volkov and Kongo, and Volkov beat Ivanov in a tournament final, which really just leaves Ayala and the winner of Lashley-Etherington as possible contenders.

Dave Jansen vs Rick Hawn – Lightweight

This is a solid striker vs grappler fight between two skilled guys. Jansen, 35, is 19-2. He is undefeated in Bellator at 6-0. In WEC, he went 1-2, including a decision loss to Ricardo Lamas. His only other loss was via decision, too. Jansen won the season seven lightweight tournament last year, but never got the chance to fight for the belt. He’s won 10 fights via submission, all by choke.

Hawn, 38, is 18-3 career and 10-3 in Bellator. He has competed in the promotion’s welterweight and lightweight divisions, winning a welterweight tournament once and going to the finals another time, losing via split-decision to Jay Hieron. He also won a lightweight tournament. He lost in his lightweight title shot via submission to Michael Chandler and in his most recent fight lost in the title match for the vacant welterweight title via TKO against Doug Lima. Hawn has 11 TKOs.

The lightweight division is one of the deepest for Bellator, mainly because the lightweight division is one of the deepest in all of MMA. Wil Brooks and Michael Chandler are fighting over the Lightweight title on November 15th, which was vacated by Eddie Alvarez when he left for UFC. Whoever wins this fight between Hawn and Jansen could be in line for the next title shot. Marcin Held, Ryan Couture, and Alexander Sarnavskiy are all possible title contenders, too.

Marloes Coenen vs Annalisa Bucci – Women’s Featherweight

Clearly a showcase match for Coenen, 33, who is 21-6 and making her Bellator debut. She is 1-1 in Invicta and 3-2 in Strikeforce. She’s a former Strikeforce Bantamweight champion, who lost the title to Miesha Tate in 2011. She holds wins over Sarah Kaufman and Liz Carmouche, but losses to Tate, Roxanne Modaferri, and last year to Cris Cyborg in Coenen’s latest fight.

Bucci, 31, is a thai boxer from Italy with a 7-3 record in MMA.

Coker was a major promoter for women’s MMA in Strikeforce. Coenen is one of the best in her weight class, but I’m not sure if there’s really much point in having her in Bellator because there really isn’t anywhere to go with her. All of the best featherweights are in Invicta, which is closely affiliated with UFC, and the best in that division that are able to cut down to bantamweight are going to do so to compete in UFC. There are also few major opponents for Coenen at featherweight. The biggest would be Cyborg, but Cyborg is cutting down to bantamweight to get into UFC for a major fight with Ronda, and Cyborg beat Coenen in Invicta just last year anyway.

Tonight’s card is a significantly better show than what Bellator has offered for the last few weeks and it will be interesting to see how their main events shake out for shows in 2015.

William Patolino Macario [+195] vs. Neil Magny [-250] – Welterweight

Patolino, 23, is 7-1 and 1-1 in UFC. He is coming off a brutal win over Bobby Voelker in a fight that probably would have been stopped if Voelker didn’t have such an amazing chin. Prior to that fight he debuted in the UFC with a submission loss to Leonardo Santos via triangle choke. 5 of Patolino’s wins have come via TKO/KO.

Patolino beat and bloodied Voelker with fast striking in a fight that someone with a weaker chin than Voelker would have been knocked out. His loss to Santos was in the finals of season two of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. Santos submitted him at 4:43 of the second round with a triangle. Patolino was able to take him down and score on the ground during the first. But in the second Patolino gassed and Santos was able to take him down and get mount, finishing him with the triangle.

Magny, 27, is 12-3 and 5-2 in UFC. He’s coming into this fight with four straight wins. 7 of his 12 wins have come via decision. His two losses in the UFC were to Seth Baczynski via decision and Sergio Moraes via submission, both in 2013.

Magny is somewhat of a dull fighter that likes to score with takedowns and pound from there. But he is also susceptible to being taken down himself. He beat Garcia in a close fight where Garcia’s knee went out in the second round, but was still able to finish the match and even slam Magny after the knee was done.

Magny also holds wins over Rodrigo de Lima, Tim Means, Gasan Umalatov and Jon Manley. He beat Manley and Umalatov by taking them down and doing a better job controlling the ground game. The fight against Means was closer and Magny was only really able to win it in the final couple of minutes. De Lima also almost beat Magny by triangling him in the first round, but Magny came back to TKO him in the second.

In his loss to Baczynski, Magny was able to come back in the third round, but was too late to get the decision. Sergio Moraes was able to take Magny down and mount him, before submitting him with a triangle in the first round.

Magny has a lot of long fights. Patolino has a tendency to gas, although his stamina was much better in his win over Voelker. Magny could win by taking him down and scoring. Patolino will want to keep it standing and as long as he doesn’t gas should score points that way. Patolino is a great striker with potential, but I don’t think Magny is a good matchup for him as I’m not sure if Patolino can stop Magny. But if Patolino can avoid the takedowns and not gas out, then I think he can win this one, so he’s my pick via decision.

Yan Cabral [-600] vs. Naoyuki Kotani [+400] – Lightweight

Cabral, 31, is 11-1 and 1-1 in UFC. 10 of his 11 wins have come by submission. He debuted in 2013 with a decision win over David Mitchell, but lost via decision earlier this year to Zak Cummings. He also holds a win in Dream over a broken down Kazushi Sakuraba in 2011. Cabral trains with Nova Uniao.

Cabral was able to beat Mitchell by controlling Mitchell on the ground throughout all three rounds. In his loss to Cummings, Cabral was able to win the first round by getting a takedown and a mount and by going for a triangle earlier in the round. But in the last two rounds Cummings was able to mount Cabral as well as take his back and was landing more on the ground, which won Cummings the decision.

