Mike Richman’s last four fights have ended inside one round. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
How the time flies. It seems like just yesterday that we were discussing Bellator MMA’s Season 8 debut on Spike TV, and now we are suddenly staring at the home stretch.
We continue hurtling toward the inevitable season finale on Thursday, when Bellator 92 emanates from the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. Here is what to watch for during the Spike TV broadcast:
Take a serious look at Mike Richman and Alexandre Bezerra and tell me with a straight face that those dudes are not going to blow the roof off the arena.
I know, I know. It seems like every week I find myself out here talking about how much I love Richman, but can you blame me? Study the man’s body of work and try to find an argument against giving him an honorary degree from the University of Violence.
The only problem I have had with Bezerra in the past was his overly cautious approach against his chum, Marlon Sandro, but “Popo” has been the opposite of timid in his last two fights, which resulted in first-round finishes of Matt McCook and Genair da Silva. No way this thing goes 15 minutes.
‘Frodo’ and the Stretcher Man
If Richman deserves a diploma from the University of Violence, Marlon Sandro should be regarded as a tenured professor. His one-punch knockouts of Tomonari Kanomata and Masanori Kanehara are regarded as some of the most brutal finishes of all time, and in my opinion, Sandro’s right uppercut should be regarded as one of the most devastating techniques this sport has ever known.
With all that said, it is undeniable that the Brazilian is slowing down. This fact was readily apparent in his majority decision win over Akop Stepanyan -- a fight I actually scored for the Russian in spite of a point deduction. I think Sandro benefited from Stepanyan’s reluctance to push the pace that night, and I do not believe Magomedrasul Khasbulaev will afford the former Sengoku champion the same luxury.
There is little I could say to describe Khasbulaev that the Dagestani did not already communicate in his dominating victories over Josh Pulsifer and Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva, so I will just leave it at this: “Frodo” is a straight killer right now. If you want to beat him, you had better knock him unconscious or break something or find a way to lay on top of him for 15 minutes, because it appears anything short of those three things will not be good enough.
Can Sandro keep his stocky opponent and range to make full use of his vaunted punching power or will Khasbulaev close the distance in order to attack with his devastating ground-and-pound?
‘Cosmo’ and Cooper
Any professional fighter who makes a “Seinfeld” reference in his nickname is an OK guy in my book.
This might seem a little strange, but I am really holding out hope that Dan Cramer has turned his living room into the set of “The Merv Griffin Show” or is secretly posing as the Moviefone voice after receiving a new phone number. I want so badly for Cramer to rave about the freshness of this year’s Mackinaw peaches, only to later temporarily lose his sense of taste after inhaling a bunch of fumigation chemicals.
Oh, stop being a baby. Cramer would most certainly not die from the exposure to the toxic fumes. Did you see his performance in the quarterfinals against tournament veteran Brian Rogers? “Cosmo” is as healthy as an ox. While I will admit that he needed every bit of that beast-strength to get by “The Professional Predator,” I think a win over a competitor as seasoned as Rogers lends serious credence to the idea that Cramer could win this whole thing.
Like his foe, Brett Cooper is a former welterweight who has found a comfortable place at 185 pounds, posting a 7-1 record since moving to middleweight in 2010. Cooper was relentless on the attack against Norman Paraisy in the Round of 8, taking down the Frenchman something like 947 times over the span of 15 minutes.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who watched both of those fights does not have high hopes for a Cramer-Cooper collision. I truly do not know which of these aggressive fighters will advance to the middleweight final, but I am certain that finding out will be a lot of fun for those of us on the couch.
A simple piece of advice for Sultan Aliev: when Doug Marshall takes a swing, be somewhere else.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting light heavyweight champion may not be busting down the door to Sherdog’s top 10 anytime soon, but that does not change the fact that he could knock out a Budweiser Clydesdale with his right hand. Andreas Spang found out the hard way two weeks ago, when “The Rhino” turned the Swede inside out with a fastball to the jaw.
At 37, this could easily be Marshall’s final chance to wear some gold. Currently standing in his way is the undefeated Aliev, who did anything but impress in his Bellator debut against Mikkel Parlo. With both Aliev and Marshall just a win away from making the final, which man will rise to the occasion?