For 25 minutes, the champion Askren put Lima on his back and made him regret ever winning the tournament. To put it simply, he made challenger Douglas Lima look awful. Lima’s takedown defense was wretched and it was infuriating to watch him be taken down round after round.
Other news from the night saw Travis Marx and Hiroshi Nakamura advance in the bantamweight quarterfinal bout, as well as Marlon Sandro wins a narrow split decision over Bezerra to earn his shot in the finals.
Now we look ahead of to Bellator 65, taking place from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Alexis Vila (11-1-0) vs. Luis Nogueira (12-2-0)
After a disappointing loss in the finals of last season’s Bellator Bantamweight tournament, American Top Team’s Alexis Vila is looking to prove he’s worth of a world title opportunity against Luis Nogueira. Vila, a 1996 Olympic Bronze Medalist for Cuba in wrestling, has never rested on his wrestling ability. Instead, the tenacious Cuban has developed a boxing game few in the division can compete with. Being a dominate boxer and being able to control the fight makes Vila a wrecking ball of talent in this tournament.
That isn’t to sell Luis Nogueira short however. The 27 year old has been tearing it up on the Brazilian scene for a couple years and was a dominator in Shooto Brazil. His ability to finish both on the feet and on the mat makes him dually lethal.
At 41, it’s only a matter of time until Vila’s age finally catches up with him. So far he’s looked great, but we’ve seen it with all the greats over the years. It’s now or never for him.
Nogueira will have length and speed on his side in this one, both of which he’ll want to use. He will need to strike from the outside and keep his feet moving. If he’s a stationary target, the strength and size advantage of Vila will be too much.
I’m taking Vila in this one because of his power and grappling ability. He’s a tough guy to finish and I don’t think Nogueira is up to the task.
Ed West (17-6-0) vs. Marcos Galvao (10-5-0)
Like Vila, West’s last loss was against last season’s tournament winner Eduardo Dantas. The two put on a solid performance and ended via close split decision. Now West is back and determined to prove he’s worth of another chance at champion Zach Makovsky.
Marcos Galvao is one of the original bantamweights in mixed martial arts. Although his record is not pristine, Galvao has fought many of the world’s best bantamweights over the years. His entertaining close decision loss to Joe Warren (many think he won) rejuvenated his career and now he’s being given a chance to prove his worth.
I expect Ed West to be the more well rounded fighter, and he should be able to out strike Galvao. With both being such great jiu-jitsu practitioners, I expect this one to stay on the feet.
Mike Corey (12-2-1) vs. Daniel Strauss (18-4-0)
Here we have the second semi-final bout as Daniel Strauss takes on Mike Corey for an opportunity to face Marlon Sandro.
I undersold Corey in the first round. I didn’t think he would out grapple Mann the way he did, and I certainly didn’t think he’d be victorious.
Maybe I do not learn from my mistakes, or maybe I think that much of Daniel Strauss, but I again think Mike Corey gets beat easily in this one. Strauss has the wrestling prowess to control where the bout takes place and the striking ability to pick Corey apart.
Zach Makovsky (14-2-) vs. Eduardo Dantas (13-2-0)
Outside of the UFC, this is about as fun of a bantamweight as you’re going to find.
At only 19, Dantas traveled to Japan and defeated arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time in Shinichi Kojima. Since then, things have been all uphill for the Brazilian. At 21, Dantas challenged for the Shooto World 132lb. Championship, coming up just short due to a point reduction. On top of all this, three victories in Bellator again have Dantas lined up for his second world title opportunity, and he`s only 23. To say the sky is the limit might be an understatement.
Zach Makovsky as well hasn’t done too bad for himself before the age of 30. The Elite XC veteran is a world champion grappler and is on an eight fight winning streak dating all the way back to 2009. He`s begun to put together solid striking as well, which could be the difference in this one.
I’m not picking a winner in this one. It’s an amazing fight and should be a back and forth war.