Bellator 120 Predictions: Main Card Staff Predictions

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2014

Bellator 120 Predictions: Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Jens Schlueter/Associated Press

    It's pretty rare to find a non-UFC pay-per-view MMA event these days, but that's what we have in Saturday night's Bellator 120. 

    Originally slated to featured the rubber match between lightweight stars Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, the card will instead be headlined by a light heavyweight clash between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal. 

    So how big a splash will Bellator make by putting on a pay-to-watch card featuring Rampage and Tito Ortiz? Well, you're probably in no danger of being drenched, but the event is monumental enough for us to break out our Bleacher Report main card staff picks.

    That's right—the picks from "Really" Riley Kontek, "Just" James MacDonald, "So" Scott Harris, "Seriously" Sean Smith and "Could Be" Craig Amos are in. 

    Check out whom we're picking in each of the five Bellator main card bouts, and let us know whom you're picking in the comments section.

     

2014 Staff Records

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    USA TODAY Sports

    So far this year, we've kept tabs on how each member of our picks team has done. Let's just say last weekend's upset-heavy UFC Fight Night 40 didn't do any of us any favors.

    We'll all be looking to rebound this week, though this isn't a card that will see anyone make up ground or extend his lead, as it's consensus through and through.

    This time, we succeed or fail together—a marked change from hoping desperately that my colleagues all falter badly.

    Heading into Bellator 120, the 2014 scores are as follows:

    Craig Amos: 48-23-1

    Riley Kontek: 48-23-1

    Scott Harris: 46-25-1

    James MacDonald: 46-25-1

    Sean Smith: 42-29-1

Michael Page vs. Ricky Rainey

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    Riley Kontek

    Is the hype real? Will Michael Page pass the biggest test of his career? Bellator has given Page a seemingly favorable matchup in Rainey, who does like to box on the feet. However, he also has some solid wrestling. That being said, Page is extremely quick and precise, something that is tough to rep in the gym. Page will stick and move, looking for the kill shot. He will eventually find it and wow the crowd.

    Page, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This fight seems tailor-made for Page to put on an exhibition. In Rainey, he is facing a man who primarily likes to conduct his business on the feet. I fear we won’t learn anything new in this fight, just further confirmation of how astonishing Page is as a striker. We need to see him against a formidable grappler in order to assess his overall potential.

    Page, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith

    Bellator MMA has given these talented strikers their spots on the main card in hopes that one will score an impressive knockout and explode in popularity. That will require fans to actually purchase this fight card, though, and I wouldn't bet that an overwhelming majority will. That said, this matchup should deliver the highlight-reel finish Bellator MMA executives are clearly expecting.

    Page, knockout, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    One day, Page will be tested by a power grappler. Until then, let the fireworks fly. Saturday will not be that day against Rainey, who is mainly a head-hunter and thus a willing dance partner for the dynamic Page.

    Page, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Page wouldn't be the first dazzling striker to suffer a surprising loss early in his career, so I'm thinking Rainey shouldn't be counted out in this matchup. Still, the Brit's athleticism and speed are convincing enough that I don't believe a wake-up call is coming his way quite yet. I want to say it'll go to a decision, but if it does, I think it'll be Rainey's, and I just can't convince myself to take the underdog here. So knockout it is.

    Page, knockout, Rd. 2

Alexander Volkov vs. Blagoi Ivanov

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    Riley Kontek

    How cool is it that Blagoi Ivanov has come back from near death to earn a tournament finals spot and a potential title shot? Ivanov is a special talent, as he is a combination of superior sambo, tough-as-nails exterior, power and technique. Alexander Volkov is a big heavyweight with great range, but the Bulgarian brute is just too much the grinder to fail here.

    Ivanov, unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    The main thing going for this fight is Ivanov’s feel-good story. Having been on the brink of death, the Bulgarian returned to the cage in 2013 and rattled off four wins on the trot. He is facing, in Volkov, a pretty stiff test. The Russian is a tough out, but I expect the more well-rounded Ivanov to grind out the win.

    Ivanov, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Ivanov's comeback story isn't like most in MMA. The Bulgarian was stabbed and nearly died only a couple years ago. Now, he's on his way toward becoming the Bellator MMA heavyweight champion. As long as he can take Volkov to the ground, I think he'll get that shot at the strap.

    Ivanov, submission, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    Volkov has a lot of physical tools and some great wins, but at 25, he is still putting it all together. Ivanov is a powerful guy and should be able to drag Volkov into his web, wrap him up and keep him there.

    Ivanov, unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    Volkov's size and striking prowess undoubtedly pose problems for Ivanov in this matchup, but the Russian will be in serious trouble if the action hits the canvas. 

