BELLATOR 165 “Chandler vs. Henderson” PRIMER – Ecochard’s Preview & Predictions for the Spike TV live event line-up

By Matthew Ecochard, MMATorch contributor


While the UFC has two events this Saturday, Bellator will also be hosting a card with some intriguing match-ups on it. The main card starts at 9:00 p.m. EST on Spike TV and will be headlined by Michael Chandler vs. Benson Henderson. The following are predictions for the main card:

Bellator Main Card

Sheila Padilla (2-0) vs. Keri Melendez (0-0) – Women’s Flyweight Bout:

An intriguing bout featuring the pro MMA debut of Gilbert Melendez’s wife Keri Melendez taking on the Bellator debuting Sheila Padilla. Keri Melendez has been a longtime Muay Thai fighter and recently a kickboxer and is now venturing into MMA. Her standup is very solid and if she has trained her wrestling enough with her husband she could be a very solid MMA competitor. Sheila Padilla has two pro victories so far against less than stellar competition, but has won two decisions. Her wrestling seemed to be her go to against Jessica Birch, so look for her to likely do the same against Melendez. It didn’t seem like her wrestling was particularly impressive so Melendez should be able to light her up and keep her away.

Prediction: Keri Melendez via TKO Round 2

Brandon Girtz (14-4) vs. Adam Piccolotti (8-0) – Lightweight Bout

A lightweight matchup brings us the undefeated Adam Piccolotti taking on a strong competitor in Brandon Girtz. Piccolotti is 4-0 inside the Bellator cage with three of them coming via submission. He is capable of standing up, but loves to rush for the takedown and jumps all over the competition. This is a solid tough matchup for him to try to make his way towards a lightweight shot in Bellator. Brandon Girtz is similarly aggressive and physical which should make this a closely contested fight. Whichever fighter can bully their opponent will be able to take over. Girtz is the larger man, but Piccolotti should be the more technical fighter. It’s so close, but I’d swing with Piccolotti’s skill level.

Prediction: Adam Piccolotti via Submission Round 2

Francis Carmont (25-11) vs. Linton Vassell (16-5) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Linton Vassell looks to make a name for himself off of Francis Carmont in this featured bout. Francis Carmont is an ex UFC fighter with a very high level ground game, but when he can’t get the fight to the ground he normally doesn’t have the best of luck on the feet. His submission game is strong, but sometimes he is more than happy to just grind out a gritty win. Linton Vassell has looked fairly good throughout his Bellator career, only losing to Emanuel Newton and King Mo (Muhammed Lawal) and even avenging that loss to Newton. Vassell is primarily a grappler as well, but it isn’t as strong as Carmont’s. Keeping the bout standing should be Vassell’s main task, but Carmont will likely be too much for Vassell to handle.

Prediction: Francis Carmont via Unanimous Decision

Fernando Gonzalez (25-13) vs. Michael Page (11-0) – Welterweight Bout

Undefeated star Michael “Venom” Page will be taking on another veteran of the sport in Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez provides a very real challenge to Michael Page as he has looked really good since returning to Bellator and is on a five fight win streak. Gonzalez loves to stand and box with his opponents but will go for a clinch based takedown if need be. Staying standing up with Michael Page is probably not the best idea. Page’s striking is next level, coming from point fighting Kickboxing and Sport Karate background, his style is a flashier version of Stephen Thompson. He hasn’t been tested much in the wrestling zone yet and he probably won’t be in this bout. Look for a fun standup bout for the round or so that it lasts.

Prediction: Michael Page via TKO Round 1

(C) Michael Chandler (15-3) vs. Benson Henderson (24-6) – Bellator Lightweight Championship Bout (5 Rounds):

A very interesting matchup for Michael Chandler comes in the form of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. This bout will allow Chandler to see where he is at in the overall lightweight rankings of the world. For Ben Henderson this bout represents a chance to really prove that he deserves to still be in there with the best after a couple of unimpressive performances in Bellator so far.

Michael Chandler comes from a NCAA Division I background and initially relied heavily on that and his submissions. Eventually Chandler really came into his own with boxing skills and started to knock fighters out brutally and finish fights in explosive fashion. Chandler hit a snag in the form of a rematch with Eddie Alvarez and back to back bouts with Will Brooks. Since his three losses in a row, he has rebounded and looked very impressive once again and regained the lightweight belt. Against a man like Henderson who has a good wrestling pedigree of his own, Chandler should try to keep the pressure and pace on Henderson.

Former UFC champion Benson Henderson will look to get his first belt in another organization since WEC in 2010. The Taekwondo style of Henderson mixed in with his takedowns, takedown defense and BJJ have kept him at the highest level of the game for the last six years. He has struggled against larger competitors but he and Chandler are virtually the same height and have a close reach as well. Henderson will most likely look for some leg kicks and feel him out on the feet. The fight on paper is so evenly matched it will be very hard to tell who comes out victorious. Michael Chandler seems to be on more of a streak and has more left in his career at this point. Henderson just stated he might only fight for another year, which leads me to believe his heart isn’t completely in it anymore which would spell trouble on Saturday for him.

Prediction: Michael Chandler via Submission Round 2

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