It’s been an up-and-down few weeks for Bellator MMA.
The promotion may have lost a little momentum when the big Tito Ortiz vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson PPV bout was cancelled, but then, maybe they got a little back with the recent “Fight of the Year” candidate between Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez.
Now, Tito Ortiz is still injured and out of the picture, but Jackson has a fight coming up tomorrow night at Bellator 108, to be televised on SPIKE TV at 9 pm EST/PST from Atlantic City, New Jersey.
So, is tomorrow night’s bout, Jackson’ 44th MMA fight, worth checking out? Let’s have a look.
His opponent tomorrow night, Joey Beltran (14-9-1), isn’t the household name Tito Ortiz was, but he has enjoyed some noteworthy MMA success.
Beltran began his career with a 12-3 record, with solid wins over Rolles Gracie Jr., Tim Hague, and Houston Alexander. His only losses were in his first pro bout, and later, a pair of bouts with KOTC champion Tony Lopez. In May 2010, the California slugger was 28 years old, signed to the UFC and looking good.
Unfortunately, the good times wouldn’t last. He lost decisions in his next two bouts, a harbinger of what would be to come from Beltran: showing considerable toughness, but not the continued improvement that observers hoped to see. Granted he’s had some exciting back-and-forth brawls in recent years, including two UFC “Fight of the Night” honors, but he’s just not getting the wins as he has stepped up in competition. Since that 12-3 start, Beltran has won only two of nine bouts.
That includes a no-contest ruling due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs against Igor Pokrajak last December. A 2012 move to Light Heavyweight failed to change Beltran’s career momentum.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jackson (32-11) is on a three-fight losing streak, with his last win coming back in May 2011. That night he earned a decision victory over Matt Hamill. Prior to that came a split decision victory over Lyoto Machida (which many observers disputed) and a lopsided decision loss to Rashad Evans. Still, those losses are all at the hands of top competition. Perhaps that the best way to sum up their most recent careers. Jackson is losing to great fighters. Beltran is losing to good ones.
Still, they say power is the last thing you lose. Jackson’s only been stopped on strikes to prime, PRIDE-era Wanderlei Silva and Maurício “Shogun” Rua. Beltran has only one knockout loss, to 250 lb. slugger Lavar Johnson.
It’s not a great fight, but it’s an interesting one — and Jackson’s presence certainly adds some glamor to this Bellator season.
The rest of the Bellator 108 card has promise, too.
Marcos Galvão opens against Tom McKenna, which should offer the former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champ a showcase for his skills. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire fights Justin Wilcox in the Season 9 Bantamweight final, and it should be interesting to see how the Bellator mainstay adapts to the young wrestler’s style. Alexander Volkov’s title defense against Vitaly Minakov is as good as a heavyweight bout we’ll see outside of ZUFFA, with young gun Minakov looking to remain undefeated. His fellow Russian, Bellator champ Volkov, is on a ten fight winning streak of his own.
So, come for the glamor, but the rest of the show should be worth staying for. As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights.