Bellator 171 comes to the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas on Friday night. The main event features rising welterweight Chidi Njokuani taking on UFC veteran Melvin Guillard. The co-main takes place in the lightweight division as hometown favorite David Rickels takes on Aaron Derrow.
The four-fight main card rounds out with rising star AJ McKee Jr. taking on Brandon Phillips in a battle of featherweights and on the women’s side we go to the flyweight division with Jessica Middleton going up against Alice Yauger.
The prelims will stream on Bellator.com starting at 6 p.m. CT, with Spike TV taking over at 8 p.m. CT for the main card.
Melvin Guillard (32-16) vs. Chidi Njokuani (16-4) – Catchweight 175 lbs.
Current Odds: Njokuani -320; Guillard +250
Melvin Guillard is coming off a knockout victory over David Rickels at Bellator 159. The result was later overturned by the Kansas Athletic Commission due to Guillard testing positive for a non-performance enhancing banned substance. Guillard also missed weight, as he did for three of the last four of his fights. The UFC verteran is 1-4 in his last five fights and one has to wonder what, if anything Guillard has left.
Chidi Njokuani enters the fight looking to add a big name to his resume as he continues to climb the welterweight ladder. Njokuani is riding a six-fight winning streak. His most recent win was a 21 second TKO of Andre Fialho at Bellator 167.
Between Guillard’s lack of discipline and diminishing skills it’s impossible to back him in this or any other fight he’s in. This is MMA and anything can happen, but this Chidi Njokuani’s fight.
Pick: Njokuani by TKO
David Rickels (17-4) vs. Aaron Derrow (14-8) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Rickels -800; Derrow +500
Kansas native David Rickels is coming off a no-contest against Melvin Guillard at Bellator 159 as previously discussed. Aside from a NC against John Alesssio at Bellator 139, he has alternated wins and losses his last six fights. Rickels fights a crowd pleasing style in that he likes to pressure and stand inside the pocket and throw strikes until someone drops. Of his last seven fights, only one has gone the distance.
Aaron Derrow is 1-0 under the Bellator banner after beating Nate Jolly at Bellator 130. He is 4-6 over his last ten fights. Derrow also likes throw hands so I do not expect this to go the distance.
Pick: Rickels by TKO
AJ McKee Jr. (6-0) vs. Brandon Phillips (6-2) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: McKee Jr -1300; Phillips +1280
AJ McKee Jr.enters his fight with Brandon Phillips undefeated. Up until Ray Wood took him the distance at Bellator 166 all of McKee’s wins were either by knockout or submission. Brandon Phillips is 2-2 over his last four fights, with one of the losses coming against Ray Wood.
I expect a fast paced fight between these two. Bellator knows they have a potential future star in AJ McKee Jr. I expect him to look good here and win the fight inside the distance.
Pick: McKee by TKO
Jessica Middleton (1-0) vs. Alice Yauger (4-4) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Middleton -220; Yauger +170
Jessica Middleton will look to make it 2-0 under the Bellator banner. She looked very good in her debut when she defeated Bruna Ellen by decision at Bellator 159. The Wichita, Kansas native will certainly have the crowd behind her for this one.
Alice Yauger makes her Bellator debut on Friday night. She enters the fight on a two-fight winning streak, taking both by decision. I liked the poise I liked the poise Middleton showed for her debut, which tells me the situation wasn’t too big for her. I expect her to go to 2-0.
Pick: Middleton by decision
As the current odds reflect, most of the main card fights are mismatches. I don’t expect any upsets coming out of the main card. For my money the best bets would be taking the rounds under in the men’s fights.
Prelims Quick Look
Harris over Jordan
Reyno over Overton
Garcia over Lavine
Rencountre over Lindsey
Marigo over Fulk
Meraz over Heston
Breeden over Farley
Trice over Woltkamp
Fortune over Johnson
Ellen over James
Enjoy the fights!
The Fighting Champion
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