It’s safe to say that this has been a tough week for Bellator MMA.
On Monday, it was announced that both the main event and the featured preliminary bout for tomorrow’s Bellator 119, to be televised on Spike TV from Rama, Ontario, Canada at 9 pm EST/PST, were both cancelled.
First, headliner Brett Cooper announced he has been forced to pull out of his headlining main event bout with Brandon Haisley due to a back injury. The bout, which was to serve as the Season 10 Middleweight Tournament Final, will be rescheduled.
The eventual winner between Cooper and Haisley will face Alexander Shlemenko for the Bellator Middleweight Championship. Cooper and Shlemenko fought in one of 2013’s most memorable bouts, with Shlemenko earning a decision victory.
“After my fight with Kendall [Grove], my back just hasn’t been where I need it to be to have a proper training camp for one of the biggest fights of my career,” Cooper told MMAJunkie.com. “It’s a setback, but with some time off, I should be ready to go by late July. I never like missing time, but I know this is the right move. I’ll be back stronger, and I’m looking forward to winning another tournament and getting another shot against Shlemenko.”
Bellator 119’s featured prelim was to be Fabricio Guerreiro against Shahbulat Shamhalaev, but earlier this week it was revealed that Visa problems have forced Guerreiro off the card as well.
So, what’s left?
Actually… a few decent fights. Including our new main event.
With the top of the show depleted, the Bellator Season Ten Featherweight Tournament finals take center stage (and main event status). The bout will feature one of Bellator’s up-and-comers in Desmond Green, getting his first chance in the spotlight, against a mainstay of the European circuit in Daniel Weichel.
(Incidentally, the four-bout main card now features eight fighters from six different countries, which may be some kind of record.)
24 year old Desmond Green is that classic North American MMA fighter, boasting a collegiate wrestling background (from University of Buffalo) and solid all around skills. The Rochester, NY native has shown an explosive shot and impressive athleticism in his 13 MMA bouts. He hasn’t finished many opponents, but then, he’s only been finished once: an armbar in 2012, also in Canada. His semifinal victory over Will Martinez was typical Green: he’s labelled a “grinder” now, getting his takedowns and light ground-and-pound to score decision wins — but he’s pushing the pace and improving in all areas, so it would seem those finishes can come.
The opponent tomorrow is 29 year old Daniel Weichel, who advanced to the finals with a victory of David Bisette. A native of Frankfurt, Germany who fights out of Russia, Weichel’s fighting style is typical of his ilk: utilizing a sharp kickboxing attack and some crafty submissions, but with limited wrestling ability. He’s as polished as Green is raw, boasting a staggering 41 MMA bouts to his credit, mainly with Shooto and M-1.
Unfortunately, Weichel’s submission game is top-heavy and it’s unlikely he’ll get top position on Green. Watch for the “work in progress” to turn a corner here and add tournament victor to his growing resume.