Bellator MMA makes its way back to Thackerville, Oklahoma for Bellator 174. The main event takes us to the women’s side as Julia Budd takes on Marloes Coenen for the inaugural Bellator featherweight title. For the co-main event we go back to the men’s side for a middleweight battle between Kendall Grove and Mike Rhodes.
The four fight main card rounds out with Fernando Gonzalez taking on Brandon Girtz in the welterweight division and in the featherweight division Steve Garcia takes on veteran Joe Taimanglo.
The prelims will stream live on Bellator.com starting at 6 PM CT with Spike TV taking over at 8 PM CT for the main card.
Julia Budd (9-2) vs. Marloes Coenen (23-7) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Julia Budd has a 9-2 career record with the two losses coming against two of the best bantamweights in Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes. Budd also holds a win over current UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. She enters her fight against Coenen looking for her eighth straight win.
MMA veteran Marloes Coenen is 1-1 over her previous two fights. She submitted Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 141 but was then submitted herself by Alexis Dufresne at Bellator 155. Coenen was expected to win the fight against Dufresne, but instead didn’t look good at all. If she resembles the fighter we saw at Bellator 155 then it’s going to be a very short night for her.
I expect Julia Budd to keep distance and keep the fight standing. Normally I would say Coenen has the advantage on the ground but after her latest performance I favor Budd there as well. More than half of Julia Budd’s wins have come by decision so I don’t expect the most exciting fight, but I do expect her to win.
Pick: Budd by decision
Kendall Grove (23-16) vs. Mike Rhodes (10-4) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Mike Rhodes replaces Chris Honeycutt on short notice to take on MMA veteran Kendall Grove on Friday. Rhodes and the UFC parted ways after he amassed a record of 0-3 in back 2014. Since then he is 4-0 including winning the Victory FC middleweight title. He’ll look for his fifth straight win when he makes his Bellator debut.
Longtime UFC veteran Kendall Grove will look to get himself back into title contention with a win. He was on a two fight winning streak until he was stopped by Alexander Shlemenko in the second round at Bellator 162. 17 of Grove’s 23 wins are either by submission or TKO/KO, while on the flipside, he’s been finished 11 times out of his 16 losses.
I’m not quite sure how much Kendall Grove has left in the tank at this point in his career. If Honeycutt was still his opponent, my pick would be Honeycutt with confidence. With Mike Rhodes taking the fight with less than a week’s notice it’s hard to predict what we’ll see from him. Grove is on the downside of his career and I don’t have confidence in his chin, so with little confidence, I’m going with Rhodes to pull off the upset on short notice.
Pick: Rhodes by TKO
Fernando Gonzalez (25-14) vs. Brandon Girtz (14-5) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Brandon Girtz has had enough of the lightweight division and makes his debut at welterweight on Friday. He steps in for the injured Andrey Koreshkov when he takes on Fernando Gonzalez. Girtz was on a three fight win streak until he dropped a decision to Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 165. Of his 14 career wins 8 have been by submission and 4 by KO/TKO. What Girtz gives up in size, he more than makes up in speed and quickness.
The last we saw Fernando Gonzalez was at Bellator 165 where he lost a split decision to Michael Page in one of the most boring fights I can remember. Leading up to the Page contest, Gonzalez had won five fights in a row since joining Bellator, including wins against Karo Parisyan and Gilbert Smith.
This is another tough fight to predict due to Girtz moving up in weight class. Gonzalez will have the size advantage so the question is how will Girtz deal with it? Girtz taking the fight on short notice also favors Gonzalez. While I expect Girtz to give Fernando Gonzalez all he can handle, I think he’s going to come up short on the judge’s scorecards. Win or lose expect Brandon Girtz to go back to the lightweight division.
Pick: Gonzalez by decision
Steve Garcia (7-1) vs. Joe Taimanglo (23-7-1) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Joe Taimanglo scored a major upset by submitting Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 159, only to lose a decision in their rematch at Bellator 167. The Bellator vet has been on a nice run winning 14 out of his last 17 fights. His first fight against Caldwell proved his status as one of Bellator’s best bantamweights. While he doesn’t possess big power, he is a threat with submissions. Of his 23 career wins only 5 have been by KO/TKO, with 12 coming by submission.
Steve Garcia is 4-1 under the Bellator banner. He split his last two fights. After dropping a decision to Ricky Turcios at Bellator 151, Garcia bounced back and decisioned Ronnie Lawrence at Bellator 162. Garcia has the ability to finish as 5 of his 7 pro career fights ended by KO/TKO.
There’s no shame in losing to Darrion Caldwell who is one of the best up and coming bantamweights in MMA. I think Taimanglo’s win in their first fight gave him a ton of confidence. He’s the more well-rounded fighter and has more experience than Garcia. I expect Taimanglo to get back in to the win column on Friday night.
Pick: Taimanglo by submission
Prelims Quick Look
Rivera over Thomison
Pfister over Gary
Wren over Pizzolato
Ducote eover Collins
Lovato over Carter
Dufresne over Holloway
Patterson over Witt
Enjoy the fights!
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS BELLATOR PREVIEW: BELLATOR 173 PREVIEW: Grocke’s Preview & Predictions for the Bellator/BAMMA 29 co-promoted event with McGeary vs. McDermott