Another Friday is here, and with the end of the week trailing behind it today brings us another solid offering from Bellator. Bellator 61 rolls into Bossier City, Louisiana, and features the opening round of the Season 6 middleweight tournament. With tourney-veterans Vitor Vianna and Brian Rogers, as well as former UFC fighter Maiquel Falcao, tonight’s fantastic fight card promises some exciting and violent action!

Before we get started here, my god does Bellator ever go crazy with where they place their fights on the card, so please note the order the fights appear here is almost certainly not the order in which Bellator will have them. I mean, come on, Alexandre Bezarra fighting in a tournament bout on the preliminary card last week? What was what?!

Moving on, it’s time to get down to business and roll with the punches. Here is my breakdown of Bellator 61:

Eric Prindle vs. Thiago Santos has been pushed back to next week’s Bellator 62 due to Prindle coming down with the flu. It’s also been reported that Santos weighed nearly 300 pounds on the day of weigh-ins, so there’s that, though no confirmation of that has been offered up by any officials (unlike Prindle’s health). Falcao vs. Norman Paraisy has been promoted to the new main event on the card.

Jeremy Myers (3-3) vs. Jason Sampson (8-1)

Myers is coming off of two straight losses and faces a tough challenge in 8-1 Sampson. I don’t know much about these two, but on paper Sampson takes this by decision or submission.

Winner – Jason Sampson defeats Jeremy Myers via Unanimous Decision

Derrick Krantz (10-5) vs. Eric Scallan (10-3)

Krantz has never won a fight that has gone the distance. With five knockouts and five submissions to his credit, “D-Rock” is a finisher. Win or lose, he leaves it all in the cage. On the other side of the cage, Scallan has never scored, or been on the receiving end of, a knockout. With seven submissions in ten wins, this man loves to take the fight to the ground. I see this fight as a toss-up. Both are capable of finishing, but should Scallan avoid the striking of Krantz and get this fight to the ground he should take it.

Winner – Eric Scallan defeats Derrick Krantz via Submission Round 2

Trey Houston (8-0) vs. Jeremiah Riggs (7-5)

Undefeated “That Just Happened” Houston has never gone the distance. He has slick submissions and half of his wins have come in the first round. Riggs, most famous for wooing Daisy De La Hoya on VH1 as well as ALMOST winning WWE Tough Enough and then whining about it, is on a five-fight winning streak. I believe that run comes to an end tonight, and he’ll be cast away from Bellator just as we was from the WWE.

Trey Houston defeats Jeremiah Riggs via Submission Round 1

Brent Taylor (0-0) vs. Josh Quayhagen (2-0)

Taylor makes his professional debut after going 2-1 as an amateur. Much like some previous fighters on the card, there’s not much known about him, but he appears to be a sufficient enough striker to have both of his wins by TKO. Quayhagen shocked many by defeating Cosmo Alexandre in his professional debut. Cosmo was a hell of a striker, and Quayhagen passed the test against him, I expect he does the same here.

Winner – Josh Quayhagen defeats Brent Taylor via Unanimous Decision

Giva Santana (17-1) vs. Bruno Santos (12-0)

In the first of four middleweight tournament bouts, “The Arm Collector” returns to Bellator and hopes to add some more limbs to his collection. With 13 of his 17 victories coming by Armbar, including a staggering  ten straight om the first round earlier in his career, the decorated grappler attacks from every angle, and if he gets your arm you’re best off just to tap.

Santos is undefeated with ten of his wins coming by decision. The grappling heavy, grinding Brazilian is still young but has a lot of potential, especially as his striking and submission skills improve.

I think Santos can take down Santana, but I don’t think he should. Giva will attack from any and every angle, and at even the slightest sign of ground and pound he’s giving up his arm for Santana to potentially latch onto.

Winner – Giva Santana defeats Bruno Santos via Submission Round 1

Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (15-1) vs. Victor O’Donnell (11-3)

Despite sneaky legal games being played by M-1 Global, “Slava” (i.e. Vasilevsky) enters the Bellator middleweight tournament on the strength of a fourteen-fight winning streak. The well-rounded Russian has only been defeated once in his career and has the tools to give any fighter a headache.

O’Donnell looks for redemption following a poor performance against Rogers at Bellator 50. The submission-savvy Team Vision fighter has all but two of his wins coming by submission and has notable wins over Forrest Petz and Rafael Natal.

“Slava” has the clear striking advantage in this fight and should be more than capable of handling himself on the ground if need be. This fight features two tough-as-hell middleweights, and I don’t see either succumbing to anything.

Winner – Vyacheslav Vasilevsky defeats Victor O’Donnell via Unanimous Decision

Brian Rogers (8-3) vs. Vitor Vianna (12-2-1)

One of the more exciting middleweights in the tournament, Rogers always comes to fight. The former Strikeforce and two-time Bellator fighter is out to rebound from a loss to Alexander Shlemenko. Known for his violent striking, Rogers will definitely try to impose his will on his opponent and look for that oh-so-satisfying knockout.

Vianna was a finalist in the last middleweight tournament in the promotion and is looking to take home the whole thing this season. With some great striking and submissions, Vianna can bring it to just about anyone.

Rogers could very well win this fight, but he’s going to need to do it early if he wants to secure the victory. I expect the more cautious Vianna to weather any early storm, get the fight to the ground, and pull off a slick submission.

Winner – Vitor Vianna defeats Brian Rogers via Submission Round 2

Maiquel Falcao (28-4 1 NC) vs. Norman Paraisy (10-1-1 1 NC)

In the new main event, Falcao, a one-time UFC fighter and Brazilian phenom, makes his Bellator debut and is widely regarded as one of the favorites in this tournament. With 23 knockouts in his career, you do NOT want to be on the end of this man’s fists. A fantastic striker with sufficient grappling abilities, Falcao has the skills to pay the bills and he hopes to be a little richer after this fight.

The Frenchman, Paraisy, is no slouch himself. With victories over Paulo Filho and Jack Mason to his credit, the 25-year old is very well-rounded although he seems to favor submissions ever so slightly.

The only thing in question here is Paraisy’s heart. He has been broken down before and Falcao tends to give fighters all they can handle mentally/physically. Falcao will likely take control at some point in the first round, and if he doesn’t end it in that round he’ll end it in the second.

Winner – Maiquel Falcao defeats Norman Paraisy via TKO Round 2

Overall, I believe this card will be awesome. I even think with the heavyweight tournament finals being postponed it is even better than it would have been since fans will see more technique on display. The action goes down at 7:00 PM EST on before for the evening’s highlighted bouts head over to MTV2 (or in Canada) an hour later. Enjoy the fights!