Kotani, 32, is 33-11-7 in MMA and 0-3 in UFC. His most recent UFC fight was a loss to Norman Parke via TKO in July. Kotani is a bit undersized for lightweight and I’m surprised that he hasn’t moved down a class. He started his career back in 2001 in RINGS. When that promotion folded he signed with ZST. He had his first run in the UFC in 2007, losing both fighters against Dennis Siver and Thiago Tavares. He returned to the promotion with the loss against Parke. Parke stopped Kotani at 3:41 of the second round after nearly stopping Kotani at the end of the first round. Parke dominated Kotani in the first round, taking his back and hitting him with elbows. In the second, Parke took him down again and pounded him for the finish.

They’re both submissions guys. Cabral has never won by TKO/KO, so I don’t see Kotani in danger of being stopped here like he was against Parke. Kotani has only been submitted once, a few years ago in ZST, and Cabral has never been submitted or stopped. If any fight on this card is going to a decision, it’s this one. Cabral seems like he has more upside, so I’ll pick him by decision, but this could go either way. This probably won’t be a real exciting match, either, unless you’re really into grappling.

Scott Jorgensen [+125] vs. Wilson Reis [-155] – Flyweight

Jorgensen, 32, is 15-9 and 11-8 in UFC and WEC combined. 5 of his wins have come by submission. He’s going into this fight after a win over Danny Martinez via decision in June. Prior to that he lost three fights in a row. Jorgensen is a guy who has been around forever, but has great fights, so even if he doesn’t win too often, he is frequently exciting. UFC’s flyweight division has little depth, so as long as he can win sometimes and do so in exciting fights, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to stick around. But as he advances deeper into his thirties he may need to drop the ‘Young Gun’s moniker.

He’s been in the fight of the night three times in the UFC and twice in WEC. That includes his most recent fight against Martinez. Jorgensen scored 16 takedowns against Martinez throughout their fight en route to getting the decision. Martinez, though, was able to bloody Jorgensen and looked close to getting a TKO a couple of times both early and late in the fight.

Jorgensen’s other fight in 2014 was a controversial loss to Jussier Formiga in March. Formiga hit Jorgensen with an accidental headbutt, dropping him. Formiga followed up with a choke for the win. It was a fight that in retrospect should have been ruled a no-contest, but it wasn’t.

Jorgensen’s only other fight at flyweight was against Zach Makovsky last December. Makovsky looked better in striking and scoring more on the ground, trying to get a choke in the final minute of the fight. Makovsky got a decision in a close fight.

Reis, 29, is 18-5 and 2-1 in UFC. He’s coming off a win over Joby Sanchez via decision in August. Prior to that he lost a split-decision to Iuri Alcantara in February and beat Ivan Menjivar via decision in Reis’ UFC debut last year. Earlier in his career Reis fought in Bellator and Elite XC, where he racked up wins over Bryan Caraway and Zach Makovsky, as well as losses to Joe Soto, Patricio Freire (twice), and Eduardo Dantas.

Against Sanchez, Reis was able to control the fight on the ground, but got knocked down with a left in the second. Reis was able to score with takedowns over and over again throughout the match, but wasn’t able to finish and won a decision. Reis also got clocked against Alcantara, but didn’t do as well with takedowns and scoring on the ground and lost a close split-decision. Against Menjivar, Reis started slow and again had a hard time standing. But he got the takedowns and controlled the top position, winning a boring decision.

Reis isn’t that much of an exciting fight, so maybe Jorgensen will make this interesting. Jorgensen might be able to TKO Reis. Alternately, Reis may be able to take Jorgensen down over and over and score points to win the decision. I don’t see that happening, as I see Jorgensen taking a decision by not allowing Reis to control top position and scoring more against Reis on their feet.

Felipe Arantes [-105] vs. Andre Fili [-125] – Featherweight

Arantes, 26, is 16-6-1 with 1 NC. He is 3-2-1 in UFC. He’s coming off a decision win over Maximo Blanco in February. 7 of his wins have been by TKO/KO and 4 by submission.

Arantes was able to knock Blanco down in the first round and nearly triangle Blanco in the second en route to winning a decision. In Arantes’ other wins, he stopped Godofredo Pepey in 3:32 when Pepey took Arantes down, but got reversed and Arantes pounded him for the stoppage. He beat Antonio Carvalho by decision, with Carvalho looking better in stand-up, but Arantes pounding him on the ground to get the decision.

Arantes’ losses were to Kevin Souza and Iuri Alcantara and he had a draw with Milton Vieira that could have been judged either way. Souza was better in stand-up, even though Arantes was able to take him down and pound him. Arantes actually looked better in stand-up against Alcantara, but Alcantara was able to take him down in a close fight. The drew with Vieira was also a close fight with two judges split and the third judge going 28-28.

Fili, 24, is 13-2 and 1-1 in UFC. He is coming off a loss to Max Holloway via submission in April. His debut in UFC was a win over Jeremy Larsen last October. His only other loss came early in his career and was due to a knee injury. He trains with Team Alpha Male. He’s also pretty big for a featherweight.

Fili showed great striking ability against Larsen, bloodying him in the first round before stopping him in the second. Against Holloway, Fili started out strong, but faded as the fight went on. By the time the third round came around, Holloway was hurting Fili with punches and Fili went for the takedown, but left himself open for the guillotine and got tapped in a pretty novice mistake.

Arantes has never been stopped, so I’m not sure if Fili can TKO him. I feel like Fili is the better overall fighter, but that he doesn’t match up favourably against Arantes because Arantes should be able to take him down and either stop him or win a decision.

Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass):

Gilbert Burns [-340] vs. Christos Giagos [+260] – Lightweight

Burns, 28, is making his lightweight debut after defeating Andreas Stahl at welterweight in his UFC debut in July. He’s undefeated at 8-0 with only his fight against Stahl having gone the distance. 4 of his wins have come by submission and 3 by KO/TKO. He made his MMA debut in 2012. He also has a ton of medals in BJJ.

