Bellator MMA will give the sports world its 100th event this coming Friday, as Bellator 100 airs live from the Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. While this card isn't being built up as the major milestone event that it should, there is still a lot on this card that fight fans should not want to miss. At the top of the docket is a rematch between Ben Saunders and Douglas Lima, with the winner becoming the number one contender for the promotion's welterweight championship.
Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders were in this same position back in 2011 when they met with the opportunity to challenge Ben Askren on the line. It didn't take Lima long to establish himself as the better man that night, as he knocked out “Killa B” in the second round of their contest.
From that point both fighters have stayed relevant within Bellator's circular cage. Saunders is 4-1 since, winning three straight after suffering a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Bryan Baker. Lima is riding a three-fight winning streak of his own after being defeated by Askren in April of last year.
Looking at Bellator's roster, it is clear that these two athletes are the best available in this weight class. And with Askren having finished out his promotional contract, sidelined while his contractual issues play out, the pairing of these two men in the tournament final has worked out well for Bellator. They were supposed to have met twice before, but two injuries to Lima prevented the matchup from occurring, and now the timing is almost perfect.
Lima and Saunders are two well-rounded individuals who have the ability to be effective in nearly every aspect of mixed martial arts. They have a relatively similar number of fights, but Lima has proven to be the more effective finisher, as 21 of his 24 victories have come by some form of stoppage. Still, Saunders can finish in his own right, as he has managed 11 stoppages in his 16 wins. In recent bouts each man has shown a penchant for knocking his opponent out, so one should expect these two combatants to be willing to trade in the cage.
It will be interesting to see what kind of strategy Saunders wants to employ for this bout. He's tasted Lima's power in the past and surely doesn't want to end up in that position again. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, but Lima has only been submitted once in his career, and that was back in 2008. Lima has been the bigger and stronger fighter of the two, so it will be difficult for Saunders to score the takedown or control positioning on the ground.
The rematch is nearly two years after the original contest, but the fight may closely resemble the first time Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders tangled. Fans can expect the exchanges to be plentiful and come right off the bat, as neither competitor will shy away from them. Saunders may try to avoid taking serious damage, however, but even if he does, Lima will have racked up enough points to earn a decision victory; if he doesn't, Lima will earn the stoppage in the third round.
The main event of Bellator 100 has the potential to be the kind of exciting matchup that hardcore and mainstream fans alike enjoy. Although the UFC presents an offering of its own in UFC 165 on Saturday night, tuning into Spike TV on Friday night won't be a bad idea for fight fans ready for a stacked weekend of MMA action on back-to-back nights.