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Bonesnapper’s Bellator Breakdown Team:
Michael Flores (7-3); PSU J.H. (3-5)
Trig Berge (5-4); Mike Dutro (6-2)
Bonesnapper BBT (21-14)
Michael Chandler vs Akihiro Gono –Michael Flores
In a fight to keep the lightweight champion busy, Bellator signs Akihiro Gono to play the role of sacrificial lamb. Bjorn Rebney spoke about the difficulties of setting up a fight for Chandler by explaining, “You call a lot of 155lbers and say, are you interested in this fight? And the answer across the board with a lot of guys is no. I’m not interested in that fight in any way, shape or form.” Which is very understandable, if you have been keeping an eye on Chandler’s prolific progress in terms of skill, recognition and position in the Bellator company as lightweight champion.
Chandler has gone from Missouri wrestler who had to stand and throw to get inside for the shot, to a fighter who can stand with some of the best. Mixing a potent combination of lethality in his hands and a relentless aggression forever stalking forward, hunting for the finish. As evidenced in his fight with long time top five ranked Eddie Alvarez, Chandler stalked him down and beat him up, breaking Eddie’s will, forcing Eddie to choose between GNP turning his face into ground chuck, or to roll to his belly for the RNC. Eddie being smart, chose the latter of the two.
For as much as Chandler has been moving forward with his burgeoning career in mixed martial arts, father time has put the freeze on Akihiro Gono’s. Gono while a crafty, tenacious veteran in his own right, has not found success in either the cage, or ring for more than two years now. Gono having last won in March of 2010, an unanimous decision over Diego Gonzalez. Gono does possess serviceable stand up, though the speed of his strikes comes much slower, telegraphed and with less impact. On the ground, I do believe that Gono can offer more of a challenge than Chandler may expect. Gono has faced some of the sports best grapplers, winning some and losing some, but never really out of his depth in any of those losses. In fact Gono has not lost via submission since 1996; I was in eighth grade.
Best case scenario, is Gono is able to control the posture of Chandler towards a decision loss, eating little face rearranging GNP. Worst case scenario, Gono gets demolished inside of one round, possibly two, taking heavy-heavy damage; hopefully none too heavy than a Hornbuckle head kick. Michael Chandler is – 8-900 for a reason at online sports books, Chandler wins this handily, and in my opinion by knockout first or second round.
Ben Saunders vs Bryan Baker — Mike Dutro
The first Welterweight semi-final fight features Ben Saunders vs. Bryan Baker. This should serve as an entertaining bout that all fans will enjoy. Baker has dropped down to welterweight after falling short in the middleweight tourney two times. The big thing he brings to this fight is his power standing and his top game on the ground. He likes to trade but if he is getting the worse end of it he wont shy away from his wrestling. While on top he stays heavy and works with punches and searching for submissions. His key to victory is to search for the KO punch or laying and praying.
Since Saunders has come to Bellator his stand up and ground game have been on point. He tends to have mental slips in the stand up and pays for it (Loss to Douglas Lima). Against Baker he needs to be aware of the power he possess. Ben needs to keep the fight at a distance working his kicks and keeping him at bay with his power jab. When Baker comes in, he will need to punish with knees in the clinch. On the ground Saunders should have no problems, he has shown improved TDD and his guard can stifle anyone right about now.
Look for Saunders to take advantage of Bakers holes in the stand up. Baker comes forward with his chin up and has payed for it in the past. Saunders wins by KO.
Fantasy pick High-Saunders-KO-1
Ryan Ford vs Luis Santos –Trig Berge
Ford-5’-11” 170LBS With a record of 17-4 which consists of 9 KO, 7 SUB, and 1 DEC wins. His losses come by 3 submissions and 1 DEC. Ford is 8-2 in his last 10 fights. His best competition in those 10 fights were Parisyan (3rd round T/KO win), Spratt (2nd round RNC sub win), Douglas Lima (2nd round armbar sub loss), and David Hulett (1st round guillotine sub loss). Ford is an aggressive striker with fast heavy hands. His foot work and head movement has been getting better. Ford doesn’t have a wrestling background so he uses his strength and quickness to get the fight to the ground where he does have excellent ground and pound. Ford uses his strength to simply overpower opponents on the ground. The biggest weakness Ford has is his take down and submission defense. Once on the ground Ford seems to leave himself open for sub attempts. Overall Ford is an athletic fighter that needs to round out his game before making it to the next level.
Santos-6’-1” 170LBS with a record of 50-7-1 which consists of 26 KO, 14 DEC, and 10 SUB wins. His losses come by 3 DEC, 2 KO, and 2 SUB. There is also 1 draw against Carlos Pereira. Sapo is 8-1-1 in his last 10 fights with wins over Curry and Hornbuckle and a loss to Ben Saunders. Santos is primarily a striker that relies heavily on kickboxing and Muay Thai, but he does possess excellent BJJ skills as well. He is a well rounded fighter that has great striking both in close and at a distance. Santos works real good from the clinch as well mixing in elbows and knees. He has solid takedown defense to keep the fight standing. When the fight does go to the ground Santos is more than proficient. Santos holds a black belt in BJJ.
Saunders drew up a blue print for beating Sapo. By applying one submission after the next, all while peppering Santos’ face and body with short punches, Saunders was able to wear Santos down and force a tapout. The real question here is can Ford follow the same game plan. Everything Saunders did to Santos was attributed to two things. The first was Saunders used his striking to get Santos backing up. This opened up the takedowns. Once on the ground Saunders physically dominated Santos. Secondly he was relentless with both ground and pound as well as sub attempt after sub attempt. This kept Santos from ever being able to mount much of an offense himself. I can see Ford being able to physically dominate Santos on the ground with vicious ground and pound, but his submission attempts are not going to be a threat. The only problem with Ford actually doing that, is that his takedowns are weak at best. On the ground, I think Ford will start working his ground and pound, but Santos will catch him in a submission and end the night. Santos-Sub-3
Damian Grabowski vs Dave Huckaba –Mike Dutro
Damian “The Polish Pitbull” Grabowski is exactly what his nickname says a Pitbull. When he gets you on the ground he is looking for the finish whether it be by submission or KO. He is constantly working for that finish. He has great takedowns and switches that he uses to get the fight to the ground. He is currently a purple belt in jiujitsu and has used that to score 9 submission wins. His favorite way to get the fight to the ground is grabbing a body lock and tossing you into side control where he works for kimuras and arm chokes. On his back he is solid, against Eddie Sanchez (last outing) he reversed position and finished the fight with a Kimura. It shows the strength he posses. He has 2 weakness which are his TDD and his stand up. His stand up is sloppy and just uses it to get in for the take down. His best chance to win this fight is getting it to the ground ASAP where he holds a big advantage.
Huckaba is a “Bad Man” when it comes to fighting cans and low tier fighters. Each step up in competition he has failed. While he does posses big KO power (14 TKO/KO wins) his ground game leaves one wanting more. He has so/so take down defense which could be his downfall against Grabowski. He has the ability to get back up to his feet which can serve him well in this fight. In the stand up he likes to paw his left jab out there and then throw big right hands looking for that home run. Huckaba’s cardio is solid for a big man, if he can stay alive into mid of the 2nd round his chance of finding that big right hand becomes very likely
Grabowski should win this fight by submission as Huckaba leaves openings to get submitted. I wouldn’t be shocked if he landed a big KO though.
Fantasy Pick- Mid-Grabowski-Sub-1
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Tim Stout on BS Forum as: Dock59