Burns displayed good boxing against Stahl, but expended a lot of energy inefficiently trying to take Stahl down. Burns has a good right uppercut and does this move where he throws a spinning elbow up when he breaks out of the clinch. He has good cardio as he was still pushing the fight against Stahl deep in the third round.

Giagos (pronounced Ya-Goes), 24, is making his UFC debut. He is 10-2. His MMA debut was in 2010. 6 wins have come by KO/TKO and 2 by submission. His two losses were via submission, both by choke. One was via brabo choke, which is unusual to see in no-gi grappling like MMA. That was against a fighter named Jason Gonzales (6-2) in 2012. Giagos had been taking Gonzales down consistently throughout the first round. In the second, Giagos went for a double and Gonzales was able to submit him with a brabo.

The other loss was to Poppies Martinez (29-11), who currently fights in Bellator. Poppies submitted Giagos with a guillotine in 4:27. Giagos is clearly susceptible to the choke, especially when looking for the takedown.

Giagos, though, is coming off winning the Resurrection Fighting Lightweight title over Dakota Cochrane (who recently debuted on short notice Bellator) in August. Giagos was a +180 underdog going in and was probably behind on the scorecards when he blasted Dakota with a flying knee at 2:04 of the second round. Giagos has good hips, very agile, and good takedowns, but leaves himself open to get reversed or even choked on the ground. If not for the knockout, Cochrane actually looked like the more skilled fighter of the two.

This fight favours Burns. Standing, Giagos might have an edge, but Burns has good boxing, so that’s hard to say. Giagos has good takedowns, but Burns is an excellent grappler and Giagos probably won’t be able to hold up on the ground against him. Burns seems like the more complete fighter and should be able to move up against better competition with a win here.

Fabrício Camões [-135] vs. Tony Martin [+105] – Lightweight

Both of these guys are on the bubble. Camoes, 35, is coming into this fight after two straight losses. He is 14-8-1 in MMA and 2-3-1 combined between UFC and Strikeforce. 7 of his wins have come by submission. He was cut by UFC after a submission loss to Kurt Pellegrino in 2010, but came back in 2012 with a submission win over Tommy Hayden. Since then he has back-to-back losses to Melvin Guillard (decision) and Jim Miller (submission). Camoes is also a BJJ black belt.

He beat Hayden in the first round with a rear naked choke. He didn’t look as good in his fights against Guillard and Miller. The fight against Guillard was exciting and a good back-and-forth match, but Guillard showed improvement in his ground game against Camoes. Camoes was able to take him down throughout the fight, but wasn’t able to submit him or just keep him down and Guillard won a decision by scoring with more strikes. Camoes looked bad against Miller, being submitted with an armbar in the first round.

Martin, 24, is also coming into the fight after two straight losses. He is 8-2 in MMA and 0-2 in UFC. His two losses were to Dariush via submission and Rashid Magomedov via decision, both from earlier this year. 6 of his 8 wins have been by submission. In both of these losses, Martin looked good early in the fight, but faded as the fight went on. He nearly finished Magomedov with an armbar in the first round of their fight, but had a harder time taking Magomedov down in later rounds and couldn’t last with him standing. Against Dariush, Martin’s stand-up looked better, but Dariush was able to take him down in the first and second rounds and eventually choked him out in the second.

Camoes is 11 years older than Martin and this might be Camoes’ last shot at sticking. Martin might get cut with a loss, but even if so, there’s a chance that he could improve in the indies and come back. There’s less of a chance of that happening if Camoes gets cut. This is a match between two submissions guys who have both been submitted in the UFC. It could go either way, but I’ll go with Martin based on upside potential.

Felice Herrig defeated Heather Clark by decision, winning both rounds at the end of episode five of season twenty of The Ultimate Fighter.

Watching the first four episodes, I felt that Herrig was one of the personalities with the most star potential among the women competing in the tournament. But it wasn’t until I got to see her fight on the show, and to see the build for that fight during this episode, that I realized Herrig has potential as a drawing card at 115 pounds. She’s attractive, charismatic, and is at least a good fighter, although it’s difficult to say if she is a good enough fighter to hang with the best women at 115.

There are a few problems, though. I’m not sure of the value of introducing a second women’s division into the UFC right now. UFC is still developing depth in the women’s bantamweight division and they haven’t made any stars in that division outside of Ronda and Miesha. Ronda is one of the promotion’s biggest stars in any weight class. But other than Miesha, UFC is still working on creating new stars as possible opponents for Ronda, or even taking over from Ronda should she decide to leave fighting behind and go the Hollywood route full-time.

Because UFC is still developing the women’s bantamweight division, introducing a second women’s division makes things more difficult for fans to follow. One of the biggest knocks against the UFC in the past few years has been the continual addition of weight divisions. It sounds like a good idea on paper, to give fighters more opportunities to fight at better weights. But it adds so many additional titles that it makes it difficult for casual fans to keep up with who the champions are, let alone who the legit contenders are. Adding another women’s division amplifies that problem and makes it difficult for any one or two individual fighters in the women’s strawweight division to stand out as new stars.

There are advantages in having a women’s strawweight division, too, though. UFC makes a lot of money by producing television content, and they need fights to produce that content. More TV means more fighters which mean more weight classes and more titles. The additional classes and titles makes the promotion more difficult for fans to follow and harder for new stars to get over because the focus from fans is divided into so many areas, but that is offset by the additional revenue from producing tons of TV. Whether that additional revenue is worth it will be revealed in UFC’s long-term success as a business.

