Mixed martial arts purists may not want to acknowledge it, but Bellator 120 could be the biggest pay-per-view in the promotion's history.
It takes place Saturday, May 17 from the Landers Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sure two of the three biggest names involved are essentially UFC castoffs, but it doesn't change the fact that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Tito Ortiz's names still carry weight in the MMA world.
On Saturday night, there figures to be more casual fans tuned into Bellator than ever before. From a business standpoint, that's a good thing.
Jackson will engage in a battle that will almost certainly be filled with stand-up strikes. From the moment he arrived at Bellator, it seemed a meeting with Muhammed Lawal AKA "King Mo" was inevitable.
Finally, these two epic showmen and big-time strikers will scrap in a cage. Here's a lively interview with the two men from two years ago, when previous hostilities had blown over.
(Caution: NSFW language)
Ortiz's assignment isn't quite as exciting. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" will battle 29-year-old Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko. The champion's title will not be on the line as Shlemenko is coming up to 205 pounds to face Ortiz.
The 39-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion is talking the talk leading up to the fight. Per Steven Marrocco of MMA Junkie, Ortiz said:
"I’m going to make him famous on Saturday. Because he’s going to beat his face up with my fists and my elbow.”
Both Jackson and Ortiz's fights figure to be slugfests, and that's more than likely exactly what Bellator matchmakers want.
This should be fun.
Here's a look at the card, viewing information and predictions. Just beneath the table is a closer look at the three biggest bouts on the card.
|Bellator 120 Viewing Information, Card and Predictions|
|Internet Prelims||6:30 p.m. ET|
|Austin Lyons vs. Zach Underwood||Featherweight||Underwood by decision|
|Mike Wessel vs. Justin Frazier||Heavyweight||Frazier by KO|
|Andy Uhrich vs. Ben Brewer||Welterweight||Uhrich by decision|
|Andy Lemon vs. Codie Shuffied||Welterweight||Shuffield by decision|
|Brian Hall vs. Cortez Phelia||bantamweight||Phelia by KO|
|Spike TV Prelims||8 p.m. ET|
|Mike Richman vs. Goiti Yamauchi||Featherweight||Yamauchi by decision|
|Shahbulat Shamhalaev vs. Fabricio Guerreiro||Featherweight||Shamhalaev by decision|
|Marcin Held vs. Nate Jolly||Lightweight||Held by submission|
|Cheick Kongo vs. Eric Smith||Heavyweight||Kongo by KO|
|Main Card PPV||10 p.m. ET|
|Michael Page vs. Ricky Rainey||Welterweight||Page by decision|
|Alexander Volkov vs. Blagoi Ivanov||Heavyweight||Volkov by TKO|
|Tito Ortiz vs, Alexander Shlemenko||Light Heavyweight||Shlemenko by TKO|
|Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks||Lightweight||Brooks by TKO|
|Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal||Light Heavyweight||Jackson by TKO|
|Card per Sherdog, predictions are Brian Mazique's|
Shlemenko Will Slam Ortiz
Perhaps you're a long-time fan of Ortiz, and you'd love to see him have some success years past his prime. If that's who you are, you're not going to want to watch the fight on Saturday.
At this point in Ortiz's career, he's a shell of his former self. Even in his prime, he would probably have had a difficult time against Shlemenko.
It doesn't matter that Shlemenko is technically a middleweight, and Ortiz is a light heavyweight. Shlemenko is simply more skilled.
Ortiz rose to prominence at a time when one-trick ponies were champions. Only well-balanced stallions are legitimate champions in MMA these days.
Shlemenko is one of those thoroughbreds. Excuse all the horse references, the Preakness Stakes takes place on the same day.
In any case, Shlemenko will beat Ortiz to the punch constantly. He'll employ body kicks and counter right hands to bust up the UFC legend. By the third round, Ortiz will be bloodied.
Look for a referee stoppage to save him from further damage.
Brooks Will Stop Chandler in Impressive Fashion
Coming off the first loss of his MMA career to Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler will be hungry for victory. The defeat cost Chandler the Bellator lightweight title. The split decision in the fight was controversial.
It appeared Chandler deserved to beat Alvarez in what was an excellent scrap. Now Chandler is trying to lock up a chance to regain his title.
Brooks has some clear advantages in length and athleticism. He's also a skilled wrestler who might be a little more prepared for Chandler's takedowns than Alvarez was.
This is an intriguing bout because Brooks had his sights set on Chandler back in early 2013. He was caught unprepared by Saad Awad and knocked out. He avenged the loss in Oct. 2013, and he has won four in a row since the setback.
Now he finally gets Chandler, but it's just for the interim title. No matter.
Brooks has all the tools. He's a dynamic striker, a powerful grappler and explosive in everything he does. He'll stop the tough and gritty Chandler for the biggest win of his career.
Rampage Will Conquer the King
This bout is not about technical acumen. This is a simple fight, and that's the charm in it. Both Rampage and King Mo are two of the most colorful personalities the sport has ever seen.
This bout needed to happen, even if it is the MMA equivalent of a cheap thrill.
It seems the bout is destined to be a stand-up fight. Both men have a wrestling background, but prefer to let their fists settle their cage affairs. If King Mo wrestles, he will beat Rampage, but I have a feeling he won't do that.
Others seem to be of the same mind. Luke Thomas of MMAFighting.com said:
"If this is about striking on the outside, I don't have much of a choice but to pick Rampage even if I acknowledge he's not the threat he once was."
Rampage is far from the ferocious, howling, offensive juggernaut he once was; but he can still punch. He also possesses a better chin than Lawal. While Jackson has been stopped more times in his career, he hasn't lost by TKO or KO since 2005 when he was still in Pride.
Lawal has been defeated twice in the last four years by punches. It appears as though another such defeat is in the cards for the King on Saturday.
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