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Bellator 175 predictions

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Bellator 175 is definitely not the flashiest event the promotion has put together, but it does lead with a heated rematch between two of the biggest names in the company – Quinton Jackson and Muhammed Lawal. This card also features the Bellator featherweight debut of former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao, a bout between seasoned heavyweights Sergei Kharitonov and Chase Gormley, and a featherweight bout featuring former UFC fighter Noad Lahat.

What: Bellator 175

Where: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.

When: Friday, March 31. The preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET on MMA Fighting, and the five-fight main card begins at 9 p.m on Spike.

Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal

“Rampage” and “King Mo” fought almost three years ago in the main event of Bellator 120. The bout ended with referee John McCarthy raising Jackson’s hand, signaling he had outpointed Lawal in a unanimous decision. Although I’d hesitate to call the decision a complete robbery, it did cause some degree of controversy, as many, including myself, thought Lawal had done enough to earn a 29-28 decision over the former UFC champion.

Having seen how their styles and skills matched up in the first bout, and considering both fighters haven’t really made any big changes in their fighting style, we can get a decent idea of how this rematch at Bellator 175 will play out. However, there are two things worth noting leading up to this rematch that can have some influence in the outcome.

It’s a heavyweight bout:

In the first bout, both “Rampage” and “King Mo” had to weigh-in below 206 pounds since their fight was part of Bellator’s season 10 light heavyweight tournament. “King Mo”, although he’s never really looked undersized at light heavyweight, and actually looks to have physical presence in the weight class, is actually one of the smaller fighters at 205. “King Mo” doesn’t make big weight cuts and walks around the same weight of most middleweight fighters.

For this bout, Lawal hit the scale at 212 pounds, while Jackson weighed in at 253. If Lawal’s strategy were to strike with Jackson, then maybe the 41-pound difference between the two wouldn’t be as big of a factor. However, Lawal will likely be looking to wrestle with Jackson, and controlling and taking down opposition tends to be a more difficult the heavier the opponent is. Even though Jackson was taken down by Lawal several times in the first bout, “Rampage” did have some degree of success defending takedowns, as he was able to keep the fight on the feet for a good portion of the fight – especially in the second round.

My thought here is that Jackson’s size advantage will enhance his takedown defense against ‘King Mo’.

Momentum goes a long way:

Since Bellator 120, Lawal went on to build a seven-fight win streak, which was later snapped by now champion Phil Davis. He then rebounded with a victory over Satoshi Ishii in December and just days later stepped up on short notice to replace an injured Wanderlei Silva in a bout against heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop”. Lawal looked sharp in the fight against “Cro Cop”, dominating most of the bout until the Croatian tagged him with a series of punches in the second round. Meanwhile, Jackson has only fought twice since Bellator 120, defeating Fábio Maldonado, and Ishii.

It’s clear that Lawal is in a better, and more active groove than Jackson. And keeping in mind that they’re both in their late thirties, the difference in competition and training activity could manifest itself.

Prediction:

So to what extent will Jackson’s size advantage hinder Lawal’s takedowns? How much will Lawal benefit from his superior momentum?

I see Lawal having some difficulties grappling with the heavier Jackson in the early portion of the fight, and I think Jackson will again find success on the feet, outboxing Lawal. I think this will be a close fight, much like the first one, but I see Lawal’s constant pressure eventually wearing on Jackson. “King Mo” should control enough of the action with his crafty wrestling to win a decision.

Pick: King Mo

Sergei Kharitonov vs. Chase Gormley

This should be a manageable fight for the veteran Sergei Kharitonov. But I also had the same thought leading up to Kharitonov’s Bellator debut against Javy Ayala.

There is no question about Kharitonov’s credentials or legitimacy. Kharitonov has an impressive professional MMA record of 23-6 with victories over world-class fighters such as Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, Pedro Rizzo, Semmy Schilt, and more. It’s hard to tell where Kharitonov is at in his career, as he recently suffered a bad knockout loss to Ayala, who’s not considered a top heavyweight. But yet, prior to the defeat, Kharitonov was riding a five-fight win streak.

Kharitonov is 36 years old and has been fighting for almost 17 years. I think it’s safe to say that the Russian fighter has a lot of miles on him, and that his better days are probably past him. However, that doesn’t mean Kharitonov is no longer a skilled fighter incapable of reaching the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division. So will Kharitonov’s road to cement himself as a top heavyweight start with Chase Gormley? I think so.

Gormley is a tough, well-rounded fighter that posseses clean boxing technique. The American is also no newbie, as he has 20 professional fights under his belt, including a short UFC run. Yet, I find Gormley to fall short in most areas of the fight game against Kharitonov. I see Kharitonov’s superior striking and experience earning him a solid victory here.

Pick: Kharitonov

Marcos Galvao vs. Emmanuel Sanchez

Former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao is moving up to the featherweight division, and he’s not having an easy welcome.

Galvao will be facing Bellator prospect Emmanuel Sanchez. I was impressed and a bit surprised by Sanchez’s performance in his last bout against crafty veteran Georgi Karakhanyan. In his bout against Karakhanyan, Sanchez proved to be a complete fighter that hang with the top guys in the division.

This is a tough fight to pick. Galvao has an edge in experience, grappling, and punching power, but Sanchez is the cleaner, and more technical striker. On paper, I’d go with Galvao, but I have feeling I shouldn’t doubt Sanchez.

Pick: Sanchez

Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts

Steve Kozola is dangerous striker that can sometimes be a bit reckless. The 27-year-old fighter has crazy power behind his punches and a solid striking offense. But when it comes to his striking defense, Kozola keeps his chin up and his hands low, leaving himself open to strikes. Luckily, Kozola is tough and has a solid chin. Jake Roberts is a well-rounded fighter that’s defensively good on the ground and has good technique in the striking department.

I find Roberts to be much more cautious and technical on the feet than Kozola. But I think it’s clear that Kozola has significantly higher punching power and a higher striking output than Roberts. I can see Kozola overwhelming Roberts with a barrage of hard punches, but I think Roberts will use his fluid footwork and head movement to outbox Kozola.

Pick: Roberts

Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter

This is the easiest fight to pick out of the Bellator 175 main card.

Noad Lahat is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. The Israeli fighter might not be a great striker but can hold his own on the feet. His opponent, Lloyd Carter, is primarily a striker that has fought most of his career in small regional promotions. Carter is 11-7 as a professional fighter, and has five submission losses on his record.

I expect Lahat to have little difficulty getting this fight to the ground and locking some type of submission early in the fight.

Pick: Lahat

Source:: mma fighting