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Bellator vs. Strikeforce: A head-to-head comparison of the two rosters

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Following the arrival of Scott Coker at Bellator in June 2014, a lot has changed for the promotion. They have emerged as legitimate contenders for the signatures of some of MMA’s biggest stars; most notably Canadian welterweight Rory MacDonald and former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. It’s been years since we’ve had any sort of equal competition for the UFC, and we’re certainly not at that point yet, though recent moves have seen the Viacom-owned California-based promotion make significant strides in the MMA market.

I thought I’d take a look at the roster of the last universally-agreed number-two in MMA, Strikeforce, and see how that roster compares with that of Bellator today. I picked five fighters from each division, based on a combination of star-power and promotional records and predicted whose line-up would come out on top in a clash of the (second-best) titans.

Anyone who was signed with Strikeforce between 2010 and 2012 (the promotion’s peak) is eligible for selection, as is anyone on the current Bellator roster, even if they’ve yet to compete for the promotion.

At heavyweight, Bellator have Vitaly Minakov, Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione, Sergei Kharitonov, and Bobby Lashley. Strikeforce had Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko, Daniel Cormier, Fabrício Werdum, and Josh Barnett

I probably don’t even have to give a decision here. To be honest Strikeforce’s next best 5 heavyweights would probably win by a landslide too. Clear win for Strikeforce, 10-8.

At light-heavyweight, Bellator has Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz, and Wanderlei Silva. Strikeforce had Dan Henderson, Gegard Mousasi, Muhammed Lawal, Rafael Cavalcante, and Lorenz Larkin

King Mo could easily be in both of these lists, but Wanderlei gets the nod due to his career-legacy. I see these groups as relatively evenly-matched, even if Bellator’s quintet are slightly on the older side. Given that Strikeforce trail their Bellator counterparts 3-1 in match-ups between the 10 fighters listed, this one’s a win for Bellator, 10-9.

At middleweight, Bellator has Alexander Shlemenko, Brandon Halsey, Melvin Manhoef, Joe Schilling, and Rafael Carvalho. Strikeforce had Luke Rockhold, Jake Shields, Ronaldo Souza, Cung Le, and Robbie Lawler.

Sorry Tim Kennedy (6-2 with Strikeforce as a middleweight, losing only to Rockhold and Souza) but former UFC champion Robbie Lawler has to make the all-star team, despite his loss to you. Whether I’d opted for Kennedy or Lawler, this one isn’t close. Big win for Strikeforce, 10-8.

At welterweight, Bellator have Rory MacDonald, Andrey Koreshkov, Michael Page, Douglas Lima, and Paul Daley. Strikeforce had Nick Diaz, Tyron Woodley, Paul Daley, Tarec Saffiedine, and Nate Marquardt

It’s close, some judges may disagree on this one but I’ve made my decision. Win for Bellator, 10-9.

At lightweight, Bellator has Michael Chandler, Benson Henderson, Josh Thomson, Patricky Freire, and Melvin Guillard. Strikeforce had Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal, Shinya Aoki, and K.J. Noons

Lightweight has been one of the strongest divisions in both of Scott Coker’s promotions. I’m struggling to pick a winner here… close win for Bellator, 10-9.

So there we go, that’s all five of the divisions in which both promotions have/had crowned champions, and the final scores are in. Strikeforce wins 47-46. Of course this was just a bit of fun, many would judge these groups differently and I’m sure most would provide different selections all together. One thing I would suggest though, is that any similar sort of comparison with the Bellator roster pre-Coker would have been nowhere near as competitive as the one above. Bellator may be on the verge of building something real over there, and it’s worth paying attention to.

Onnit Primal Bells

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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