By Benjamin Bieker
Muhammed Lawal vs. Seth Petruzelli
Petruzelli is a tough fighter, but he has never been able to perform on a big stage against top fighters. Whether it is in the UFC, Bellator, or the WEC Petruzelli always seems to fail. Lawal can take this to the ground, or he can stay standing up. It would be easier for Lawal to take this to the ground and control it with his strength and size, but he has been prone to try out his standup. Even if that happens, Lawal will still win, and he will pick up a first round stoppage in this fight.
Jacob Noe vs. Renato Sobral
Sobral is getting a second chance in a Bellator tournament after getting knocked out his first time out. That was only his second fight in three years, and the more constant fighting will do wonders for him. Sobral has a clear shot at winning this by taking it to the ground, and using his vaunted submission skills to submit Noe. If Mikhail Zayats can submit Noe in the first round then so can Sobral which is what he will do. You know Bellator always wanted a Sobral and Lawal tournament final which they should get as all goes well in these opening round fights.
Vitaly Minakov vs. Ron Sparks
Minakov is a tough 10-0 undefeated fighter, but that does not mean he has not faced some tough competition. He can knock people out standing or submit them on the ground, and that all comes from his Sambo background. Between him and Sparks, they have gone to decision only twice in nearly 20 career fights. Unfortunately for Sparks, he will be outgunned by the younger fighter who will take this fight to the ground. From there he will work for a submission which he will get in the second round after Sparks tires in the first.
Blas Avena vs. War Machine
It seems that they are giving War Machine a gimmie fight or a warm up depending on how you look at it. Avena is only 8-6 in his career with all six of his losses coming by way of TKO. Machine has the power to knockout anyone as seen by his wins by over Roger Huerta and Jared Rollins. This should be a no brainer, and looks for Machine to win via knockout in the first round.
Rich Hale vs. Vinicius Queiroz
This fight all depends of where it takes place. Hale has the ability to finish Quieroz on the feet or ground, because he is just the more complete fighter. Yes, Quieroz is a tough fighter, but he is not the most consistent. Hale, on the other hand, only seems to fail when he is outgunned which he will not be in this fight. Look for Hale to pick up a win via second round TKO.
What are your thoughts?