Viewer’s Guide to Bellator 96

Can’t get enough MMA in your life? Have an irrational dislike of the UFC and need someone else to watch? Haven’t figured out that Spike TV isn’t the home of the UFC anymore? Well, now you’ve got Bellator 96 to watch tonight and, time to give you, our humble readership, a preview for what could be one of the more interesting fight cards Bellator will put on in 2013.

Upset Special Brewing?

Nearly five years ago Seth Petruzelli took on Kimbo Slice on hours notice, after Ken Shamrock cut himself in a final pre-fight warmup, and shocked a lot of people who didn’t know better by brutalizing Slice and finishing him in under 30 seconds. A flameout in the UFC, he’s found a niche as a guy who’s not athletic enough to succeed at 205 and undersized at heavyweight. He’s got a lot of scalps on his record, though, and is good enough to beat a lot of guys. He’s just not quite UFC caliber at either weight; he’s on a similar career arc as Patrick is Cote on a more historic level. He’s good enough to be among the best of the guys outside of Zuffa but not good enough to actually be in it while Cote is good enough to have a home in the UFC, of course, but Petruzelli is a tough out and a good test for a LHW. So it’s no surprise he’d get Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal in his return to Bellator after a near two year absence.

Lawal is a historic favorite, trending as high as 15:1 by oddsmakers, and no one is giving Petruzelli a chance. Considering he’s pulled off one of the biggest moments in MMA history, don’t count him out. Petruzelli has big time power in his hands and the one thing Lawal has been suspect to in defeat has been a clean shot on the jaw. If he wants to stand and throw with “The Silverback” don’t be surprised if Lawal opts to plank in the cage against his will.

War Machine? Yeah, War Machine

The man who came to prominence as Jon Koppenhaver is back in Bellator, prison stint and knee injury aside, and now it’s time for him to fulfill the promise he’s shown sporadically since he was cut from the UFC. The one-time adult film star has shown that he could be a first rate welterweight, good enough to be a fringe Top 10 level fighter with enough work, and this is his opportunity to step back into the spotlight. He can definitely win this season’s welterweight tournament, and get his shot at Ben Askren, but whether or not his extra-curriculars have cut out a significant portion of his potential is something we’re going to find out.

Heavyweight action? Yeah, heavyweight action

Want to know how bad heavyweights are outside of Zuffa? This is about as good as it gets, outside of the rare prospect or two.

Prospects … plenty of them

The one thing Bellator does exceptionally well is scout talent under 170. There’s a ton of solid prospects on this show, and others, that bear taking a look at.


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