Bellator returns this weekend, headlined by a rematch of a controversial decision in the first bout between King Mo Lawal and Rampage Jackson. The rest of the main card features an interesting heavyweight bout and former champion Marcos Galvao taking on Emmanuel Sanchez in a fun featherweight fight. The following are previews and predictions for the main card airing on Spike TV.
Spike TV Main Card (9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST)
Lloyd Carter (10-8) vs. Noad Lahat (10-2) – Featherweight Bout
Bellator is looking to create some younger prospects with names who couldn’t quite cut it in the UFC and Noad Lahat fits that bill perfectly. Lahat is 32 years old and is 10-2 with his only losses coming in the UFC, where he went 2-2 overall. Lahat’s striking leaves something to be desired but his ground game is pretty strong. Working out of the American Kickboxing Academy, Lahat’s striking should be continously improving and filling in the gaps in his game. Lloyd Carter is a striker with very little ground game to speak of. While Lahat’s striking could leave him open for a finish, Carter’s five losses via submission make me think that Lahat can sneak one in and finish him off. Lahat will move on to 2-0 under the Bellator banner.
Prediction: Noad Lahat via Submission Round 2
Jake Roberts (7-1) vs. Steve Kozola (7-0) – Lightweight Bout
Two up and coming lightweights do battle when equally experienced Jake Roberts and Steve Kozola collide. Roberts is 1-1 in Bellator, but has shown a good all around skill set that can continue to improve. Kozola is undefeated and has two wins in Bellator as well as one in World Series of Fighting. Kozola just has the better pedigree here, being a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a purple belt in BJJ. Kozola hasn’t even shown off much of a ground game as his opponents can’t stand the pressure of his advanced striking. If Roberts can drag Kozola into deep waters that is where he can thrive, but with Kozola being so aggressive early, I don’t think Roberts make it out of the first round.
Prediction: Steve Kozola via KO Round 1
Chase Gormley (14-5) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (23-6) – Heavyweight Bout
Chase Gormley’s career has had its ups and downs as he has already seen the UFC come and go, fought in Titan FC and now in Bellator going 2-1 so far. The only thing that has really hampered Gormley’s career is that his chin hasn’t held up with four of his five losses coming from (T)KO. Gormley also doesn’t have the style of a finisher as the majority of his 14 wins have come via decision. Sergei Kharitonov has had a storied career fighting in Pride, Dream, Strikeforce, M-1 and now Bellator. The debut of Kharitonov didn’t go as planned, being KO’d in the first round. With both of these mens’ chins not holding up too well this fight could end at any moment. Kharitonov is the proven fininsher here and has the better skillset on the ground and likely on the feet as well, so he is the go to pick.
Prediction: Sergei Kharitonov via TKO Round 2
Emmanuel Sanchez (14-3) vs. Marcos Galvao (18-7-1) – Featherweight Bout
The winner of this bout between Emmanuel Sanchez and Marcos Galvao will likely end with the winner getting a featherweight title shot, especially if Sanchez is the victor. Sanchez is some fresh blood for the featherweight title picture in Bellator, being 26 years old and his only losses are to Pat Curran and Daniel Weichel his future looks pretty bright. Sanchez is strong everywhere, but is more deadly on the ground. Training at RoufusSport has really turned him into a complete fighter. Being 5’9” Sanchez also has a great frame for the 145 lb. Division. Galvao is a veteran of the sport and is one of the more curious cases in MMA. The BJJ of Galvao is some of the highest level, but he has very rarely shown it at all in his fights. Galvao’s striking is good, but not great and this fight should be very closely contested. Neither man is a finisher so it just depends on who can outpoint the other. Sanchez’s frame and style should be enough to frustrate Galvao on Friday night.
Prediction: Emmanuel Sanchez via Split Decision
King Mo Lawal (20-5) vs. Rampage Jackson (37-11) – Heavyweight Main Event
A rematch of their bout from 2014, King Mo Lawal will try to get his revenge against Quinton Rampage Jackson after a controversial loss the first time out. In their first bout, Lawal really had seemed to get enough done with his striking, wrestling and clinch game, but the judges didn’t see it that way. Both fighters need to be more active in this rematch because neither really did a whole lot the first time out and if the same type of fight happens again it will hurt the stock of both fighters.
Lawal has been more active in the last couple of years than Jackson has been, fighting eight times in the last two years while Jackson has only fought twice in the same time frame. Lawal likes to stand and trade, but really needs to rely on his wrestling more as that aspect of his game is quite better than most other fighters. Lawal will never be a great fighter, but he should still have something left in his tank in 2017.
Rampage Jackson’s style has always been that of a gritty boxer. Lots of clinching, tight shots and a relentless pace along with his personality was what made him exciting television. Jackson is riding a five fight winning streak into this rematch, but that includes two close fights, one with Lawal and the other with Satoshi Ishii. Those two close fights and the recent comments of Jackson’s lead me to believe that he doesn’t have the same hunger he has had in the past. Lawal should be able to control Jackson if he fights smart. Jackson also seems like he probably put on weight and will be the larger man, but as long as Lawal wrestles this is his fight to lose.
Prediction: King Mo Lawal via Unanimous Decision
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FIGHT PRIMER: UFC Fight Night Primer: Ecochard’s preview of Jimi Manua vs. Corey Anderson, Gunnar Nelson vs. Alan Jouban, Picket vs. Vera