BELLATOR 179 PRIMER: Ecochard’s preview and predictions of Macdonald vs. Daley, Mcgeary vs. Vassell, Kongo vs. Sakai, more

By Matt Ecochard, MMATorch contributor

Bellator will be airing from London at the SSE Arena in Wembley this Friday with an intriguing welterweight match between Rory Macdonald who is making his Bellator debut against the surging veteran Paul Daley. The co-main event is a match between former light heavyweight champion Liam Mcgeary and top contender Linton Vassell. The following are previews and predictions for the main card that will be airing on Spike TV Friday night

Spike TV Main Card (9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST)

D.J. Griffin (0-0) vs. Kevin Ferguson Jr. “Baby Slice” (0-1) – Welterweight Bout

Kevin Ferguson’s first pro mma fight didn’t go as planned when he lost via submission in the second round. Standing up, Ferguson had success, but he needs to keep improving his ground game if he hopes to be able to make it in the sport. DJ Griffin is 2-2 as an amateur and is looking to make a statement against Ferguson. He has won and lost via TKO and submission already so he might be better off trying to take down Ferguson, standing on the feet he might not hold up and get knocked out. Ferguson has probably made some strides since November in his ground game, even if just slightly. Look for him to keep the bout on the feet and get his first professional win.

Prediction: Kevin Ferguson via TKO Round 1

Dan Edwards (14-14) vs. Alex Lohore (11-1) – Welterweight Bout

This is being made to be a showcase fight for Alex Lohore when he takes on a fighter who has a .500 record while he is riding a seven fight winning streak and has an 11-1 record. Lohore is really strong everywhere with five TKOs, four submissions and two decisions. His grappling is strong and his cardio is solid. Edwards will finish or be finished in almost any of his fights so this one should be exciting while it lasts. Lohore should be able to get the fight to the ground and grind out the victory with some ground and pound into a submission and see the finish early.

Prediction: Alex Lohore via Submission Round 1

Augusto Sakai (9-0-1) vs. Cheick Kongo (26-10-2) – Heavyweight Bout

Former UFC fighter Cheick Kongo has had good success in Bellator going 8-2 so far with losses coming from Muhammed Lawal and Vitaly Minakov. The issue with Kongo is that he is more than comfortable just grinding out a decision win and not going for a finish. In two of his last four wins, Kongo had a majority and split decision win which means he really needs to be a little more aggressive or he might begin losing fights soon. Kongo has strong wrestling and good defensive boxing that gives him the style to eek out fights.

Augusto Sakai is known as a finisher, but struggled to finish his last two Bellator fights and almost received his first loss when he got a majority draw decision in his last bout. Even in a scenario where Sakai gets to let go with his hands, Kongo has only been TKO’d three times in his whole career and it’s been a long time since his last TKO loss. Sakai is likely to be grinded out and forced into clinches against the cage and will see his first loss of his career.

Prediction: Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision

Linton Vassell (17-5) vs. Liam Mcgeary (12-1) – Light Heavyweight Bout

Since losing his title to Phil Davis, Liam Mcgeary rebounded with a TKO win in his last fight and is taking a difficult fight with Linton Vassell. Mcgeary is a strong striker, but he really shines with his BJJ skills, being a brown belt and training at Team Renzo Gracie. The only visible holes in Mcgeary’s game are his takedown defense and his complacency to spend a round on his back looking for a submission. Vassell’s recent wins over Francis Carmont and Emanuel Newton have proven he has improved his game. If he is smart, Vassell will shoot for takedowns early and often and be careful on top of submissions. This is a really evenly matched bout, but I think Mcgeary has more weapons than Vassell does. Vassell is tough, but Mcgeary is sneaky enough that he should be able to get a submission in somewhere.

Prediction: Liam Mcgeary via Submission Round 2

Rory Macdonald (18-4) vs. Paul Daley (39-14-2) – Welterweight Main Event

This fight should provide some exciting action. Rory Macdonald and Paul Daley are two fighters who are capable of immense amounts of violence, but can also be fairly technical. Hopefully Macdonald doesn’t fight too cautiously like he did against Stephen Thompson. Daley has gone 4-1 so far in Bellator in his most recent run with the organization only losing to Douglas Lima. The winner of this fight is supposedly getting a welterweight title shot and deservedly so. Bellator’s welterweight division is starting to pick up and the winner of this would be a fine challenger.

Rory Macdonald is a fighter who was groomed to be a complete martial artist. Recently he has fallen in love with striking primarily. His only losses in his career were two to Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit and Stephen Thompson. Only aged 27, Macdonald has plenty left in him and is probably still approaching his prime years as a fighter. Macdonald should get back to using his grappling skills for this fight. The height advantage could help him on the feet, but Daley just hits so hard and could knock just about anyone out that it wouldn’t be smart of Macdonald to stand and bang with him.

The knockout of Brennan Ward was absolutely devastating and is what caused Daley to get this chance against Macdonald. In 39 wins, 29 have been by knockout for Daley and he has only been knocked out twice. Daley has improved his game so he isn’t completely one dimensional anymore, but he will always prefer to keep the fight on the feet. If he can keep the fight standing he has a really good chance to win on Friday night, especially with the English crowd behind him. Macdonald will be too much for Daley though and he should be able to get him to the mat if he chooses to do so. Daley will have a rough time getting to the feet and will lose the decision.

Prediction: Rory Macdonald via Unanimous Decision


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