I’ve always been afraid that UFC won’t stop adding titles. There aren’t so many titles in the UFC right now that things are too confusing, but if the promotion continues to add belts it will eventually make almost all of them meaningless. It will become like boxing where you need a scientific calculator to figure out who is champion of what. One might say that UFC has added all the weight divisions for men they possibly can, but that is precluding the idea of breaking weight divisions up. For example, King of the Cage has a Cruiserweight title, which is 230 pounds. It would be a terrible idea for the UFC to do this, but who knows what will happen in the next few years. Another example would be adding something like a Junior Welterweight title at 160, or splitting the Middleweight division up into Middleweight and Super Middleweight, or whatever. All terrible ideas. But if UFC decides they need more titles because they need more title matches due to running so many TV shows, these titles could happen.

There’s also another advantage, however, of introducing the women’s strawweight division, as it allows smaller women who couldn’t possibly fight in the bantamweight division to get a shot in the UFC. The women’s strawweight division would make more sense, though, if there was a particular woman who had so much star potential that it was worth creating a whole new additional weight division just to be able to market her. Creating the women’s bantamweight division was worth it to have Ronda Rousey, because she draws money.

If there is anyone at from TUF 20 with that kind potential, I think it is Herrig. But it is only potential, and perhaps not even much. There are other women on the show who are probably better fighters. Carla Esparza is more skilled, but less charismatic. And there are certainly women who are not on the show who are better fighters than Herrig, such as Claudia Gadelha, who is in UFC, but wasn’t included in the cast because her English is poor. Also, Jessica Aguilar is probably the best fighter worldwide at 115, but she is the champ in WSOF. And the best all-time at that weight is Megumi Fujii, recently retired. There are also other charismatic women on the show, such as Bec Rawlings and Rose Namajunas. But I get the sense that whoever wins the title here is probably going to end up fighting Gadelha or even Aguilar at some point and will drop the belt to them. I also don’t think anyone in the tournament will beat Carla Esparza. Esparza holds wins in the past over Herrig and Rawlings, but losses to Aguilar and Fujii. It makes this show feel like it is really missing something by not having Aguilar on it. Paige VanZandt is another fighter with star potential missing from this show. She is fighting in UFC, but was excluded from this cast because it was felt she was too young.

Even though I think Herrig appears to have the most star potential from the cast, I don’t think she has the potential to be a star at the level of Ronda, Gina Carano, or even Miesha. I think her look is too similar to Ronda’s. I don’t think she is a top level fighter in that weight division, let alone in any weight division, like the way Ronda or Cyborg are perceived. The last thing that anyone would want is for Herrig to be perceived as a second-rate, smaller Ronda. Herrig is charismatic and attractive, though, which means there is also always the risk of her leaving for Hollywood should she become a star in the UFC. Gina’s acting career hasn’t exactly set Hollywood on fire, but that doesn’t mean Herring won’t be given offers if UFC does indeed make her into a star.

The season is only five episodes in, though, so the personalities of these women still have the opportunity for development. Next week Aisling Daly fights Angela Magana. Daly has been a ghost on this show. I don’t think she has gotten more than 30 seconds of screen time altogether. I doubt most people watching the show even know how to pronounce her first name, it’s that bad. I’ve watched her fight in Cage Warriors from Britain and was pleasantly surprised when I found out she was added to the cast. She is a better fighter than her record indicates. Magana, on the other hand, is a natural heel.

I think there is potential for whoever emerges from this season as a star to become a drawing card on smaller UFC shows. And the person made into a star isn’t necessarily whoever wins the belt because I’m not sure how much meaning this belt really has. I just don’t see any new stars being created here that could headline a pay per view. If someone does become a star out of this season, I think it would be Herrig, but a lot of work needs to be done to get there.

UFC 179 takes place this Saturday, October 25th at the Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The show is headlined by Jose Aldo (24-1) defending the Featherweight title against Chad Mendes (16-1). It’s a rematch of their fight from UFC 142 in January 2012 where Aldo knocked Mendes out in the first round. Since then Mendes has been on a tear in the UFC, with 5 straight wins that include 4 straight knockouts. Aldo, on the other hand, is undefeated in the UFC. He’s currently ranked number two pound-for-pound behind Jon Jones.

Aldo may be one of the best fighters at any weight worldwide, but that success in the ring hasn’t translated into success at the box office. In his three pay per view headliners, Aldo drew buy rates of 235,000 (UFC 143 against Mendes), 330,000 (UFC 156 against Frankie Edgar with a strong undercard), and 170,000 (UFC 163, against Korean Zombie). The best fighter in the world isn’t necessarily the best draw in the world and the two frequently have little to do with one another.

UFC has had an off year at the box office. It has been a transitional year. A lot of it has been bad luck, but promoting fights means taking chances with people being hurt, which has been the case this year with the promotion’s biggest draws. The strongest buy rate of the year thus far has been 545,000 buys for UFC 175 (Weidman vs Machida). The weakest has been 115,000 buys for UFC 174 (Mighty Mouse vs Bagautinov), although UFC 177 (Dillashaw vs Soto) at 125,000 came close. The buy rate for UFC 178 hasn’t been made public yet.

I suspect Aldo’s return match against Mendes will draw a similar buy rate to their first fight, around 235,000 buys, maybe less. It could be higher if people are interested in seeing them fight again, especially since they have both been so dominant against their opponents since the first time they met. I don’t get the sense, however, that this is a pay per view that people are interested in.

Part of that could be that it is in Brazil. UFC hasn’t done a pay per view in Brazil since UFC 163, even though the promotion frequently runs shows in that country. Also, the pay per views from Brazil that drew good buy rates all featured Anderson Silva. There’s no one with Silva’s kind of star power at UFC 179. UFC is then coming back with UFC 180 on November 15th in Mexico, which makes two straight pay per views held outside the US.

