What to Watch For: Bellator 147

By Brian Knapp Nov 30, 2015
Pursuit of the same prize has placed Georgi Karakhanyan and Daniel Weichel on a path to inescapable confrontation.

In what has the hallmarks of a potential title eliminator at 145 pounds, Karakhanyan will meet Weichel in the Bellator 147 co-headliner on Friday at the San Jose State University Event Center in San Jose, Calif. The winner could emerge as the No. 1 contender for the Bellator MMA featherweight championship that currently rests upon the shoulder of Daniel Straus.

Karakhanyan has won 10 of his last 11 fights and last appeared at Bellator 132 in January, when he choked Bubba Jenkins unconscious with a first-round guillotine. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, the 30-year-old Millennia MMA representative has already held titles inside the World Series of Fighting and Tachi Palace Fights organizations. Karakhanyan has delivered more than half (14) of his 24 professional wins by submission.

Weichel, meanwhile, has compiled a 7-1 record across his past eight appearances and last competed at Bellator 138 on June 19, when he was on the receiving end of a knockout loss to then-champion Patricio Freire. The former M-1 Global titleholder has not suffered consecutive defeats since he lost back-to-back bouts to Dan Hardy and Peter Irving in 2008. Weichel sports 21 submissions among his 35 career victories, 10 of them via rear-naked choke. Wins over Pat Curran, Desmond Green, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev and Dennis Siver anchor his resume.

The Karakhanyan-Weichel showdown is but one reason to catch Bellator 147. Here are four more:

Related » Bellator 147 Fight Card

Punk Rock

Josh Thomson believes he has at least one more championship run left in him.

The former Strikeforce titleholder will make his second appearance inside the Bellator cage opposite the once-beaten Pablo Villaseca in the main event. Thomson submitted Mike Bronzoulis with a third-round arm-triangle choke in his Bellator 142 promotional debut on Sept. 19, as he rebounded from three straight decision losses to Benson Henderson, Bobby Green and Tony Ferguson in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The 37-year-old American Kickboxing Academy mainstay remains one of the toughest outs in MMA, as he has not been finished since being victimized by Yves Edwards’ running head kick more than a decade ago.

Villaseca, 28, has spent the majority of his career on the local circuit. A split decision loss to Bobby Cooper at Bellator 139 in June remains the only blemish on his ledger.

Familiar Foes

Derek Anderson was an undefeated but unproven prospect the last time he saw Patricky Freire. The stakes seem even higher for their rematch.

Anderson finds himself dealing with adversity for the first time in his career, having lost twice in three outings. The 25-year-old Team Xplode MMA export last fought at Bellator 141 on Aug. 28, when he wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against Brett Primus. An offensive-minded lightweight, Anderson has six first-round finishes to his credit, including 26-, 48- and 66-seconds wipeouts.

Freire has won four of his five fights since his unanimous decision loss to Anderson in September 2013. A two-time Bellator tournament finalist, “Pitbull” took a three-round verdict from former Gladiator Challenge champion Saad Awad three months ago. Freire has made frequent appearances on Bellator highlight reels, from a flying knee knockout on Toby Imada to a blistering stoppage of David Rickels.

Gone Prospecting

Mario Soto has graduated from MMA’s regional scene.

The Team Alpha Male prospect won his first five fights, all by submission, before a decision loss to Sinjen Smith at a West Coast Fighting Championship event interrupted his momentum. The pause was brief, and Soto found his way back to the winner’s circle at Tachi Palace Fights 21 a little more than a year ago, as he disposed of Dominic Clark with second-round punches. The 28-year-old has not fought since and will enter his Bellator debut against Adam Piccolotti on the heels of a lengthy layoff.

The unbeaten Piccolotti, 27, has recorded back-to-back wins since arriving in Bellator in February. He submitted Salvador Becerra with a second-round neck crank at Bellator 142 on Sept. 19. Piccolotti holds the rank of black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and trains out of Raul Castillo Martial Arts in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Brian Rogers was trending upward in 2011, when he entered his Bellator Season 5 middleweight tournament semifinal with Alexander Shlemenko on the back of seven consecutive first-round finishes. However, he succumbed to second-round knees from the Russian spin master, the setback sending him into a downward spiral from which he has yet to recover.

A loser in four of his past five bouts, Rogers will next try his hand at 205 pounds, as he takes on Virgil Zwicker as part of the main card. A Team Quest export, the 33-year-old Zwicker owns a 3-1-1 mark in Bellator and has fought previously in Strikeforce and KSW. He made his presence felt at Bellator 137 in May, when he cut down Razak Al-Hassan with first-round punches.


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