4. Justin Gaethje vs. Melvin Guillard
What looked to be an interesting lightweight title fight is now what we’re hoping ends as a one-sided beating as Justin Gaethe faces Melvin Guillard. Guillard missed weight for the second time since joining up with World Series of Fighting. This marks the third time Guillard has missed weight in his professional career, a distinction he holds along with greasing and testing positive for cocaine. Gaethje is 12-0 and successfully defended the WSOF lightweight belt against Nick Newell.
3. Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt
Mark Hunt is a Cinderella story if you like your Cinderella stories involving 40 year old, 300 pound Samoan kickboxers trying to cram their calloused feet into the glass slipper of UFC championship gold. Loser of six straight, Hunt was once on his way out of the UFC’s door. Many speculated he was completely done. A knockout win over Chris Tuchscherer granted Hunt a contract extension. He’s since beaten top division talent such as Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve, and most recently, he blasted Roy Nelson, becoming the second person to KO him. Five of those seven contests have had ‘of the Night’ honors.
Opposing him is another competitor that many considered done. Fabricio Werdum went 2-2 during his first run in the UFC. He shocked the world when he became the first man to defeat the legendary Fedor Emelianenko in 28 fights. Werdum returned to UFC competition after the Strikeforce merger and defeated Roy Nelson, an aging Antonio Nogueira, and most recently thrashed Travis Browne for the better part of five rounds. On paper, he’s the clear favorite to win this one. His wrestling and BJJ skills are beyond what Hunt is used to facing. However, Hunt was able to fight another large heavyweight known for his grappling prowess, Antonio Silve, to a draw. The fight has just enough of a wild card element to make it anyone’s contest.
2. Jessica Aguilar vs. Kalindra Faria
Jessica Aguilar and Kalindra Faria are two of the best strawweights that you will find outside of the UFC and Invicta. According to the Unified WMMA Rankings, Aguilar is actually the best. Aguilar advanced to the semi-finals of the Bellator 115 lb. women’s tournament before dropping a close splitter to Zoila Frausto Gurgel. She’s since racked up a 9 win streak including a win over Carla Esparza, the number one seed in The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 tournament.
Opposing her is Brazil’s Kalindra Faria. Faria is a consistently ranked top five fighter riding 11 straight and finishing 6. She most recently fought for XFC and is competing despite a contract dispute that is leading to some inter-promotional lawyering. Both of these ladies are lightning quick and brutal on the ground. Aguilar is good at ducking under shots, grinding for takedowns, and maintaining pressure on her opponent. Faria uses footwork and speed to set up her strikes and trips. She’s not bad on the ground either, as she is able to at least neutralize her opponent from the bottom. From the top she’s grueling with her ground and pound and sets up armbars beautifully. On paper, this one has the potential to be the best of the list.
1. Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks II
Will Brooks and Michael Chandler put on a fight of the night worthy performance during their first contest at Bellator’s first pay-per-view, Bellator 120. The interim title fight was not without controversy. Chandler, the former champion, was coming off of his first career loss, a split decision to Eddie Alvarez that ended his reign as champ. Going into the fight, he was the heavy odds and fan favorite. It was a similar feeling to the one we had going into Barao vs. Dillashaw. We knew who was supposed to win.
Brooks, the season 9 lightweight tournament winner, was outpointed for the first two rounds by Chandler. Throughout much of the first two rounds, Chandler was able to take Brooks down but unable to capitalize on the top position. Brooks came back big in the third and handily took the fourth as well. Brooks continued to dominate well into the later stages of the fifth round and despite getting hurt late in the round, he earned a split decision to the delight of pretty much nobody.
Shortly after the fight, Bellator decided to amend its rules to say that any former champion could challenge for a title, and they decided to use it against a guy who just shit all over the biggest trilogy Bellator had going for itself. Normally when a champ returns from injury, the promotion unifies the belts by having the interim champ fight the actual champ. Bellator was doing everything in its power to bypass this. Brooks would not even be fighting for his own belt if Eddie Alvarez didn’t abandon ship for the UFC earlier this year.
Regardless of the politics, their first go was a fun and scrappy showcase between two of Bellator’s more promising talents. This one should be taking the main event slot, but it will be playing co-main to the much-hyped Bonnar-Ortiz showdown.