Freelance: Bellator 166 Preview

The Bellator MMA double-header from both cards share the same theme: second chances. One man’s desire for that in rising 27-year-old Eduardo Dantas has put him in the top spot of Bellator 166 opposite 40-year-old Joe Warren, a gritty near-seven-year veteran of the Bellator cage from Colorado that topped him on the scorecards three years ago.

What Warren lacks in power (nine wins by decision) he makes up for with the fact that to beat him, you have to put him away (all five losses on his record are finishes.) With the nine decisions on his record, Warren has proven he’s durable and can go the distance?

For those of you new to the stalwart at 135 pounds, the answer is yes. Warren has been both a previous featherweight, interim bantamweight, and bantamweight champion with tournament championships in those divisions. He made history by being the first fighter in Bellator to hold titles in two different weight classes and by being the oldest fighter at nearly 38 (37 years and 362 days to be exact) to win a title.

Dantas is the standard Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert (six submissions, four KO/TKOs with a finish rate of 55 percent) but mirrors Warren with an almost identical eight decision victories–at the time Warren also held the record for decision wins in Bellator with eight.

This fact coupled with the fact that Warren is a world champion wrestler and the styles could cancel each other out leads me to believe we will see this bout reach its 25th minute.

Prediction: Eduardo Dantas def. Joe Warren via Unanimous Decision

Ideally though, if the styles do cancel each other out, it will hopefully be a classic example of “stand and bang.” Warren’s last win was by Guillotine choke.

A.J. McKee vs. Ray Wood

The initial challenge of 5-0 A.J. McKee going to battle with 13-3, 6-time finisher (46 percent) Emmanuel Sanchez is no more after a short-notice injury to “El Matador.” The injury was not disclosed.

Filling in will be Ray Wood (7-2 with six stoppages of his own, an 86 percent finish rate that includes four submissions.) Wood made a name for himself in Bellator with a highlight reel spinning backfist/punches combo for a TKO triumph over Chris Jones at Warren vs. Caldwell in March.

He is impressive but when you compare winning next by decision before tapping out in May to the 32 seconds it took McKee to end the night of Cody Walker, making a pick becomes fairly easy.

Prediction: A.J. McKee def. Ray Wood via KO/TKO

The Rest of the Card

Marcos Galvao has 25 bouts under his belt and is taking on an opponent, L.C. Davis listed at just 3-1. 17-7-1 is jiu-jitsu fighter (much like Dantas who was the better man in their second meeting for the Bellator bantamweight belt) he is a multiple-time world champion has 12 decisions comprising a HUGE 71 percent of his victories. It would be wise to expect a point fight.

Prediction: Marcos Galvao def. L.C. Davis via Unanimous Decision

Chris Honeycutt’s slide down the proverbial ladder could continue after he faces 17-1-1 Ben Reiter (nine finishes, 53 percent.) Honeycutt went pro in 2013, ending his debut at just 1:16 of the first round before going undefeated (including a “No Contest”) until he met and lost to Paul Bradley in a rematch of that “No Contest” just three days after Honeycutt’s streak reached three years.

He’s on a back-to-back decision win streak but Reiter makes the near future look grim.

Prediction: Ben Reiter def. Chris Honeycutt via KO/TKO

Little is known about the undercard, but I do have personal experience watching 17-11 Gregory “The Blade” Babene of France live and what’s perhaps more impressive that those wins or 14 finishes (an 87 percent finish rate) is the fact that 13 wins came in the first five minutes. In short–don’t go to the bathroom or snack bar when this man fights Emiliano Sordi next.

Babene has also won five of his last six.

Prediction: Gregory Bebene def. Emiliano Sordi via KO/ TKO, Round 1

Other Predictions: Chris Jones (10-4) def. Derrick Adkins 8-3 with a decision likely, John Lair (2-1) over debuting Kennedy Nzechukwu, and Chance Rencountre (8-2 with 5 KO/TKOs) over 9-3 Levi Queen via KO/TKO.