Bellator 120: Preliminary Card Predictions
Bellator 120 marks the first time the company takes its product to the pay-per-view airwaves. The historic event is headlined by King Mo Lawal and Rampage Jackson, who look to settle their grudge in the light heavyweight tournament finals.
The main card has many recognizable names from Tito Ortiz to Michael Chandler. However, before that, we have a preliminary card filled with unknowns and solid vets of the company.
UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati was a rough night for me, mostly on the main card. Luckily, the prelims saw me stay above .500, though the middle of the prelims really hurt my record.
Let's take a look at the preliminary card and make some picks for Bellator 120.
2014 Riley's Record: 55-38
Last Event: UFC Fight Night 40 (4-3)
Internet Steam Prelims (5)
Austin Lyons vs. Zach Underwood
In a rematch from an earlier encounter, TUF 15 vet Austin Lyons takes on Zach Underwood. Underwood has grown greatly since their last fight, but Lyons has stayed at a respectable level himself. I expect to see a similar bout from the first time they fought, with Lyons taking yet another close decision.
Lyons, Unanimous Decision
Mike Wessel vs. Justin Frazier
TUF 10 and UFC vet Mike Wessel takes another fight with Bellator and looks to be a measuring stick for once-beaten Justin Frazier. Wessel has fought under the bright lights before, but has stumbled in the past. Frazier has looked solid in the regionals, knocking out dudes left and right. Wessel is a tough guy, but Frazier will be too much for him here.
Frazier, TKO, Rd. 1
Andy Uhrich vs. Ben Brewer
Undefeated Ben Brewer looks to keep his record perfect, but in his way is Bellator veteran Andy Uhrich. Uhrich is a grinder that is notorious for trying to put his weight on opponents to wear them out. Brewer has looked solid early in his career, but Uhrich is the toughest guy he has fought. Uhrich will use his grinding style to ride Brewer all night.
Uhrich, Unanimous Decision
Anthony Lemon vs. Codie Shuffield
Two fighters from the area look to gain a win in their Bellator premiere when sub.-500 fighter Anthony Lemon takes on undefeated Codie Shuffied. Lemon has struggled, but has fought tough guys like Brock Larson and Ben Brewer. However, Shuffield has shown has the potential to be a solid little hand. He should be able to make an example of Lemon here.
Shuffield, Submission, Rd. 2
Brian Hall vs. Cortez Phelia
Cortez Phelia looks to make good in his sophomore professional outing, but in front of him are a Strikeforce and Bellator vet in Brian Hall. Hall's experience is going to be the big X-factor here. Phelia will learn a lesson in a loss that will make him better.
Hall, TKO, Rd. 1
Mike Richman vs. Goiti Yamauchi
The opening bout on Spike TV takes place in the featherweight division, as kickboxer Mike Richman fights a pivotal bout opposite Brazilian prospect Goiti Yamauchi.
Yamauchi was a top prospect and phenom of the sport when he entered Bellator, as the 21-year-old Japanese-Brazilian was successful upon entry. However, he was in this season's featherweight tournament and dispatched in the first round by submission wrestler Will Martinez, effectively derailing the hype train for now.
Richman is a multiple-time tournament veteran with great kickboxing and an iron will. He was also outwrestled in the quarterfinals of this season's tournament as Des Green ran a close decision over "The Marine."
This is a conflict of styles, as Yamauchi is a skilled grappler and Richman is a power striker. Richman's counterwrestling is better than Goiti's offensive wrestling and he should be able to outstrike him to a decision.
Prediction: Richman def. Yamauchi via decision
Shahbulat Shamhalaev vs. Fabricio Guerreiro
Next up are a pair of tournament veterans, as Russian featherweight Shahbulat Shamhalaev takes on Brazilian counterpart Fabricio Guerreiro.
Guerreiro has truly taken on some of Bellator's best since arriving to the company, currently holding a 1-2 record with the company with a win over Des Green and losses to Patricio Freire and Magomedrasul Khasbulaev.
Shamhalaev is a former tournament champion who KO'd all three of his opponents in the tournament he was in before getting choked out by champion Pat Curran. He is a knockout artist who will want to keep this fight standing against Guerreiro.
The question is, can Guerreiro get Shamhalaev to the ground to work his superior submission game? My guess is no, as Shamhalaev has faced much better wrestlers and can catch the Brazilian on the chin.
That's what will happen.
Prediction: Shamhalaev def. Guerreiro via KO
Marcin Held vs. Nate Jolly
Up next is a late addition to the card as lightweight tournament finalist for this season Marcin Held takes on former main carder Nate Jolly. Held was supposed to fight for the tournament championship against Patricky Freire, but the Brazilian was injured and unable to compete.
Jolly, who was originally supposed to fight Will Brooks on the main card, now draws a completely different ground fighter in the Pole. Jolly is a grinder who likes to use point striking and wrestling to outwork opponents.
Held is a finalist in this season's tournament and is taking this fight in the meanwhile to stay active. He tapped out Rodrigo Cavalheiro with a brutal toe hold before beautifully trapping Derek Anderson in a triangle choke to make the finals, which will be contested for at a later date.
Jolly probably wants to wrestle Held, but that's a dangerous proposition. There, the Pole can do many crazy things, as he is well-versed in submissions.
Expect Jolly to tap to another beautiful Held hold.
Prediction: Held def. Jolly via submission
Cheick Kongo vs. Eric Smith
In the main attraction of the undercard we get a pair of heavyweights, as UFC and former tournament champion Cheick Kongo takes on newcomer Eric Smith.
Smith is a very good MMA fighter and very underrated coming into this fight. He will be a tad undersized, as he can fight at light heavyweight, but he is skilled on the ground and can handle himself on the feet. He even owns a win over UFC employee Cody Donovan.
Kongo is a man we all recognize from the UFC. He is 2-1 in his Bellator run, dominating Mark Godbeer and Peter Graham before losing a decision in the heavyweight championship fight against Vitaly Minakov.
Smith is a very underrated fighter here and has a chance. However, Kongo has been around the block a few times and has fought high-level competition consistently. He will weather the storm and finish Smith with his hands.
Prediction: Kongo def. Smith via TKO