This is the first time UFC has run Ginásio do Maracanãzinho, where capacity is about 12,000 or so. Every other time UFC has been to Rio they have run HSBC Arena, where they’ve drawn upwards of 16,844. Ginásio do Maracanãzinho is next door to Maracanã Stadium, which hosted the famous Helio Gracie vs Masahiko Kimura match on October 23rd, 1951. The Helio-Kimura match is probably the most famous grappling match before UFC (it wasn’t technically vale tudo), with a couple of possible exceptions.

Ginásio do Maracanãzinho itself has also hosted its share of famous vale tudo fights, including Carlson Gracie’s win over Waldemar Santana on October 8th, 1955, and Rickson Gracie’s rematch against Rei Zulu on November 12th, 1983. Rickson’s two wins over Zulu were what built his legend as the Gracie family ace for his generation in the years before the creation of the UFC.

Aldo vs Mendes

Aldo [-225] isn’t a good matchup stylistically for Mendes [+175]. Mendes, 29, is a former NCAA All-American with Cal Poly. He debuted in MMA in 2008 and had his first fight in WEC in 2010. He is 15-1 in UFC and WEC combined. Of his 16 career wins, 6 were by KO/TKO and 2 by submission. He trains with Team Alpha Male in California.

Mendes is a great wrestler, with fast hands and knockout power. His stamina isn’t the best. His most recent fight was a win over Nik Lentz on Fox last December. Mendes took a decision victory in a fight where he had the flu. He was looking for his fifth straight knockout win, which would have been a record for the UFC. He didn’t get it, but he was able to dominate Lentz, a skilled fighter, throughout the match. He took Lentz down three times in the first and nearly knocked him out quickly with a big right hand. Lentz held on and Mendes took him down multiple times in the second and third rounds en route to a decision.

The reason Mendes doesn’t match up well against Aldo, though, is that Aldo is so good at defending against takedowns and is a devastating kickboxer, with some of the nastiest kicks in the UFC. Aldo, 28, is on a 17 fight win streak. He debuted in MMA in 2004, and came over to WEC in 2008. His record in UFC and WEC combined is 14-0. He trains with Nova Uniao out of Rio, although he is originally from Manaus.

Aldo’s sole loss was via submission due to a rear naked choke back in 2005 in Jungle Fight (Wallid Ismael’s Brazilian promotion that has been around for years) against Luiz Azevedo, a mediocre fighter with a career record of 17-9-1.

That fight was a bit weird. Azevedo spent the entire first round attempting to take Aldo down, but was unable to. In the second round, Azevedo was able to get Aldo to the canvas by pressing him against the ropes and then basically lifting him up and turning him away and taking him down. But they got tangled in the ropes while Azevedo had a bodylock on Aldo with Aldo’s back to Azevedo. The ref restarted them in the center of the ring, placing Aldo back into Azevedo’s body lock.

But the restart seemed to give Azevedo better positioning with his arms, as he was given better control of Aldo’s upper body after the reset than when they were tangled in the ropes. Azevedo was then able to lock in the rear naked choke and Aldo tapped. Aldo was in trouble before the reset, but it is difficult to imagine that fight ending the same way if they weren’t reset in the center of the ring.

Aldo hasn’t lost since. In Aldo’s first title defense against Mendes, he was able to avoid Mendes’ takedowns, which is no small feat considering Mendes’ wrestling skill. In the dying seconds of the first round, Aldo blasted Mendes in the face with a nasty kick after breaking away from Mendes’ grip against the fence. Earlier in the fight Mendes appeared to be out gunned by Aldo in striking, as Aldo’s kicks were clearly more devastating than Mendes’ stand-up game, although Mendes obviously has knockout power that could have come into play should that fight have gone longer.

Mendes will probably have a hard time taking Aldo down and will be stuck eating hard kicks from Aldo standing. But Mendes has punching power, so the standing game is not all one sided. Aldo probably has better stamina than Mendes, too, so the longer the fight goes the more it seemingly favours Aldo. Aldo is the obvious favourite and also my pick to win, but if Mendes can utilize his punching power to stop Aldo, or if he can figure out how to put Aldo on his back consistently throughout the fight and not gas out doing so, then he has a good chance of taking the title.

Glover vs Davis

The co-main event is a light-heavyweight match with Glover Teixeira [-300] against Phil Davis [+230]. Both are coming off losses in April, Teixeira in his title shot against Jones and Davis against Anthony Johnson. The winner of this fight will be close to a title shot, although maybe a fight away.

Glover, 34, is career 22-3 with 13 KO/TKOs and 6 submissions. Besides the loss to Jones, his other two losses were very early in his career. He debuted in MMA in 2002 and debuted in the UFC in 2012. He was undefeated in 20 straight fights going into the Jones match. He’s 5-1 in UFC, with wins over Ryan Bader, Quinton Jackson, and Fabio Maldonado among others. He famously trained with Chuck Liddell when Liddell was active.

Glover also holds a black belt in BJJ. He’s a good, hard puncher and a good wrestler who formerly represented Brazil in international competition. In the loss against Jones, Glover’s power punches were taken away when Jones weakened his right arm with an elbow crank early in the fight. He also had a hard time taking Jones down, going 0 for 5 in takedown attempts. Jones, however, went 3 for 6 in takedown attempts throughout that fight.

Prior to that fight, Glover was coming off a win over Bader in September 2013. It was a come from behind win where Bader actually hurt Glover with punches, but Glover knocked him down with a left hook and then finished him with punches on the ground in 2:55.

Davis, 30, is 12-2 with 4 submissions and 2 KO/TKO. Both of his losses were by decision. 3 of his submissions were by choke, including 2 by anaconda choke. He is a former four-time NCAA Division I All-American at Penn State. He is 8-2 in UFC, with wins over Lyoto, Rogerio Nogueira, Alexander Gustafsson, and Brian Stann among others. His other loss was via decision to Rashad Evans.

