Marius Zaromskis has won five consecutive bouts. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Bellator Fighting Championships rolls on with its seventh season on Friday, when Bellator 78 emanates from the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. Several notable faces are slated to appear on the MTV2-broadcast main draw, which showcases the semifinals of Bellator’s ongoing welterweight tournament.
Here is what to watch for at Bellator 78:
‘Spartan’ vs. ‘Whitemare’
Color me surprised if somebody does not hit the canvas in this one.
Aggression will be the name of the game when Andrey Koreshkov collides with Marius Zaromskis. Neither man showed an interest in pacing himself in the quarterfinals, and I expect the same will hold true when they lock horns in the semis. Also, if you like spinning back fists, you should probably shine up your dancing shoes.
Koreshkov was viewed by many as the tournament favorite heading into this competition and justifiably so. The Russian holds dynamite in both hands and possess the nerve to pull the trigger from just about anywhere. With that said, his level of fatigue in the third round of his Bellator 74 meeting with Jordan Smith should cause his supporters concern, especially when “Spartan” is facing an opponent like Zaromskis.
The 32-year-old Lithuanian striker put forth the best performance of his Bellator career in his quarterfinal matchup with Nordine Taleb, dropping the former Ring of Combat champion twice en route to snatching a hard-fought unanimous decision to advance to the semis.
The ex-Dream champion should look to take advantage of Koreshkov’s tendency to hold his guard fairly low, a habit that could result in a bout of unconsciousness for the Russian. Likewise, Zaromskis has been known to leave himself quite open in the past when pressing the attack. Math was not my strong suit in school, but I reckon these factors add up to a forthcoming knockout of some kind.
There is no doubt that the former welterweight king looked razor-sharp against Jim Wallhead in the quarterfinals, using his snappy jab and physical superiority to consistently beat the Brit to the punch and tire him out in the clinch.
Now, Good has been paired with RusFighters product Michail Tsarev, who tapped Tim Welch in the tournament’s first round. There is no disguising what is plain to see: “The Lonely Wolf” will be thoroughly outmatched athletically, as is the case for just about everybody paired with the “Cyborg.” Luckily for the Russian product, athleticism is not what got him here. Rather, his aggression, submission acumen and resilience must continue to deliver if he hopes to best the former champion.
Can Tsarev drag Good to the mat or catch him with a submission during a scramble, or will the New Yorker take one step closer to reclaiming his throne?
Return of ‘The Predator’
It takes heart to get back in the cage after suffering the kind of knockout that Brian Rogers sustained at the hands of Andreas Spang at Bellator 66.
After hurting Spang in both the first and second rounds, Rogers appeared to be in control of their Season 6 middleweight tournament semifinal until Spang changed all that with one perfectly placed left hook that put Rogers on his back and left him wide open for a fight-ending Hulk smash.
Despite that bout’s result, fans should not forget Rogers’ prior resume. The man was a knockout machine, recording eight KOs in nine career victories. Recall his brutal finishes of Victor O’Donnell and Vitor Vianna, as well as his seriously entertaining bout with Alexander Shlemenko, the man whom I now regard as Bellator’s best middleweight.
Can “The Predator” return to his winning ways against promotional debutant Dominique Steele?
Season 6 featherweight tournament winner Daniel Straus has presumably taken a fight with Alvin Robinson to stay warm while he waits for his title shot to pan out, but is it a smart move?
Granted, regardless of his performance, Straus should receive a crack at the belt after Season 4 winner Patricio Freire, who will ideally cash in his title shot sometime before Armageddon kills us all.
Straus should certainly be favored heading into this bout with Robinson, who won the Aggression MMA featherweight title 13 months ago in his most recent fight to date. With that said, Bellator definitely could have given Straus an easier tune-up fight than Robinson, who fought Kenny Florian, Jorge Gurgel, Mark Bocek and Nate Diaz during his 1-3 stint with the UFC from 2007 to 2008.
Will Straus come out sharp, looking to send a message to Curran and Freire, or will he suffer a letdown after his Season 6 tournament win?