Earlier this week Bellator began announcing fights for when they move to Spike TV in the New Year, but before that journey starts there’s still a matter of wrapping up Season 7 on MTV2.
Bellator 84 live from The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., on Friday serves as this season’s finale and features the finals of multiple tournaments.
For starters, the winner of the main event heavyweight meeting between Richard Hale and Alexander Volkov not only earns the tournament victory and $100,000 grand prize that goes along with it, but they will also be crowned new heavyweight champion as Cole Konrad relinquished the title due to retirement in September.
In the other tourney final, lightweights Marcin Held and Dave Jansen square off for the right to meet the winner of next month’s championship fight between Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn.
Also, Felice Herrig returns to the Bellator cage after 32 months to take on late replacement Patricia Vidonic.
Last card for a little over a month, let’s make like Tim Taylor and nail it.
Season 7 Heavyweight Tournament Final and Heavyweight Championship bout (265-pounds)
Richard “Rare Breed” Hale (21-4-1, 6-1 Bellator) vs. Alexander “Drago” Volkov (18-3, 2-0 Bellator)
Hale expected to see Volkov opposite of him in the finals, and that’s exactly what happened.
The former oversized light-heavyweight moved up in weight for this tournament and he’s already taken out much larger opponents Mike Wessel and Thiago Santos in the first-round. The 27-year-old will actually have a weight advantage this time around despite giving up three inches in height.
Hale may have the edge in strength for once but that has never slowed the six-foot-seven Volkov from implementing his length in the striking department, offsetting his lack of strength in the process. The 24-year-old has won nine straight fights, including nods over Brett Rogers and Vincius Queiroz en route to the finals, mostly by staying on the outside and using his kicks and long arms to keep opponents at bay.
This should be a fun fight. Volkov’s game plan will be the same as always but it will be interesting to see what Hale tries to do. Does he stand and bang hoping to catch the Russian, or does he look for a takedown? My guess is the former, but I can’t see him getting the fight to the ground successfully enough times to outscore Volkov’s pinpoint striking.
Winner: Volkov via unanimous decision.
Lightweight Tournament Final bout (155-pounds)
Marcin Held (15-2, 4-1 Bellator) vs. Dave “The Fugitive” Jansen (19-2, 5-0 Bellator)
It’s not too often you see a toe hold end a fight when you get to this level but that’s exactly what Held did to Rich Clementi in their semifinal meeting. The 20-year-old retired the gritty veteran with the victory, his fifth straight since losing a back-and-forth one-round bout with Michael Chandler. If the Polish submission whiz wins and Chandler defends the title against Hawn he’ll finally get a chance at redeem his lone loss on foreign soil.
Jansen, 33, should be thanking his lucky stars for coming out on the better end of a split decision over Ricardo Tirloni in their semifinal encounter. It was a very close fight, much like Jansen’s quarter-final win where he finally submitted Magomed Saadulaev in the third-round of a grueling battle. Can the WEC veteran keep his five-fight winning streak alive against Held?
One thing is for sure, he needs to avoid grappling at all costs. It’s not that he’s out of his comfort zone on the mat, but that’s really the only area where he can lose this fight. Held’s striking is still far from impressive and if he can’t get close enough to initiate his submission attempts he’s in a great deal of trouble. I believe Held will score a takedown or two but Jansen will quickly work his way back to his feet and continue to score points.
Herrig was originally scheduled to rematch Michele Gutierrez before an injury forced Gutierrez to withdraw leaving an opening for Vidonic to make her promotional debut.
Vidonic and Herrig have actually already fought this year with Herrig taking a unanimous decision at an Xtreme Fighting Championships event in April. The 28-year-old Herrig followed that up with a unanimous decision over Simona Soukupova making her 4-1 in her last five.
Vidonic, 33, snapped her two-fight losing skid with a unanimous decision over Sally Krumdiack in July. At just five-foot-two inches tall she’ll be giving up three inches in height to go along with a slight reach disadvantage.
This fight really seems unnecessary considering they fought less than eight months ago. The only difference this time around is that they are fighting on a bigger stage that Herrig has experienced before and Vidonic hasn’t. It would be quite the upset if Herrig doesn’t score another decision win.
Winner: Herrig via unanimous decision.
Bellator 83 results: With the featherweight tourney final being removed from the card there were only two main card bouts and we managed to miss both of them. Our first goose egg leaves us at 25-14 entering this season’s final week.
Ryan Young is the lead reporter for MMA360.ca and a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @YoungRyan4.
The full results from the Bellator 84 weigh-in:
Heavyweight Title Fight: Rich Hale (240) vs. Alexander Volkov (232.2)
Lightweight Tournament Finals: Dave Jansen (156) vs. Marcin Held (156)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Joe Vedepo (185.6) vs. Louis Taylor (185.8)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Jack Hermansson (185) vs. Daniel Vizcaya (186)
Welterweight Feature Fight: Quinton McCottrell (170.4) vs. Belal Muhammad (170.2)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Cliff Wright (155.8) vs. Christian Uflacker (155.2)
Women’s Feature Fight: Patricia Vidonic (117.8) vs. Felice Herrig (115.8)
Catchweight Feature Fight (215 lbs.): Anton Talamantes (214.2) vs. Anthony Gomez (214)
Flyweight Feature Fight: Jerald Williams (126) vs. Joey Diehl (125.2)
Heavyweight Feature Fight: Eddie Castillo (266) vs. Dave Sharp (265)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Robert White (155) vs. Kenny Booker (158.2)