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Bellator 49 Analysis: Dan Hornbuckle is Confident

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Dan ”The Handler” Hornbuckle (22-4-0) is a fighter resolved to win. Following a surprising ejection from Bellator’s season-four welterweight tournament at the hands of Brent Weedman in the quarterfinals, Hornbuckle now projects a win in his opening-round fight this Saturday.  This time around, he takes on Luis “Sapo” Santos (49-6-1) and during an interview with MMA Junkie Radio on September 1st, the voluble Hornbuckle promised that “[he’d] try and pull an Anderson Silva and knock [Santos] out with a jab.”

Hornbuckle, who entered Bellator during its sophomore season, has looked to mirror the striking prowess that he demonstrated while in Japan.  Back-to-back finishes of Akihiro Gono and Nick Thompson in Sengoku rewarded the then 28-year old with a berth in the near-upstart Bellator’s second welterweight tourney roughly two years ago.  “The Handler” eased through the quarter and semifinals of the season-two tournament with successive first-round submissions of Tyler Stinson and Steve Karl, respectively.  It would happen; however, that Hornbuckle was bested by the highly touted collegiate wrestler Ben Askren in the finals.

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Santos, however, is unlikely simply to allow the Cherokee-nation scraper to terrorize him on the feet; Santos counts 26 finishes, be they KO or TKO, amongst his remarkable 49 career wins.  Hornbuckle stated that his reach would be the difference-maker in the fight, ignoring the fact that the reach and height difference between both men is very nearly negligible.

Askren, who currently holds the welterweight title, is set to defend it against the season-three victor, Jay Hieron, sometime this season.  The resulting champion of this match-up would next face this season’s playoff winner, which has been the promotion’s calling card since its inception in 2008.

Season 5 of Bellator opens this Saturday, with the welterweight tournament quarterfinals, at 9 pm EST on MTV2, and in high-definition on EPIX.

Get more great MMA news, recaps and analysis over at MMA Valor.