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Bellator 198: Bader vs. King Mo fight card preview 

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Peep the scene for Saturday’s Bellator 199 card, where Ryan Bader squares off with King Mo in the heavyweight Grand Prix main event.

Bellator 199 kicks off this Saturday night with the next installment of their heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, as the promotion’s light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader faces off with “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal in the main event. The winner of that bout will advance to the next round of the tourney to face Matt Mitrione in the semi-finals. The co-main event of the evening will see the Bellator debut for longtime MMA veteran Jon Fitch, who puts a four-fight winning streak on the line against dangerous knockout artist Paul Daley.

Also on the card, we have another longtime MMA vet in Cheick Kongo meeting young gunner Javy Ayala, but not before two up and coming prospects put in some work. The recently lethal Aaron Pico is set for his fourth professional bout against a highly experienced Lee Morrison, who possesses a rather seasoned 18-8 record. Opening up the main card, the 7-0 Carrington Banks, is in for a tough out against Adam Piccolotti, who looks to avoid a three-fight losing skid.

**Bellator 199 can be seen on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 8:00 P.M .ET.

Ryan Bader (24-5 MMA/2-0 Bellator) vs. King Mo Lawal (21-6 MMA/10-4 Bellator): Heavyweight GP

After leaving the UFC, Ryan Bader captured Bellator’s light heavyweight belt from Phil Davis, then defended his throne by finishing Linton Vassell, and now the 205 pound king is gunning for another title in another division. Against Davis, Bader showed off a kicking game to go along with his punches, and although he isn’t known for his impeccable polish on the feet, let’s not forget about the horsepower that Bader brings to the table. For reference, go check out his destruction of Ilir Latifi. It’s every bit of yikes!

Bader is an exceptional wrestler, and it’s extremely rare to see him on his back. With that being said, it should be noted King Mo’s bread and butter is his wrestling game, so there’s a great chance of that route not being available against Bader. Despite 27 professional bouts, most of which occurred at the highest levels of the sport, Bader has never lost a decision, so you have to finish him if you want to beat him. Bader has all of the tools to get the job done here, but can he avoid making crucial fight-ending mistakes?

King Mo picked up a unanimous decision win over Quinton Jackson back in March of 2017, and after a pair of injury related pullouts, Lawal now finds himself in Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix tournament. Although he spent the bulk of his career at 205 pounds, King Mo weighed in for six of his last seven bouts at around 214 pounds, so he does have more experience fighting at a higher weight than Bader does.

Lawal might need to find a knockout on the feet here, especially against someone like Bader who is more than capable of shutting down the wrestling of almost anyone, pound for pound, in any promotion. We have seen Lawal hurt his opponents on the feet before. We watched him beat the brakes off of Linton Vassell on the feet, and although he didn’t put him away in the two-round light heavyweight tournament bout, he definitely let his hands go. Will King Mo be able to put together something special to put away Bader and advance to the next round?

Paul Daley (40-15-2 MMA/6-2 Bellator) vs. Jon Fitch (30-7-1 MMA/Bellator Debut): Welterweight

Paul Daley has alternated wins and losses in his past four matches, but there’s no shame in falling short to the likes of Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald. Around those L’s, Daley scooped up a pair of highlight reel knockouts, the first of which being a bodacious flying knee KO of Brennan Ward, followed by a clever KO of fellow striker Lorenz Larkin.

This cat is such a killer! Seriously, Daley has finished 32 of his 40 wins, and 30 of those were by knockout. Those two subs? Yeah, one came by way of body punch and the other by elbow. Daley finishes 80% of his wins and that stat is absolutely bananas. In the past six years, Daley picked up 11 wins, finishing all but one of them. Daley hits hard is what I’m saying. Fitch better guard his grill!

So, Jon Fitch is now in Bellator and set to make his promotional debut. We last saw Fitch in the PFL, submitting Brian Foster in the second round to capture a welterweight title. Before that, we watched him pick up a unanimous decision over grappling great Jake Shields in the now defunct WSOF. Fitch has gone 6-2 since departing from the UFC, and just might have some more left in the tank to make a run at Bellator’s welterweight belt, or maybe not.

