By Benjamin Bieker
Brett Cooper vs. Andreas Sprang
Brett Cooper came close to winning the middleweight tournament last season, but he fell to the hands of Doug Marshall. That has been a common flaw in Cooper’s game, because nearly half of his eight losses have come by knockout. The knockout loss to Marshall is something he will share with Sprang who was finished by Marshall in the opening round last year. This will probably come down to a striking battle with the brawling style of Cooper to the technical striking of Sprang.
Dan Cramer vs. Perry Filkins
Cramer is rare as a fighter, because he started his professional career in the UFC where he went 1-1 before being dropped. He has been with Bellator since 2010 where he went 6-1 before entering season eight’s middleweight tournament. Notable wins have come over TUF competitor Josh Samman and Brian Rogers. Cramer likes to use a more grinding style where the up and coming Filkins has a lot of knockout power in his hands. Cramer needs to get this fight to the ground and use that control to win this fight where Filkins will likely try to finish it on the feet.
Mikkel Parlo vs. Brian Rogers
Parlo looked to be the next big thing for Bellator when he entered the promotion at a perfect 8-0 with six knockout wins. His first fight was impressive when he earned a first round knockout over Jared Combs. Unfortunately, he lost a decision to Sultan Aliev in his next fight. He will be looking for redemption when he takes on Rogers who has been hot and cold in his career so far. Rogers impresses with his amazing knockout ability, but his losses to Cramer, Sprang, and Shlemenko. In a fight between two knockout artist it will just come down to who lands first.
Jason Butcher vs. Giva Santana
The elder statesman of the tournament has to be 41 year old Giva Santana. He has only lost twice in his MMA career, and both of those came by decision. Being a fourth degree black belt he has shown amazing grappling ability by finishing 16 of his 18 wins by submission. It will be nearly a year layoff when he returns to the cage which may play a factor considering his older age. In Butcher, he faces a great BJJ practitioner, but the problem is it will not help him when facing Santana. This fight will eventually hit the ground and when it does it will take a lot for Butcher to compete with the skills of Santana.
What are your thoughts?