BY: DAVID GOLDEN
With Bellator 193 just two days away, a pair of Portland-based fighters are set to make their promotional debuts. Jake Smith and Tyree Fortune are two of the rising stars coming out of Gracie Barra Portland. Head coach Fabiano Scherner has turned the once small Jiu Jitsu school into a mixed martial arts powerhouse, with Smith and Fortune being two of the hottest prospects. After a successful promotional debut by their teammate, Cris “Sunshine” Williams, last month at Bellator 189, Smith and Fortune will look to keep the rising stars of Gracie Barra Portland undefeated in the Bellator cage. The pair will have their hands full for their debuts and neither has an easy road ahead. Let’s take a look at the matchups and discuss just what we can expect to see from the two of them this Friday.
Tyree “X-Man” Fortune vs. Michael “The Brown Tiger” Quintero
This matchup seems to be rather favorable for Fortune. One half of the Fabulous Fighting Fortune brothers (Tyree’s twin brother, Tyrell, also fights for Bellator), Fortune has a very strong wrestling background. As a senior at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, he was the state runner up in both Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling. This is a problem for his opponent, Michael Quintero. Quintero is a very large light heavyweight who has not always shown great ability to stop the takedown. In many of his fights, his takedown defense was solely based on strength (of which he has plenty), and he allowed his opponents to win the positional battle. However, even out of position, he was able to use his strength to stay standing. This will not work against a wrestler the caliber of Fortune. Fortune’s takedowns are often paired with explosive striking and quick returns to the takedown attempt. These tools will make it difficult for his opponent to avoid the mat. Quintero does possess dangerous power and should Fortune leave himself exposed, it could end violently for the young prospect. Beyond that, Quintero is a very coachable athlete; he does an excellent job of listening to his corner and making adjustments. If he and Fortune end up in a stalemate, he may be able to turn the tables on Fortune if his corner can walk him through the position. Quintero has good straight punches and knees from the clinch but he his lack of speed will likely make both of these tools even more situational.
Prediction: Fortune takes it by 2nd round TKO
Jake “The Half Black Attack” Smith vs. Steve “Thunderbeast” Kozola
This fight is almost certain to bring fireworks. Both Smith and Kozola have a penchant for striking and knockout power to go along with it. Kozola has the edge in experience, having fought for Bellator four times already. He is 3-1 with the promotion but is coming off his first professional defeat. The loss showed a hole in Kozola’s game, as his opponent put him on the mat and kept him there throughout the fight. Smith would be wise to keep an eye open for the takedown but, like Kozola, his bread and butter is his striking so don’t expect to see him shoot in on Kozola too early. Kozola is a larger lightweight, so any size advantage Smith was looking for coming down from welterweight will not be there. Kozola brings good speed and accurate strikes when throwing in the pocket but has shown a lack of head movement and wild strikes coming in and backing out of exchanges. He will need to keep his strikes disciplined if he hopes to work his game effectively against Smith. Smith has very sharp striking and excellent head movement on his feet. Expect to see Smith try and use accurate counter strikes as Kozola comes in and heavy leg kicks when they are striking at a distance. Smith can at times over extend in exchanges if he is looking for the knockout; in the past, he has taken some unnecessary damage as a result. While Smith is known as a fighter who likes to stand and trade, my gut tells me he will look to exploit Kozola’s wrestling deficiency.
Prediction: Smith by unanimous decision
This Card takes place this Friday on the all-new Paramount Network (Formerly Spike TV). Jake Smith is the first fight on the main card so be sure to set your DVR for the event. Tyree Fortune will be on the undercard, which will air live on Bellator.com
Bellator.com Prelims – 4:55pm PST
Bellator 193 Main Card, Paramount Network – 6:00pm PST