After years of bad blood, it was inevitable. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal were destined to cross paths in a cage for some mixed martial arts promotion.
Bellator is the brand that will present the fight to the public. Saturday, May 17, is the day, and the Landers Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is the place.
The Rampage-King Mo clash is the main event for the Bellator 120 pay-per-view card. Though it's not a matchup of two of the best fighters in the world, the bout could be explosive.
Rampage isn't the only past-his-prime, former UFC great on the card. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz will take on Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
Cheick Kongo will also put his all-or-nothing skills to the test against Eric Smith.
Here's a look at the card, viewing information and predictions. Just below the table is a closer look at the three biggest bouts on the card.
|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 Shuffield||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
Ortiz vs. Shlemenko
When you consider how great Ortiz was in his prime (longest reigning light heayyweight champion in UFC history), it's sad to see and hear how much of a joke he has become to many in the MMA community.
MMA Roasted's tweet below was just one of the many pokes taken at Ortiz in social media this week:
Right now the odds are 5/1 that Tito Ortiz will injure himself during his walk to the cage Saturday Night.— MMA Roasted (@MMARoasted) May 16, 2014
A laundry list of injuries has led to countless cancellations and nearly two years away from competition. With a few of the distractions and injuries seemingly behind him, Ortiz appears to be in the best shape he's been in for years.
He tweeted this message and image on Thursday.
Even though he'll likely be in good shape, Ortiz's outlook against Shlemenko isn't great.
Ortiz's only chance to win this fight is to catch Shlemenko with something big early. The fight is taking place at light heavyweight, and that could give Ortiz an advantage over Shlemenko, who is the reigning middleweight champion in Bellator.
That advantage figures to only last so long. Stamina and overall skill favor Shlemenko. His varied striking attacks can wear down opponents—especially the ones who are 39 years old and coming off massive layoffs.
Look for Shlemenko to pick Ortiz apart and hand him a humbling defeat via TKO.
Chandler vs. Brooks
This could easily be the best fight on the card. Both Chandler and Brooks are good, young talents who figure to be in the title picture at lightweight for the foreseeable future. Chandler just lost his title by a controversial split decision to Eddie Alvarez in his last bout.
He's eager to get back in the cage with Alvarez for what would be a rubber match. Before that can happen, Chandler has to tangle with Brooks.
Chandler's chin, will and takedowns are his best attributes. He's relentless in his pursuit, and he transitions from strikes to grappling very well.
Brooks will have to be on guard for the takedown attempts throughout the fight. He has the length and speed advantage, but Chandler is adept at countering strikes with parries and hard takedowns.
While Chandler was able to do this consistently against Alvarez, he won't have as much success against Brooks.
The latter possesses the quickness and length at 5'11" to keep Chandler at bay. By the end of the second round, Chandler's face will begin to break up from Brooks' power shots.
That will lead to the stoppage and win for "Ill Will."
Jackson vs. Lawal
These two are perhaps the most colorful and polarizing figures in MMA this side of Chael Sonnen.
Both men understand that personality is as much a part of becoming a star in the sport as technique and ability. While Rampage is past his prime, and King Mo has also arguably seen his best days come and go, the two men's names still draw a crowd on a card.
Match them together, and it becomes the closest thing to a must-see fight Bellator has ever had. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
Lawal could make this a very boring fight. If he chooses to take Rampage to the mat, he could probably dominate him with top position.
To appease fans and Bellator matchmakers, King Mo will probably keep it standing. That decision will be to his detriment. Even though Rampage is not the same destructive force he once was, he's still a more dangerous and durable striker than King Mo.
Rampage will win by first-round TKO.
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