Davis has good striking defense. He is second all-time at light-heavyweight in significant strikes defense at 70.8% (Bader is first at 71.7%). Davis is also third all-time at light-heavyweight in lowest strikes absorbed per minute (Bader is first, Randy Couture second). But in his latest fight against Anthony Johnson, Davis looked bad, being unable to take Johnson down and getting taken apart by Johnson standing up en route to losing a decision.

Glover is the favourite going into the fight, but I don’t think Davis is as much of an underdog as people make him out to be. Glover will need to avoid Davis’ takedowns and get past his striking defense in order to win. Davis will need to avoid Glover’s power standing up, something he had trouble doing against Anthony Johnson. He’ll need to be able to Glover on his back, something he also had trouble with against Johnson. My pick is Glover, but if I were gambling on this fight because of the long odds against Davis I might place a bet on Davis. If the odds were more favourable then I would bet on Glover. But I think this will be a closer fight than a lot of people anticipate.

With Anthony Johnson suspended indefinitely and probably out of UFC (although who knows), the light-heavyweight title picture is shaken up a bit. Jones defends the title against Cormier on January 3rd. Gustafsson was booked to face Jones for the title, got hurt, and then was booked to face Johnson before the latter got suspended. Rashad Evans, who was scheduled to fight Cormier last year before getting hurt days before the fight, has talked about a fight with Gustafsson early in 2015. Besides the aforementioned names, the only other possible contender for the title is Bader, who is on a three-fight winning streak, but lost to Glover in 2013 and it at least one or two wins away against top opponents to be considering for a title shot.

If Gustafsson fights Evans, and assuming the loser of Jones vs Cormier doesn’t get an immediate title shot, then one figures the winner of Gustafsson and Evans will get the next shot. The winner of Glover and Davis would then need to fight someone else, possibly Bader, or the loser of Jones-Cormier (although one would think if Jones loses he’ll probably get an immediate rematch). And that all assumes Johnson remains suspended, or gets axed from the UFC. Glover has beaten Bader already, so if Glover beats Davis then he will probably have to be matched up against someone else.

Dan Henderson, Fabio Maldonado, Ovince St Preux, Jimi Manuwa, Rafael Cavalcante, as well as Mauricio Shogun and Rogerio Nogueira are all somewhere in the 205-pound rankings, too. Maldonado fights Stringer on the undercard of UFC 179. Manuwa is booked against Shogun and St. Preux is booked against Francimar Barroso on November 8th.

Later this week I’ll have a preview of the preliminary matches on Fox Sports 1 and Fight Pass.

Other fights on the pay per view:

Fábio Maldonado [-160] vs. Hans Stringer [+130] – Light-Heavyweight

Maldonado, 34, is from Sao Paulo and has a career 21-7 record. He has 12 KO/TKOs and 3 submissions. 2 of his 7 losses were by KO/TKO and 2 by submission. His record in UFC is 4-4, which is misleading because he is a better fighter than his record indicates. He’s coming off a 35 second TKO loss to Stipe Miocic in a fight where he was coming in as a replacement for JDS to fight Miocic at heavyweight.

Fabio was formerly an undefeated boxer in Brazil, and is one of the best boxers in the UFC, excellent at going to the body with hard punches. He is second all-time in striking accuracy among all UFC fighters at 60.6%, behind only Anderson Silva at 67.2%, and first all-time at light-heavyweight. He is also second all-time in strikes landed per minute among all UFC fighters at 6.18%, behind Cain at 6.21%, and is first at light-heavyweight. He’s also fourth all-time at light-heavyweight in strike differential.

Fabio likes to start slow and taunt his opponents, before firing up in the later rounds with hard body shots and combos to the head. He started slow in his fights against Gian Villante, Joey Beltran, and Roger Hollett, eventually defeating all three.

Villante was able to take him down early in the fight, but tired as the bout wore and it could have easily been stopped in Fabio’s favour. Fabio’s split-decision win over Beltran could have been scored either way. The same can be said for his fights against Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury, both of which were judged against Fabio. Many of these fighters were able to take Fabio down early, but wore out due to Fabio’s body strikes late in the fight.

Fabio also showed a tremendous chin in his loss to Glover at UFC 164 in October 2012. Glover was destroying him on the feet, but Fabio didn’t want to stop. He was upset when the doctor called off the fight after the second round. Although Fabio is one of the best pure boxers in the UFC, Glover was a level above as an overall striker.

Stringer, 27, made his UFC debut in March with a split-decision win over Francimar Barroso. He’s originally from the Netherlands. He is 22-5-3 in MMA, with 9 KO/TKOs and 8 submissions. He’s had losses earlier in his career via decision, knockout, and submission due to triangle choke.

His win over Barroso via split-decision could have gone either way, with rounds one and two being split. Barroso got a trip in the third round and was able to take Stringer down. Stringer, though, outstruck Barroso in the second and third rounds en route to winning the decision.

Stringer’s last fight before being signed by the UFC was in WSOF last year against Francisco France. The fight went to a draw, but Stringer would have won a decision if he didn’t have a point deducted for multiple groin strikes. France, however, was able to drop Stringer with a big right hand in the second round and nearly finished him after that. Stringer was able to win the fight by landing more strikes in the clinch during the first and third rounds.

I think this fight favours Fabio more heavily than the odds show. I might be bias, though, because I have seen more tape of Fabio. Fabio will probably start the fight slow, let Stringer tire, and work him over with body punches in the second and third rounds. Stringer can be rocked by hard punches, so that is certainly favourable for Fabio. Stringer, though, is good in the clinch, and Fabio had a decision loss to Kyle Kingsbury a few years ago where Kingsbury was able to score points throughout the fight by landing knees in the clinch. I still think Fabio will win, probably via decision.