    Ivanov, submission, Rd. 2

Alexander Shlemenko vs. Tito Ortiz

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    Yes, Alexander Shlemenko is much smaller than Tito Ortiz. However, he is faster, tougher and a much better fighter than Ortiz at this point. Ortiz has one win in the last six years or so. Sure, he has been fighting tough guys, but he hasn't looked like a world beater anyways. The Russian has a big head to aim at and will tag him a bunch of times.

    Shlemenko, unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This almost looks like a handicap match, given the size difference. This probably should have been booked on a Japanese New Year’s Eve show, if we’re being honest. But despite the size disparity, Shlemenko has far too many tools for an over-the-hill Ortiz. Don’t be surprised if the excuses begin to flow after the fight, either.

    Shlemenko, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Though he's only won once in his past nine fights, Ortiz will return to competition on Saturday following nearly two years on the sidelines. Despite having a size advantage over Shlemenko, Ortiz is deservedly an underdog. The former UFC champion has no longer been capable of dominating opponents with ground-and-pound, and his speed disadvantage in this matchup could cost him should he have to stand with Shlemenko.

    Shlemenko, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    These are all pretty good fights but easy to pick. This might be the easiest. Ortiz is pretty shot, in my opinion. Shlemenko is a stone-cold killer. The most entertaining part of this contest will be Ortiz's post-fight speech, which will inevitably begin with "I didn't want to say anything before the fight..."

    Shlemenko, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    It's strange to think that Shlemenko has more than twice the number of pro fights than Ortiz has, given how long Ortiz has been around. More importantly, though, Shlemenko has won 13 straight while Ortiz has just one win over his past nine bouts, albeit against stiffer competition. Still, those recent results are pretty hard to ignore. 

    Shlemenko, TKO, Rd. 2

Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    You may not realize this, but Michael Chandler and Will Brooks are very similar in terms of fight style. Chandler has more power, while Brooks is quicker. Brooks taking a knockout loss to Saad Awad not too long ago leads me to believe that Chandler can similarly take him out. That's what he will do to re-earn his fight against Eddie Alvarez. 

    Chandler, TKO, Rd. 2 

     

    James MacDonald

    Brooks is a lot better than many seem to think, but he’s overmatched against Chandler. Speed aside, the latter does everything that much better. Look for Chandler to use his superior strength and striking power to earn the stoppage fairly early, keeping the trilogy with Alvarez alive.

    Chandler, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith

    Already one of the top fighters in the Bellator MMA lightweight division at 27 years old, Brooks should be a fighter worth watching for the next several years. While he can beat most 155-pounders in his promotion, Chandler has the ability to compete with the best in the UFC's lightweight class. On short notice, this matchup will amount to a learning experience for Brooks.

    Chandler, knockout, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    If I were in charge of picking Eddie Alvarez's replacement, I would have chosen Brooks. But Chandler is too explosive of an athlete for Brooks to keep him under wraps forever.

    Chandler, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Craig Amos

    With all due respect to Mr. Brooks, it's a damn shame that we don't get to see Chandler vs. Alvarez III, like we were supposed to. Unless Chandler comes in too relaxed, expecting an easy night at the office, he should be able to take this one convincingly.

    Chandler, submission, Rd. 2

Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Riley Kontek

    This rivalry is hot! Yes, I just used what the kids nowadays call sarcasm. King Mo Lawal is the most overrated MMA fighter of the last few years in my opinion. Rampage is better on the feet and has enough takedown defense to stay upright. Night night, sweet king!

    Jackson, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    Few rivalries seem more contrived than this one. Still, it remains the second-biggest fight Bellator could possibly make—the planned main event being first. This is a tough matchup for "King Mo." Despite his wrestling credentials, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion isn’t the most potent MMA wrestler around. The fight should largely take place on the feet, then, where Jackson should have the edge.

    Jackson, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Sean Smith

    For whatever reason, Lawal has strayed from his wrestling against top-notch competition. With the pressure on him to deliver a memorable performance on Saturday, he may look to stand again. That'd be a big mistake against Jackson, who still has the power to end a fight with one punch despite not being the fighter he once was.

    Jackson, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    Both of these guys were better when they used their wrestling. The last time Jackson did anything of note in that department, it was purely for nostalgia purposes (that slam on Ryan Bader in Japan a couple years back). Related to that or not, both these guys have lost their fastball. Hopefully they don't both gas early and stumble around for an extended period. I'll call for a quick ending from Jackson to spare us all that fate.

    Jackson, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos

    Jackson claims to be refocused for this fight and comes in having won two straight bouts since joining Bellator, but it's still difficult to envision vintage Rampage showing up. Nevertheless, I think he holds a large enough striking edge to do damage and keep Lawal on the defensive and eventually put him away.

    Jackson, TKO, Rd. 2