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Bellator 174: Coenen vs. Budd fight card preview

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Here are the details for tonight’s Bellator 174 card, including the inaugural women’s featherweight title fight between Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd.

Bellator 174: Coenen vs. Budd is set to take tonight from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, but not before a major shakeup of the main card lineup. The main event will still be Marloes Coenen vs. Julia Budd for Bellator’s inaugural women’s featherweight belt, but after Mike Rhodes failed to make weight, his scheduled co-main event with Kendall Grove was scrapped.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Brandon Girtz is now being bumped up to the co-main event, but will now be at a catchweight tilt of 174, and not welterweight, as Gonzalez weighed in at 173.9 with Girtz clocking in at 165.6. Once again, Joe Taimanglo was unable to make the bantamweight limit, so his main card fight with Steve Garcia was cancelled.

Moving up from the preliminary card, heavyweight Justin Wren will get some Spike TV shine as he takes on Bellator newcomer Roman Pizzolato. Grappling guru Rafael Lovato Jr. has also been pushed up to the main card as he takes on short notice opponent Chris hackmann at a catchweight of 195 pounds.

Bellator 174: Coenen vs. Budd can be seen live on Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. EST with the prelims streaming online at 7:00 P.M. EST.

Main Card: Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. ET

Marloes Coenen (23-7 MMA; 2-1 Bellator) vs. Julia Budd (9-2 MMA; 3-0 Bellator): Inaugural (W) Featherweight Title

Starting her professional career back in the year 2000, Marloes Coenen is an MMA pioneer that has has fought a who’s who of top competition, including Cyborg twice. The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion is looking to capture another world title, but this time, in a different weight class.

Coenen was tearing through Bellator’s featherweight division, finishing both Annalisa Bucci and Arlene Blencowe by submission, before running into Alexis Dufresne at Bellator 155. Although Dufresne failed to make weight, Coenen opted to continue on with the bout, but fell victim to a Triangle Armbar in the first round. Coenen was looking to rebound at Bellator 163, but her fight was cancelled after her opponent Talita Nogueira failed to make weight.

Coenen has shown the ability to stand in the pocket and trade, and has even dropped a few foes in the past with her punches. She is willing to to mix it up in the standup realm, but Coenen’s bread and butter is the ground game. Coenen is a straight killer, as 20 of her 23 wins have come by way of finish, and out of those 20, 17 of them were submissions. With sweeps and submissions being a serious cause for concern, you can expect Coenen to remain highly active if she does find herself on her back.

CLICK HERE for Bloody Elbow’s Bellator 174 pre-fight interview with Marloes Coenen.

Julia Budd has won 7-straight as she went 4-0 in Invicta FC, before shipping off to Bellator where she picked up 3 more wins. It should noted that Budd’s only 2 losses have come to the current UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, and the former 135 queen Ronda Rousey.

Budd is known for her physically imposing stature and for using her athleticism to implement her grinding style. Having won 5 of her 9 fights by way of decision, Budd knows what it takes to pick up rounds, and get ahead on the judge’s scorecards. Look for Budd to bypass the standup, and engage in the clinch, where she has shown to be highly effective with her knee strikes while she searches for the takedown. Although Coenen has a plethora of submission wins to her credit, don’t expect Budd to shy away from top position, but rather try and own control as her opponent searches for subs.

You can expect a world class title fight between these two top competitors, but who will become Bellator’s first ever women’s featherweight champion?

Fernando Gonzales (25-14 MMA; 5-1 Bellator) vs. Brandon Girtz (14-5 MMA; 6-3 Bellator): Catchweight of 174 pounds

Fernando Gonzalez was thriving in the role of underdog as he was 5-0 in Bellator before facing top prospect, Michael Page, back in November at Bellator 165. Gonzalez was unable to deploy his typical boxing game that has been the foundation for his recent success, and dropped a split decision victory to pick up his first loss under the Bellator banner. Look for Gonzalez to get back to pulling the trigger on his punches, as he faces a less lanky opponent in Brandon Girtz.

***It should be noted that Gonzalez was unable to make the welterweight requirement, so this bout bout will now be held at a catchweight of 174. Gonzalez’ official weight was 173.9 pounds.

Brandon Girtz is an explosive powerhouse that has shown the ability to end a fight quickly, as 4 of his 6 Bellator wins happened in the first round. On top of his knack for an abrupt ending, Girtz has shown us that he is capable of dumping someone on their back, and making sure that they stay there; just ask Melvin Guillard.

Following his :37 TKO of Derek Campos back in November of 2015, Girtz took a year off from competition to undergo knee surgery. Upon returning to action, Girtz faced off with top grappling prospect Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 165 in November of 2016. Girtz spent the first 2 rounds somewhat stuck on the outside, until he finally blasted a takedown to gain top control in the third. The fight would end with Girtz on top, but it was too little too late as Piccolotti picked up the decision victory. Expect Girtz to have more confidence in his knee, and takedown abilities, as he faces much lesser of a ground threat in Gonzalez.

***It should be noted that Brandon Girtz weighed in at 165.6 pounds.

Who will avoid back to back losses inside of the Bellator cage?

Justin Wren (12-2 MMA; 2-0 Bellator) vs. Roman Pizzolato (9-7 MMA; Bellator Debut): Heavyweight

Justin “The Big Pygmy” Wren won both of his Bellator bouts following his return to MMA competition, from his well documented endeavors with the Pygmies in the Congo. Having now won 5-straight, dating back to 2010, Wren is looking to continue his momentum rolling as he takes on the kill or be killed style of Roman Pizzolato. Pizzolato sports a 9-7 record and each of those 16 fights came to an end inside of the distance. In fact, Pizzolato is so bout it, that he has hasn’t even seen a third round in his 8-years of professional MMA experience. You can expect the big boys to put on a show.

Rafael Lovato Jr. (7-1 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Chris Hackmann (4-4 MMA; Bellator Debut): Catchweight of 195 pounds

Jiu-Jitsu ace Rafael Lovato Jr. will be making his promotional debut on the Bellator main card, as he takes on short notice replacement Chris Hackmann. Lovato comes to Bellator with a 4-0 record, and all of those wins occurred inside of the distance. Look for Lovato to want to hit the mat, ASAP, in order to showcase his grappling pedigree. Chris Hackmann’s last fight was a first round submission in September of 2015. Before that, he fought in July of 2011, so consistency has not been the drink of choice for the 4-4 Hackmann. With nothing to lose, will Hackmann rise to the occasion, or will Lovato claim another victim and move to 5-0?

Prelims: Streaming Online at 7:00 P.M. EST

Cody Pfister vs. Jonathan Gary: Lightweight

Jason Witt vs. Justin Patterson: Catchweight of 175

Emmanuel Rivera vs. Treston Thomison: Catchweight of 150

Alexis Dufresne vs. Gabrielle Holloway: (W) Featherweight

Emily Ducote vs. Katy Collins: (W) Flyweight


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