It’s a big weekend for MMA with the UFC rolling out, quite possibly, their most stacked card of the year on Saturday night. But tomorrow night, Bellator 104 takes center stage, as the Season Nine Welterweight Tournament rolls on at US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Bellator 104 will feature the semifinals of the 170 lb. tourney, along with the return of Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove.
The first semi features Rick Hawn vs. Brent Weedman. Hawn, the former US Judo Olympian, is a slight betting favorite at (-165), which may seem a little low.
In his quarterfinal bout, Hawn won a lopsided decision — but seemed to struggle a bit with the size of his opponent, Herman Terrado. Hawn, of course, was noted for knockout power in his bouts at lightweight, where he won Season 6 tournament. This bout with Terrado, Hawn’s tenth with Bellator, consisted of clinches, moving in and out, and landing punches here and there.
His opponent, Brent Weedman, is another Bellator regular, appearing eleven times for the promotion. In his last appearance, Weedman showed his improving ground game against Justin Baesman. Recently promoted to BJJ black belt, Weedman scored a quick takedown and transitioned nicely from side control to inverted triangle, where he finished Baesman with a beautiful armbar.
They’re familiar to the cage as any Bellator competitors. In fact, Weedman and Hawn actually previously fought each other last year, with Hawn earning a unanimous decision. Hawn would dominate takedowns and much of the standup in that fight, and would seem to remain a step ahead of Weedman. The bout will show how much Weedman has improved, or add fuel to the fire for those who question if the 37 year old Hawn has lost a step.
The other semifinal has old favorite War Machine against Ron Keslar. War is a slight betting favorite (-160), which seems about right to me.
War has looked excellent in his two Bellator appearances, particularly with his jiu-jitsu game under longtime trainer Baret Yoshida. He’s been able to ground each opponent, dominate position, and get a finish.
Team AKA product Keslar showed some improved all-around skills in his upset victory over Sergio Junior. He dominate strikes and taekdowns in the first round, then scored an impressive knockdown off of a right hand in the second which saw Junior’s head bounce off the canvas. Keslar mostly coasted from there, which may not be an option against War’s newly aggressive ground game. The Ultimate Fighter alum would seem to have the advantage here, but not by much.
Tomorrow will also spotlight another The Ultimate Fighter alum, this one a former TUF champion: Kendell “Da Spyder” Grove. Grove, who won Season Two of the Ultimate Fighter while being coached by Tito Ortiz, is looking for a new North American home after snapping a three fight losing streak in his last bout. That night, the wiry veteran from Hawaii earned a TKO victory over England’s Danny Mitchell. His opponent tomorrow is, like Mitchell, largely unknown outside of a spotty record — but he will be fighting in his home state, so expect a little extra emotion there.
As always, enjoy the fights!