Bellator 87: What to Watch For

By: Mike Whitman
Jan 30, 2013
Patricky “Pitbull” Freire has lost back-to-back fights in violent fashion. | Photo: Andy Hemingway/

Bellator Fighting Championships’ eighth season rolls along on Thursday, as Bellator 87 takes place at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Highlighting Bellator’s return trip to the Great Lakes State will be the lightweight tournament quarterfinals, featuring headliners Patricky Freire and Guillaume DeLorenzi, among others. Here is what to watch for during the Spike TV broadcast:

Pitbull’s Peak

Before we get to the main event itself, I would never forgive myself if I did not laud the potential of both Freire and DeLorenzi as antagonist characters in a “Punch-Out!!” style video game series, should Bellator ever decide to go down that path, as we should all hope they do. Pay attention, Bellator, because this is important. No more of that downloadable 3-D arcade-simulation hybrid stuff. I want two dimensions, star-punches and pink sweat suit running montages, capeche?

Regarding the actual fight, let us first examine our featherweight Bald Bull equivalent. There are so many things to love about “Pitbull” and his style. He is powerful and aggressive to a fault, willing to trade even at his own expense. As a result, the Brazilian has lost three of his last four fights. The strategy that earned him a 9-1 mark to start his career has since backfired, as high-level opposition has found ways to either avoid or effectively absorb his power punching and counter him when he overextends.

There should be a lot of pressure on Freire going into this tournament, especially in the quarterfinals. What will become of him if he loses this fight? Despite Freire owning one of Bellator’s best-known monikers, the prospect of effectively promoting a fighter sporting a 1-4 record in his last five fights would seem to be a daunting one.

‘Il Toro’

File Photo

DeLorenzi is a stellar 10-1.
Though Freire is likely regarded by most as the favorite heading into the 155-pound quarterfinals, I suspect Bellator’s own Don Flamenco might take exception to that view. Yes, I know Don Flamenco is Spanish, just like I know Bald Bull is Turkish, just like I know that DeLorenzi’s nickname means “The Bull.” Cut me some slack.

Much like Freire, DeLorenzi loves to play the part of the hammer, as he did in his pro debut against future Bellator talent Nordine Taleb. However, it should be recognized that the 28-year-old has rarely faced good competition since that debut, save for a 2009 meeting with Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran War Machine that resulted in the Quebecer getting strangled in the first round.

Nevertheless, DeLorenzi has won five straight fights since his lone career setback, most recently taking out Jonny Carson in November in his first outing under the Bellator banner.

DeLorenzi possess a myriad of sharp skills, but I think he could find himself in trouble if he decides to punch with Freire. I am not a fan of how high and stationary DeLorenzi holds his head while winging shots -- a fault I believe “Pitbull” will look to exploit. Still, if he is able to navigate the Brazilian’s powerful strikes and get his hand raised, he would instantly become a known commodity in front of more than half a million viewers.

Lots of Lightweights

The rest of this Season 8 field is so wide open that I barely even know what to say.

If Alexander Sarnavskiy and Thiago Michel Pereira Silva fail to put on an enthralling kickboxing display from range, it will be a tragedy. Both men are excellent when standing in the pocket, and something tells me that neither competitor will be interested in a ground battle, despite possessing solid submission skills. While I think the Brazilian is likely the more technical of the two, I would give a slight power advantage to “Tiger,” especially in regard to his hands.

It would also be a mistake to miss David Rickels’ collision with Lloyd Woodard. While I think the first fight mentioned will probably resemble a fencing match at times, I estimate there will be none of that here. Instead, picture throwing a couple of starving wolverines into a wooden crate with a half-eaten ham hock covered in sausage gravy.

I would also be remiss if I failed to mention Will Brooks and Ricardo Tirloni. “Ill Will” looks to be a serious talent at 155 pounds, thanks in no small part to his second-round demolition of Satoru Kitaoka on New Year’s Eve in Japan. Unbeaten through eight fights, Brooks possesses the type of well-rounded tools and athleticism that could win him this tournament, unless Tirloni derails his hype train before it leaves the station. The Brazilian may not be the favorite in this field, but I think his fight with Dave Jansen in the Season 7 semis proved he can be a problem for most anyone on the Bellator roster if the ball bounces his way.

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