Fitch has become increasingly hittable as he’s aged in his career. He was in some major trouble in that second round with Foster, getting hurt on the feet multiple times before finding an RNC. We have all seen Daley get taken down by wrestlers far worse than Fitch, so the question is, can Fitch close the distance before getting lit up on the feet?

Cheick Kongo (27-10-2 MMA/9-2 Bellator) vs. Javy Ayala (10-6 MMA/5-3 Bellator): Heavyweight

Cheick Kongo makes his return to action following a year on the sidelines. When Kongo first showed up on the big stage, he was seen as devastating striker, but has since methodically shifted into much more of a wrestler/grappler. It’s not uncommon to see Kongo get up under somebody’s hips or hold them up against the cage. At 42 years of age, there really isn’t much that Kongo hasn’t seen in the sport of MMA. Kongo has faced an array of opposition as of late, from up and comers to journeymen, and even holds a Bellator win over the UFC’s #3 heavyweight, Alexander Volkov. Can Kongo avoid getting nuked by a right hand and get his ‘salty dog veteran’ on?

Just when it seemed as if you weren’t going to know who Javy Ayala was, boom! He blasted Sergei Kharitonov with a massive right hand that separated the veteran from his senses. In his follow up fight, Ayala took a step up in competition once again to face off with “Big Country” Roy Nelson, but fell short on the scorecards. Against Nelson, Ayala showed that he is capable of getting back to his feet and letting off with some unorthodox strikes that fly by at deceptively fast speeds… at least for the first two rounds. Ayala is going to want to keep his distance here and make the most of his athletic advantage. Yes, it doesn’t look like Ayala has an athletic advantage, but he does.

Aaron Pico (2-1 MMA/Bellator) vs. Lee Morrison (18-8 MMA/Bellator Debut): Featherweight

After a worst case scenario played out in Aaron Pico’s professional debut, the wrestling standout rebounded with an insane left hook knockout of Justin Linn. To make things even better, Pico launched that same bunker buster of a left hand towards the midsection of Shane Kruchten, causing him to fold up like a lawn chair to get the W. The sky’s the limit for Pico, who has proven to be exceptionally lethal on the feet, and we haven’t even really seen his specialty, which is his wrestling. The hype train of Pico is alive and well, and quite frankly warranted at this point.

Lee Morrison has a bunch of M-1 experience coming into his Bellator debut. Although Morrison is on a four-fight winning streak, the combined record of those four opponent’s is an abysmal 15-56. So, Morrison is fun and scrappy, but he has been crushing cans lately, and Pico is no can. Sure, Morrison could get the win, but I doubt anybody is betting on it.

Carrington Banks (7-0 MMA/3-0 Bellator) vs. Adam Piccolotti (9-2 MMA/3-2 Bellator): Lightweight

Just when Adam Piccolotti was shaping up as a top lightweight prospect for Bellator, the promotion pitted him against Goiti Yamauchi who pretty much destroyed Piccolotti as his own game. In his next bout, Piccolotti was bullied on the feet by David Rickels for the bulk of three rounds, making it back to back losses. Now Piccolotti is up against a top prospect and is looking to avoid a three-fight losing skid. He is going to need every bit of his Jiu-Jitsu background to neutralize the wrestling attack of his opponent, and might even need to win this one on the feet. It’s always interesting to see how hard athletes fight when their backs are to the wall.

Carrington Banks sports an unblemished 7-0 record as he takes his next step up in competition. On top of a strong wrestling base, Banks showed off some slick boxing in his previous fight with Steve Kozola, and found a solid balance of standup and grappling to achieve the dominant decision win. Piccolotti is probably the most dangerous submission threat that Banks has faced to date, and this could easily turn into one of those ‘prospect learns a lesson’ moments, but don’t be surprised to see this one go the full 15 minutes. Will Banks leave out of Bellator 199 with his ‘0’ intact?


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