This coming weekend is a set to be a busy one for us here at Capes, Cages & Chairs with 3 big MMA and pro wrestling events, all kicking off with Bellator 174 on Friday live from Thackerville Oklahoma. Women’s MMA has come into it’s own and Bellator 174 will mark the 5th event since December to be headlined by a women’s match as Bellator will crown their inaugural featherweight champion. With 4 fights on the main card, this isn’t the biggest event in recent Bellator history, but it will certainly be historic. Let’s get into it.
Steve Gracie (7-1) vs. Joe Taimanglo (23-7-1)
Taimanglo is 4-1 in his last five fights, losing his last fight versus Darrion Caldwell via unanimous decision back in December. He’s primarily a submission specialist but has shown knockout power in the past. As for Gracie, unfortunately Bellator doesn’t list quite as much in-depth information about him except to say that his only loss came via decision back in March of last year and he’s yet to record a submission victory. From what I can gather this looks to be a contrast of styles with Gracie seemingly wanting to keep things in the stand-up and Taimanglo favouring the grappling approach. Gracie will have a 7 inch height advantage and is 7 years younger than his opponent. My best guess is that if Gracie can keep things on the feet and uses his reach advantage effectively he will win either via KO or decision.
Fernando Gonzalez (25-14) vs. Brandon Girtz (14-5)
The welterweight feature fight pits Gonzales, who is coming of a tough split decision loss against Michael Page back in November against former NCAA Division 2 All-American wrestler Girtz. Both men are coming off of losses that put an end to their winning streaks of 5 and 3 in-a-row respectively. Gonzalez is a former kickboxer, but looks to have a fairly well-rounded fighting style, while Girtz is much more submission oriented with only two of his wins coming via KO. Neither man has fought since November at Bellator 165 so they should both be well rested. There’s no real disparity in age or height/reach with these two guys and to me it ultimately looks like whoever is able to execute their game plan best is likely to be the winner. Both of these guys need a win to get back in the welterweight title picture against Douglas Lima so I hope we see some action in this one. To me this fight is a coin flip.
Kendall Grove (23-16) vs. Chris Honeycutt (9-1)
The co-headliner is a middleweight contest that has to feature one of the biggest height differences that I can remember seeing in a long time. Grove is 8 inches taller than Honeycutt. Grove shot to fame when he won the middleweight competition on season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter and signed a six figure contract with the UFC back in 2006. He’d remain with the UFC until 2011 and this will be his 8th fight with Bellator since joining in 2013. He’s gone 4-3 in his fights for Bellator. Honeycutt is on a 3 fight winning streak with his last fight coming in December in a unanimous decision win against Ben Reiter. Grove is 6 years older than Honeycutt, but he’s also the more well-rounded fighter, as despite his wrestling pedigree Honeycutt seems to prefer to throw punches rather than wrestle. I would really like it if Bellator listed the odds for the fight on their website, they don’t and I can’t find them anywhere else for some reason. Honeycutt has knockout power, but he’s going to have to work hard to get in on Grove and once he does he has to be weary of Grove’s jiu-jitsu. I feel like Grove could fairly easily win this one, but I’m gonna say Honeycutt knocks him out. I think this is probably the match I’m most excited to watch on this card.
Julia Budd (9-2) vs. Marloes Coenen (23-7) Women’s Featherweight Championship
This fight has the potential to be everything that the Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie fight for the UFC featherweight championship wasn’t. These ladies at the #3 and #2 ranked 145-pound female fighters in the world according to the Unified Women’s MMA rankings. Budd is on a 7-fight winning streak and Coenen is a former Strikeforce bantamweight champion. This fight was originally scheduled to take place back in May at Bellator 155 so these ladies are more than ready for eachother. The experience advantage clearly goes to Coenen as she’s been fighting professionally for 10 years longer than Budd and has had high profile matches against elite female fighters including Miesha Tate and Cyborg. She’s also had more championship fights and has had 3 fights go into the 4th round. Age and height/reach shouldn’t be a factor in this fight as there isn’t a big disparity between the two women. Coenen is a submission specialist with 17 of her wins coming via submission compared to just 1 from Budd. Budd’s only losses have come to Rhonda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, but they were both in less that 40 seconds of the first round. This is another fight where I think that experience will be a big factor. Unlike with the Grove vs. Honeycutt fight I think that Coenen will use her grappling and just try to wear Budd down and look for a submission. We could conceivably have the UFC and Bellator featherweight champions both be from the Netherlands come Friday night.
That’s it from us. You watching? What do you think will be the fight of the night? Let us know in the comments.
Image from www.bellator.spike.com