Bellator returns to action after a month layoff with Bellator 179. The event takes place at the SSE Arena in London, England, UK. The main event features the debut of former UFC star Rory MacDonald. Bellator didn’t do the “Red Dragon” any favors for his debut by pitting him against the always dangerous Paul Daley. The co-main event was to feature London’s own Michael Page taking on Derek Anderson, but that fight was scrapped due to an injury sustained by Page. In the new co-main we’ll see Linton Vassell go up against Liam McGeary in a battle of light heavyweights.
The five fight main card rounds out with longtime UFC and Bellator veteran Cheick Kongo taking on Augusto Sakai in the heavyweight division, moving up from the prelims Dan Edwards takes on Alex Lohore in the welterweight division, and in a catchweight bout newcomer DJ Griffin goes up against Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr.
The prelims will stream live on Bellator.com starting at 6 PM CT with Spike TV taking over at 8 PM CT for the main card.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all of my official bets follow me on Twitter @FightChampBlog. You can also find all of my official MMA bets at betmmatips.com.
Rory MacDonald #6 (18-4) vs. Paul Daley (39-14-2) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: MacDonald -350, Daley +250
UFC veteran Rory MacDonald makes his long awaited debut when he steps into the cage to face Paul Daley. Although MacDonald is coming off of back to back losses, he has beaten the best welterweights in the world including: Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia and Jake Ellenberger. His last two losses also came against the world’s best losing to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 and Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night 89. It’s been almost a full year since the last time Rory was in the cage so I’ll be interested to see how the layoff affects him. A win here should put the “Red Dragon” in line for a shot at the title against either Douglas Lima or Lorenz Larkin who are set to face each other at Bellator NYC next month.
England’s Paul Daley will step into the cage for the fifty-sixth time when he takes on MacDonald. The longtime MMA vet is coming off of a highlight reel knockout of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170. He’s 6-1 over his previous seven fights with the one loss coming against current champion Douglas Lima. The heavy handed Daley boasts twenty-nine KO/TKOs in thirty-nine professional wins.
Although Paul Daley has said he isn’t going to come out and try to turn the fight into a slug-fest, I don’t believe him. Throwing hands is Daley’s best chance at victory. He knows it, and MacDonald knows it. I expect Rory to go back to utilizing his grappling skills in this one. He should have success getting Daley to the ground, and either get the submission or a unanimous decision.
While I’m not writing Daley off all together due to his knockout power, I like this match-up for MacDonald. He is the better over-all fighter and unless Daley can land a big shot on the feet, it’s Rory’s fight to lose.
Pick: MacDonald by decision
Linton Vassell (17-5) vs. Liam McGeary (12-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: McGeary -210; Vassell +160
Liam McGeary won his first six fights in a row, all by stoppage upon joining Bellator. He then fought for the light heavyweight title in the main event at Bellator 134 where he defeated Emanuel Newton by unanimous decision. McGeary successfully defended the title once when he submitted Tito Ortiz in the first round at Bellator 142. His second defense came at Bellator 163 where he lost a very one-sided affair against Phil Davis. McGeary returned at Bellator 173 where he stopped Brett McDermott. The former champion will look to get one step closer back to a title fight with a win in front of his hometown fans.
Linton Vassell is riding a two fight win streak with decisions over Emanuel Newton at Bellator 149 and Francis Carmont at Bellator 165. After going 3-0 under the Bellator banner, Vassell was given a title shot against Emanuel Newton at Bellator 130. Vassell lost his one and only opportunity at gold and hopes to get himself back into contention with a win over the former champion, McGeary.
McGeary’s strength is his striking. He has below average take down defense which ultimately cost him the title against Phil Davis. The former champion likes to apply pressure while working at a fast pace. I expect him to try and keep the fight standing, while avoiding the ground at all costs. I expect Vassell to take the same approach that Davis did in his fight with McGeary. Vassell is going to want to slow the fight down and try and get it to the ground. Fortunately for McGeary, Vassell isn’t nearly the wrestler Phil Davis is, but it will still be interesting to see if McGeary can defend the take down attempts.
I think McGeary will have success on the feet leading to a unanimous decision, but I would not be surprised to see Vassell pull off the upset either. As of right now the number isn’t high enough to warrant backing Vassell, but it’s something to keep an eye on the closer we get to the fight. Also, Linton Vassell is very difficult to finish so I would consider the rounds total over.
Pick: McGeary by decision
Cheick Kongo (26-10-2) vs. Augusto Sakai (9-0-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Kongo -275; Sakai +195
After losing to King Mo by split decision at Bellator 134 Cheick Kongo has rattled off four straight wins. All four wins were by decision with the most recent coming against Oli Thompson at Bellator 172. While he’s not the flashiest fighter, Kongo continues to rack up wins while positioning himself as a contender for the heavyweight title.
Brazilian fighter, Augusto Sakai is 4-0 under the Bellator banner. His last fight ended in a majority draw against Dan Charles at Bellator 155. With seven finishes in nine wins, Sakai will go for the finish whenever possible.
Kongo likes to work in the clinch and take the fight to the ground where he can work his ground and pound. Cheick doesn’t possess overwhelming power, of his 26 career wins only 12 are by KO/TKO. Kongo likes to slow the pace and grind his opponents down. Kongo will be a step up in competition for Sakai and unfortunately for him I see this fight going like most of Kongo’s fights. The rounds total over might be a smart play here.
Pick: Kongo by decision
Alex Lohore (11-1) vs. Dan Edwards (14-14) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: N/A
Alex Lohore won his Bellator debut by subbing Colin Fletcher at Bellator 173. The New Wave Academy product boasts nine finishes in eleven professional wins. Aside from his last fight which was held in Ireland, Lohore has fought his entire career in England.
After losing six straight, Dan Edwards has now won two in a row. Fighting out of Rumble Sports, Edwards will be looking for his third win a row when he makes his Bellator debut against Lohore. Like Lohore, Edwards is also a finisher with all fourteen of his wins ending inside the distance.
Although Dan Edwards has won all of his fights by either KO/TKO or submission, none of those opponents were the caliber of Lohore. With Edward’s getting stopped in eleven of his fourteen losses, I won’t be surprised to see it happen again. The rounds total under might be a play here.
Pick: Lohore by TKO
DJ Griffin (0-0) vs. Kevin Ferguson Jr. (0-1) – Catchweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: N/A
As the son of Kimbo Slice, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. came into his Bellator debut fight with a lot of hype. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to back up the hype, losing to Aaron Hamilton by submission at Bellator 165. With only two fights under his belt, the Team Bodyshop product will be looking for his first professional win.
DJ Griffin went 2-2 as an amateur with both wins ending inside the distance. Now mind you, he was also stopped in both losses. He’ll be making both his professional and Bellator debuts when he steps into the cage against Ferguson Jr.
Both fighters have very little experience. I assume Bellator would want to take things slowly with Ferguson and build him up. I believe that’s what they thought they were doing in his debut. This time around they are putting him in the cage against a fighter with less experience than Hamilton, hoping the young prospect can get his first win. I’ll go with Baby Slice with little conviction.
Pick: Ferguson by decision
Prelims Quick Look
Barbosa over Kulucan
Shipman over Prostko
Morton over Petley
Cejrowski over Edwards
Jones over Kayani
Albazi over Powell
Economou over Konecke
Davis over Dods
Grove over Parobeic
Enjoy the fights!
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