Fabio is ranked in 15th at light-heavyweight. Should he win, he might be ready to move up and face another stiff competitor from higher in the division. Matching him up with a fighter who has a bit of name but is on the downside of his career such as Dan Henderson, Mauricio Shogun, or Rogerio Nogueira might be a good idea to help build Fabio as a possible contender a year or so down the line.

Darren Elkins [-185] vs. Lucas Martins [+150] – Featherweight

Elkins, 30, is coming off a decision loss to Jeremy Stephens in January. He is 17-4 in MMA and 7-3 in UFC. 5 of his wins have been via KO/TKO and 5 via submission.

Elkins likes to take his opponents down and scores points pounding them on the ground. His losses were typically fights were he had a hard time taking his opponent down and didn’t match well standing. Elkins had a hard time taking Stephens down in his latest fight and Stephens was able to score points standing. Against Chad Mendes, Elkins was knocked out with an overhand right in 68 seconds. He was also submitted early in his UFC run by Charles Oliveira when he attempted to slam Oliveira, who locked on an armbar and tapped him out.

Elkins has wins in the UFC over Hatsu Hioki, Antonio Carvalho, Steven Siler, Diego Brandao, Tiequan Zhang, Michihiro Omigawa, and Duane Ludwig. Hioki was able to bloody Elkins in the first round, before Elkins won rounds two and three by taking him down and scoring. The same situation occurred with Brandao, who won the first round when Elkins had a hard time taking him down, but lost the fight when Elkins was able to pound him on the ground in rounds two and three. Against Siler and Zhang, he was able to continually take them down to win the decision.

The three wins against Carvalho, Omigawa, and Ludwig are misleading based on the record alone. Elkins stopped Carvalho in 3:06, dropping him with two right hands, but the stoppage was quick as Carvalho popped right back up. The fight against Omigawa was universally considered bad judging, to the point that Dana White said afterwards that UFC considered Omigawa the real winner of that match. And Elkins beat Ludwig when Ludwig broke his fibula as Elkins took him down 44 seconds into their fight.

Martins, 25, is coming into the fight with a three-match winning streak, all finishes. He is 15-1 in MMA and 3-1 in UFC. His sole loss was to Edson Barboza via TKO in Martins’ UFC debut in January 2013. 11 of his wins have been by TKO.

Martins is an exciting striker who frequently has one of the better fights at each event. He has a couple of come from behind wins, most recently over Alex White when Martins was knocked down early in the fight, but came back in the third round with a right hand for the TKO in Martins’ debut at featherweight. Also, Martins was behind on points against Jeremy Larsen before stopping Larsen in the third round. His other win was against Ramio Hernandez at bantamweight. Martins was a massive bantamweight and dropped Ramiro quickly with a punch and choked him unconscious.

In his loss against Barboza, Martins was stopped in 2:38. Barboza completely dominated the stand up and dropped him with a left before finishing Martins with punches on the ground.

I see this one as being fairly simple. If Elkins has a hard time taking Martins down, then Martins has a good chance of getting a TKO. If Elkins can get the takedowns, it is difficult to know how Martins will respond, but the fight will be swung in Elkins’ favour. I think Martins should be able to stop Elkins, though, in what should be an exciting fight.

Carlos Diego Ferreira [-190] vs. Beneil Dariush [+155] – Lightweight

Ferreira, 29, is undefeated at 11-0. He is 2-0 in UFC with wins over Ramsey Nijem and Colton Smith. 6 of his wins have come by submission.

Both of Ferreira’s wins in the UFC have come by TKO. He stopped Nijem at 1:53 of the second round. Nijem was able to score a knock down in the first round, but Ferreira came back and dropped him with a combo and finished him with punches on the ground. Against Colton Smith, Ferreira only needed 38 seconds, taking him down and choke him out.

Dariush, 25, is 8-1 and 2-1 in UFC. He is coming off a submission win over Tony Martin in August after being stopped by Nijem in the first round back in April. His UFC debut was in January with a submission win over Charlie Brenneman. 5 of his 8 wins have come by submission.

Dariush choked Martin out at 3:38 of the second round. Martin was beating Dariush standing in the first until Dariush took him down. In the second, Dariush bloodied Martin, took him down, and was able to lock on the choke. His loss against Nijem was in Abu Dhabi and he may have been a bit shaken, as he was booed heavily for being Iranian. Nijem stopped him in 4:20, knocking him down and finishing him with punches on the ground. And in his UFC debut, Dariush was able to knock Brenneman down with an overhand right and then tap him out with a choke.

This fight definitely favours Ferreira. Ferreira should be able to knock Dariush down and stop him. Dariush might be able to beat Ferreira standing, but the safer strategy would seem to be to take Ferreira down and work for the submission, if possible.

I’ll be back this week with a preview of the prelims.

Bellator had their worst show of the season Friday night at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. It was widely regarded as a terrible lineup going in, headlined by former UFC fighters Josh Neer and Paul Bradley fighting at welterweight and Houston Alexander facing Virgil Zwicker, who was taking the fight on short notice, at light-heavyweight.

The show was terribly dull. Neer was making his Bellator debut. Neer seems like a good fit for Bellator, a scrappy brawler who has exciting fights and with a couple of wins could challenge for the Welterweight title. But he was ridiculously bad in this fight, doing nothing but laying on the bottom, unable to get up while being held down by former University of Iowa All-American wrestler Paul Bradley. Neer ended up getting into a terrible argument with John McCarthy, as Neer’s strategy was clearly to stall Bradley as much as possible on the ground in order to get reset and go for the KO. But McCarthy wouldn’t reset them, and that led to cross words between McCarthy and Neer.

