Follow Knuckle Junkies

Jim Range | Knuckle Junkies photo

Road to Dynamite : Round Table - Part 2

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

A parade of area fighters will march to the center of the Scottrade Center where either a cage or a ring awaits Friday at Bellator 157: Dynamite 2.

The preliminary card is packed with local talent and the main card has homegrown participants as well.

In all, some four hours of action, three of those on national television, will take place in a combat sports bonanza featuring professional MMA and kickboxing.

Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 airs on Spike TV at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT. The preliminary draw will stream on beginning at approximately 6:30 ET/5:30 CT. The event is headlined by a heavyweight bout between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Satoshi Ishii. compiled a round table of sorts to wax on some of the more prominent and interesting bouts featuring local talent. The round table consisted of Sid Gee (cutman/coach), Matt Frazier (Creative Director Knuckle Junkies) Travis Brown (MMA Wreckage), Craig Nasello (cutman/coach), and Rob Donaker (Shamrock FC matchmaker) giving their thoughts and insights about some of matchups. Knuckle Junkies Editor in Chief Brett Auten will then make his predictions for select fights. KJ will also add a hodgepodge of notes and quotes on other bouts on the undercard.

On Monday, the panel weighed in on Michael Chandler's lightweight title, Kevin Engel being a heavy favorite, and more. You can read that article HERE.

So take a deep breath. There's a lot left to digest:

Rebecca Ruth (6-1) vs Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (3-0)

Ruth has won her last four, including her Bellator debut in February where she roughed up Lena Ovchynnikova at Bellator 150 to win by decision. "Ruthless" is a former Shamrock FC promotion champ. She comes from the same gym, 21st Century MMA in Pacific, as Justin Lawrence, who is also fighting on Friday. Macfarlane has been impressive since turning pro, having won all three of her bouts, two of which have been inside the Bellator cage. The last time "The Ilimanator" competed, she submitted Amber Tackett via first-round armbar at Bellator 148.

Sid Gee: "I worked Becky's corner in her last fight and she showed all that it takes to be not only a contender but a champion. Macfarlane has good stand up, better ground. We've never really seen Becky fight off her back. We don't know how solid her ground game is."

Travis Brown: "With Ilima, she kinda reminds me a lot of what happened to Kailin Curran. She got into the UFC with a great face and great marketability. Ilima is not 100-percent their darling but the possibility is placed into that mindframe. But none of her opponents stick out. The level of competition swings in Rebecca's favor. Macfarlane has ground capabilities. She has some nice little submissions but she has not been hit the way Becky is going to hit. This is a fantastic opportunity, kicking off the main card at a huge event. The opportunity is there for one person to prove they are a true star and a face and for another to prove they're a legit title contender that the promotion should be behind. Those of us in the Midwest know what Becky is capable of and I think a star can come out of this fight."

Craig Nasello: (Macfarlane) is in for a rude awakening. She is good but she has not fought anyone like Becky. Becky is going to come forward the whole time throwing punches. We've never seen Becky's ground game because she has never had to use it. If she keeps the pressure and working off her front kick, she will beat this girl.

Brett Auten prediction: Ruth via ground and pound in the second round.

Joaquin Buckley (5-0) vs Chris Heatherly (9-3-1)

Never one to shy away from a bright light fight, Heatherly faces talented up-and-comer and Finney's MMA wonderkid Joaquin Buckley. Buckley has shown to have all the tools necessary to make a run at the big leagues and impressed many with his 5-0 start. It's hard to deny the resume of Heatherly, a 2-time UFC and two-time RFA vet. He bounced back from a loss at UFC 180 in Mexico with a win over Garrett Gross at Bellator 138 last June.

Nasello: "It depends on which 'Stump' shows up. This is a pick 'em fight. I give Buckley props. He's tough, young, and hungry. He has good takedown defense but it better be real good. Stump has one of the best MMA wrestling pedigrees there is. If Buckley keeps it standing, he wins. Stump has done a lot, if he shows up and fights his fight, it will be a hard one for Buckley."

Matt Frazier: "If Chris Heatherly comes into the fight on weight and motivated it could be a long night for Joaquin Buckley. Buckley is the younger, more explosive fighter and what he lacks in experience he more than makes up for in athleticism, but I've really been impressed with his poise. He's very young, but has shown great ability to handle the pressure, and come back strong when down in a fight. This fight will come down to how good Buckley's takedown defense is. If Heatherly can impose his game plan of shooting takedowns and controlling the cage while slowing the pace, he should be able to outpoint Buckley. If Buckley can put Heatherly in trouble and keep the pressure on, that's his key to victory."

Gee: "I think 170 is a better weight for Chris. Once he gets you on the ground, you're done. He has good stand-up, but he uses it mostly to set up his ground game. He's been wrestling since he was four-five-years-old, jiu-jitsu with the Machado Brothers. He really gets the most out of what he's got. When it gets on the ground, I don't see anyone beating him."

Rob Donaker: "You are looking at two of the top welterweights in the area. Heatherly is more experienced but Buckley looks at him as an opportunity. It's an exciting fight. They both can stand and throw but can Buckley handle the wrestling?"

Brown: "This is the fight that I love to hate. Everyone knows Joaquin and what he is capable of, bringing constant pressure. But this is his biggest test to date. None of his previous opponents come with the pedigree that Chris does. Chris has big, veteran savvy. Buckley is a great athlete, he's strong and has great timing. If he can finish someone like Heatherly that will propel his career. I hope (Buckley) knows that the time is now. At the same time, if Chris can withstand this up-and-comer it would give him some advancement and maybe one-to-two more dominant performances could put him right in the Bellator welterweight mix."

