Bellator MMA 160 is live from the Honda Center in Los Angeles, Calif. tonight. In the main event, Benson Henderson makes his second appearance for Bellator after signing with the organization earlier this year. Henderson’s debut fight for his new home didn’t go as planned as he lost a very one-sided affair against Welterweight Champion Andrey Koreshkov. Ben’s inability to deal with Koreshkov’s superior size and strength led to his third loss in his last five fights.
On Friday night Henderson faces former Bellator Featherweight Champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who moves up to the Lightweight Division for this fight. Patricio comes into the fight with a win over Henry Corrales back in April. The win against Corrales got Freire back in the win column after losing his Featherweight Title in a decision loss to Daniel Straus.
In the co-main event, we stay in the lightweight division as Saad Awad goes up against Derek Anderson. Anderson has alternated wins and losses over his last four fights with his last being a win over Patricio’s brother, Patricky, in December of last year. Saad has gone 4-1 over his last five fights. His last fight was a round one TKO victory over Evangelista Santos.
The four fight main card rounds out with two featherweight bouts between Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Bubba Jenkins and A.J. McKee vs. Cody Walker.
Patricio Freire (25-3-0) vs. Benson Henderson (23-6-0) | Current Line: Henderson: -225, Freire +185
Needless to say, this is a big fight for Ben Henderson. After the lopsided loss to Andrey Koreshkovin his first fight, a second straight loss would be devastating to booth Henderson and Bellator. Freire will look to keep the fight standing where he can utilize his strength which is his striking. Although, Freire’s last win over Corrales did come by submission.
You can expect Henderson to try to get the fight to the ground where his superior grappling will neutralize Patricio’s power. Ben’s height and reach advantage along with just better overall skills will get the job done and secure his first win in Bellator.
Pick: Henderson by decision
Derek Anderson (13-2-0) vs. Saad Awad (19-7-0) | Current Line: Anderson -150, Awad +130
I just can’t get behind the inconsistent Saad Awad. Don’t get me wrong, Awad certainly has the skill and the power to end the fight quickly as evidenced by his knockout of Evangelista Santos. There is a lot riding on this fight, as both fighters will be looking for a title shot with a win. The one concern I have in backing Anderson is his eight month layoff. A slow start could give Saad an early advantage. Although Derek has lost two of his last four fights he has skill to be a champion. That path starts with a win on Friday.
Pick: Anderson by decision
Bubba Jenkins (11-2-0) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (24-6-1) | Current Line: Jenkins -155, Karakhanyan +135
Here we have two fighters heading in opposite directions. Jenkins comes into the fight on a three-fight winning streak, while Karakhanyan has lost his previous two. I fully expect Jenkins to have learned how to defend the guillotine choke, which is how he lost the first fight against Georgi back in January of 2015. While I expect the fight to be close, I expect a different outcome from the first fight.
Pick: Jenkins by decision
AJ McKee (4-0-0) vs. Cody Walker (7-2-0) | Current Line: McKee -600, Walker +400
I will be shocked if this goes past the first round.
Pick: McKee by TKO
Enjoy the fights! Catch my report on the show tonight right here at MMATorch.com.