Houston Alexander also had a bad fight in the co-main event. He was facing Virgil Zwicker, who has fought in Bellator before, but is largely unknown. Zwicker came in 10 pounds heavier than the 205-pound limit, but that was agreed upon because he was taking the fight on 5 days notice, replacing James Thompson.

The fight was boring, unusual for an Alexander match. Alexander held Zwicker down throughout most of the three rounds, and neither guy had the gas to finish the fight as it wore on. It ended up going to a majority draw that Alexander would have won, but was docked a point in the third round for repeatedly headbutting Zwicker while in Zwicker’s guard.

Bellator’s Live+3 average for this season has been 749,500, slightly behind the tenth season average of 786,000. Last week they did 731,000 viewers Live+3 for a card with a strong main event of Joe Warren beating Eduardo Dantas for the Bantamweight title. Last night’s show didn’t have anything close to that quality of main event, but ratings for Bellator shows don’t vary wildly, so even though this show stunk I wouldn’t expect the rating to be too low.

Joe Vedepo (16-8) vs Davin Clark (5-1-2) at 185 pounds

Vedepo is a UFC veteran who went 0-2. He’s been with Bellator since 2012, going 3-2. Vedepo is also from Iowa. He’s a brawler with a good chin and good ground and pound. Only 4 of his 24 career fights have gone to a decision. Clark was making his Bellator debut, but hasn’t fought anywhere since 2012. His sole loss was by submission via kimura in 85 seconds to Hector Carillo, a guy with a lopsided 5-6 career record.

Clark was inexperienced and looked like he didn’t belong in the cage with a guy at the level of Vedepo, not that Vedepo is a world beater or anything. Vedepo controlled the first two rounds by repeatedly taking Vedepo down before finishing him with ground and pound at 2:27 of the third round. Bellator has a lot of depth at 185, so they could match Vedepo up with a few different guys and make a good fight.

Andre “Chatuba” Santos (36-9) vs James Terry (13-7) at 170 pounds

Even though he’s had 45 pro fights, Santos has never fought in the UFC. He’s also making his debut in Bellator, having fought most of his career in Brazil. Of his 36 wins, 22 have come by way of submission. He’s not a great striker, and 4 of his 9 losses have come via TKO/KO. Terry is a Strikeforce veteran who went 6-4 in that promotion. He’s 0-1 in Bellator. 8 of his 13 wins have come by TKO or KO. He’s been tapped twice, both times by rear naked choke.

This fight was horrible. It wasn’t the worst fight on the card (that distinction goes to the welterweight women’s fight on the prelims — yes, a welterweight women’s fight), but it was the worst fight on the Spike show.

The first round was pretty close, with the two trading in the center. Santos had such weak looking strikes, though. Second round was more of the same. Third round and Santos got a knockdown. Neither of these guys looked like they could survive in a fight against an opponent who actually knows how to kickbox. I was watching this show with my brother and his wife, and we were laughing at how ridiculous Santos’ punches looked. They were like big, looping slaps.

Santos won the UD with 30-27 straight, but I had this fight scored for Terry. Really, it was one of those matches where both guys came away looking like losers. If I were Bellator, I wouldn’t book either of them again.

Virgil Zwicker (12-4) vs Houston Alexander (16-10) at 215 pounds

Alexander, 42, fought in UFC years ago, going 2-4. He’s had two fights in Bellator, going 1-1, including a decision loss to Vladimir Matyushenko last year. The peak of his career came when he knocked out Keith Jardine in UFC back in 2007. He also lost to Kimbo Slice in UFC in 2009. 11 of Alexander’s 16 wins have come by KO/TKO.

Zwicker fought in Strikeforce, going 1-2 in that promotion. He’s 1-1 in Bellator, including a loss to Linton Vassell, who is challenging for the promotion’s Light-Heavyweight title next week. 9 of his 12 career wins have come by TKO/KO and only 3 of his 16 career fights have gone to a decision.

This was another terrible match. Instead of going for the knockout, Houston kept taking Zwicker down throughout the match. Neither guy had any gas, so the fight got slower and slower as the rounds wore on. Houston was warned early in the bout for an illegal headbutt and told he would have a point taken away if he did it again. So, obviously ahead on the cards, Houston decides to headbutt Zwicker again in the third. He loses a point and the fight went to a majority draw.

Zwicker didn’t look like someone Bellator should bring back, but there isn’t a lot of depth at light-heavyweight, so I would imagine he’ll be back with the promotion. Houston stunk, too, but he still has a bit of name value and might be a good matchup for someone like Tito or Quinton on one of Bellator’s big shows next year in a battle of former UFC names.

Paul Bradley (21-6) vs Josh Neer (34-13-1) at 170 pounds

Both Neer and Bradley are from Iowa. Neer is a gritty brawler who likes to throw down. He also isn’t afraid to get hit. He has been in and out of the UFC since 2005, going 6-9 in UFC. He had three ‘fight of the nights’ in UFC against Melvin Guillard, Nate Diaz, and Mac Danzig. UFC most recently cut him in 2013 after three straight losses. He’s only fought once in Bellator, losing to Eddie Alvarez via technical submission in 2010.

Bradley is a UFC vet who went 0-2 and appeared on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. He’s 1-2 in Bellator. He was a two-time All-American at the University of Iowa.

Bradley won every round, taking Neer down and holding him there. Neer obviously had no way of stopping Bradley’s takedowns and had no means of getting back up. Neer kept jacking at McCarthy to get a stand-up. You could hear them audibly arguing during and after the fight, with McCarthy telling Neer that this isn’t kickboxing.

Neer was a major disappointment here because he is a guy who can brawl and is the type of fighter that Bellator likes to promote. But he had no game at all against Bradley, looking out of his league. Neer might be a good pick to fight Michael Page next and Bradley could wind up in line for a Welterweight title shot.