Auten Prediction: Heatherly, 29-28 unanimous decision win

Lee Burns (2-0) vs. Byron Stevens (0-0)

Two of the area's top young heavyweights. Read all you need to know about both in this article we published yesterday.

Nasello: "Burns is super athletic and he comes to fight. But he lacks experience and I don't know how much he has learned in what, one amateur and two pro fights. Byron has cardio for days. What he gives up in size he makes up for in cardio and experience. They're both good fighters and we have not really seen a ground game from either."

Frazier: "Lee Burns is a big guy who likes to bully his opponents, but Byron Stevens has to cut weight to make heavyweight so he won't be easy to push around. I think the difference in this fight could be nerves. I don't know if Stevens, who is turning pro, has had any fights of this magnitude. Burns has fought a couple of times at River City in front of large crowds, but all his fights have been short. Who's going to handle the pressure better? Burns is a hard one to read because we haven't seen to much of him. I believe he only had 1 or 2 amateur fights before turning pro. I think Burns will come in better shape and with all fights at this level, the better conditioned guy usually wins. I could see Burns eek out a decision if it gets that far, but with heavyweights, there's always the chance of someone ending the fight quickly and violently. Stevens does have a pretty decent amateur record, so who knows. This fight could go either way."

Donaker: "Someone's getting knocked out. Or dropped and TKO'd. Burns is athletic and has the build of a heavyweight. He comes straight forward. He's not a wrestler, he's not a jiu-jitsu guy. Byron has dropped a lot of guys but seems to go to a lot of decisions. He knows how to win. Bryon is no slouch. I think people overlook him. It's a tough one. Who can withstand the punching power?"

Auten prediction: Stevens, third round TKO.

Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs Nikki Smith (1-0)

Cummins, a St. Louis County Police Officer, competed recently for a shot to get into the Ultimate Fighter 23 house, and despite a brilliant first round, lost via TKO in the second. This bout will be at a catch-weight of 110-pounds.

Nasello: "Ashley is proven and she's tough. She has been dedicated over at the Wolf's Den. I'll be surprised if it gets out of the first round."

Donaker: "Ashley has been around for years and Nikki is very game. (Smith) doesn't stop and comes from a tough gym. Ashley has lost her last three and then at the Ultimate Fighter. This will be a big fight for her mentally. If Nikki can get the win, that's a big feather in her cap and puts her into a whole other category.

Auten prediction: Ashley wins by decision.

Kickboxing: Elmir Kulosman (3-0) vs. Darryl Cobb (2-1)

Donaker: "Those are two guys who you usually associate Muay Thai with more than kickboxing. But these are two guys who have power in both their hands and their legs. This will be a good experience for both of them and a chance to get noticed by Bellator Kickboxing."

Frazier: "The kickboxing bout between Elmir Kulosman and Darryl Cobb really has me intrigued. Both fighters are second generation Ron Smith disciples. For anyone that doesn't know Ron Smith is the Godfather of striking in St. Louis having been the mentor for both Fuad Keranovic and Jermaine Andre. Keranovic is responsible for the Art of Eight guys: Quinton O'Brien, Joe Mueller, Joe Cox and indirectly Tara Walker and most of the St. Charles MMA guys. While Andre, very successful in MMA in his own right, has produced several talented Muay Thai fighters himself. It's cool that on arguably the biggest mixed-combat event in St. Louis history, we see the Ron Smith heritage being honored in one of the marquee local fights."

Auten prediction: Kulosman outpoints Cobb for a decision

Tickets for Bellator 157: Dynamite 2, which start at just $30, are on sale now on and at the Ford Box Office at Scottrade Center. Doors for the event open at 5:00 p.m. CT local time, and the first contest takes place shortly after.

Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 airs live on Spike at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT, while preliminary bouts will stream on at 7 PM ET.

Full card: (Subject to change)

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (36-11) vs Satoshi Ishii (14-5-1)
Michael Chandler (14-3) vs Pitbull Freire (16-7) - Bellator Lightweight Title
Matt Mitrione (9-5) vs Carl Seumantuafa (10-6)
Kickboxing: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs Justin Houghton (7-2)
Kickboxing: Denise Kieholtz (44-2) vs Gloria Peritore (10-1-1)
Rebecca Ruth (6-1) vs Ilima-Lei Macfarlance (3-0)

Kickboxing: Joe Schilling (19-8) vs Hisaki Kato
Kickboxing: Raymond Daniels (7-3) vs TBA
Kickboxing: Keri Taylor-Melendez (3-1) vs Sarah Howell

Undercard fights:
Jason Christenson (1-0) vs Jarrod Thomas (0-0)
Michelle Royer (1-0) vs Katy Collins (3-1)
Joaquin Buckley (5-0) vs Chris Heatherly (9-3-1)
Matt Murphy (5-6) vs Justin Robbins (14-17-1)
Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs Nikki Smith (1-0)
Kevin Engel (5-0) vs. Chel Erwin-Davis (3-1)
Brad Jones (5-4) vs Tyler Claussen (2-2)
Justin Lawrence (8-3) vs Isao Kobayashi (18-3-4)
Steve Mann (11-4) vs Mike Estus (7-4)
Garrett Mueller (2-1) vs Rashard Lovelace (3-0)
Jordan Dowdy (3-1) vs Guilherme Vasconcelos (7-3)
Lee Burns (2-0) vs. Byron Stevens (0-0)

Kickboxing: Elmir Kulosman (3-0) vs. Darryl Cobb (2-1)
Amateur Kickboxing : Tara Walker (4-3-1) vs. Mimi Kutzin (3-2)

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography