Last week, the Bellator season 8 debut on Spike TV drew big audiences. Can they keep those numbers for week 2? The show is headlined by a Welterweight world title fight plus a much anticipated debut. Bellator airs live tonight on Spike TV starting at 10:00 p.m. ET with the prelim card airing at 8:00 p.m. ET on Spike.com. Join us here at Bloody Elbow tonight for live Bellator coverage.
Here's the full Bellator fight card, with weigh-in results, followed by a preview of the main card action:
Bellator Welterweight Championship Fight: Ben Askren (169.8) vs. Karl Amoussou (167.4)
Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Przemyslaw Mysiala (205.6) vs. King Mo (205.0)
Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Douglas Lima (170.6) vs. Michail Tsarev (170.0)
Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Koffie Adzitso (170.8) vs. Ben Saunders (169.8)
Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Marius Zaromskis (169.2) vs. Brent Weedman (171.0)
Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal Fight: Raul Amaya (171.0) vs. Jose Gomes (170.8)
Middleweight Feature Fight: Matt Jones (182.8) vs. Cortez Coleman (186.0)
Catchweight Feature Fight (140 lbs.): Chris Pham (139.6) vs. Jason Sampson (137.4)
Lightweight Feature Fight: Zach Church (154.6) vs. Damon Jackson (155.2)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Hunter Tucker (145.0) vs. Javier Obregon (146.0)
Ben Askren (10-0 MMA; 7-0 Bellator) vs. Karl Amoussou (16-4-2 MMA; 4-1 Bellator) - Welterweight Title
There are few fighters in MMA who are both as talented and as hated as Ben Askren. The undefeated Bellator Welterweight champion has used his wrestling to tremendous success in MMA; he's now making his 3rd title defense, and so far in his career, he has very rarely been threatened. He uses his wrestling in all kinds of different ways, incorporating everything from lateral drops to single leg takedowns to catch wrestling style submission defense. For a grappling purist, it's an interesting and unique style. But it can also be boring to some, and that's earned him his fair share of hate.
Amoussou is the opposite - a fast-paced, explosive fighter who looks for the win whenever he can. A danger on both the feet and the ground, Amoussou has some beautiful Bellator highlights, including a 1 minute submission defeat of Bryan Baker via inverted heel hook to earn this shot.
There's rally no question how each man will approach the fight. Amoussou will try to keep it standing, while Askren will secure the takedown. If Askren succeeds (and chances are very, very good he will), Amoussou should look to explode off of his back to either scramble to his feet or lock on a submission. In that quest, he has an interesting weapon in his arsenal - a gorgeous and fast sweep that he's used on more than one occassion. Here's our grappling expert T.P. Grant on that sweep:
[U]sing this technique against experienced foes becomes a matter of waiting for the right opportunity. And timing is what made Karl Amoussou's sweep of Chris Lozano at Bellator 63 so impressive. It starts with Amoussou controlling Lozano's left arm and with Lozano's posture already broken down.
You can see Lozano's weight shift as he turns his shoulders and raises up slightly, likely to begin striking with his right arm. Amoussou detects the shift in weight and launches into the sweep like cobra striking prey.
But can this technique work against Askren? Again, here's Grant:
It is possible, Askren is very active and his style of grappling is very unorthodox, he shifts his balance in odd ways at times and it is possible this sweep would work in the right situation. In that video from a few years ago when Askren rolled with Marcelo Garcia, he put himself in very odd situations where Marcelo was able to sweep him easily. Now clearly that is different for a few reasons: Aksren was training and experimenting, not rolling for keeps, it wasn't in an MMA context, and it was Marcelo frikin' Garcia.
But for that sweep to work you have to be in the guard and Askren is getting better and better at passing to at least half guard, but also to side, shutting down a lot of the sweeps your standard MMA fighter has. I don't except Askren to spend much time on his back, if at all, in this fight.
And for my money, that about sums it up. No one has yet figured out the riddle of Ben Askren, and I don't see that changing tonight.
Prediction: Ben Askren by decision
King Mo Muhammed Lawal (8-1(1) MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala (16-7 MMA; Bellator Debut) - Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal
King Mo's debut has been a huge selling point of the Bellator launch on Spike. Here, we see the results of all that hype. On paper, this should be an easy fight for Mo, one simply here to move him along to the next round of the tournament. The former Strikeforce champion has a strong wrestling base, but has also been working extensively on his striking lately, training at the prestigious Mike's Gym in Amsterdam, home of such kickboxing greats as Badr Hari and Artur Kyshenko. The one strike against Mo is his time off - it's been just over a year since his last fight, a No Contest due to Mo failing a post-fight drug test that indirectly led to Mo's release from Strikeforce.
Mysiala is a big fighter coming off a similar one year lay off. His last fight was a loss to Jason Jones. And, in what does not bode well for the Polish fighter, that loss came as a result of Mysiala being outwrestled.
Really, this is Mo's fight to lose. Last week, Mikhail Zayats upset Babalu Sobral, proving that there's never a sure thing in MMA, but I don't see the streak continuing here.
Prediction: King Mo by TKO
This season 8 Welterweight tournament quarterfinal fight is a good one. The tough and violent Lima is the season 5 tournament winner. He lost in his title shot (against Askren of course), but has since bounced back with a crushing win over Jacob Ortiz. That Ortiz fight showcased the nasty side of Lima, as he beat Ortiz down. He's primarily a stand-up fighter, capable of putting together nice combinations to get the KO win, though against Askren, we saw a definite hole in his ground game.
Tsarev was a semi-finalist in last season's tournament, losing to Lyman Good in a questionable stoppage. A skilled ground fighter, Tsarev won his Bellator debut by initiating the clinch, dragging the fight to the ground, then securing the submission win. When he fights in that style, he's very dangerous. Against Good, he never got comfortable. Good pressured him with top control in the first round, then outstruck the tired Tsarev in the second.
The key question for this fight is can Tsarev take Lima down? If he can, his submission skills could definitely lead him to the biggest win of his career. If not, Lima will have the striking advantage, and should be able to eventually put Tsarev down and out. I suspect that's the more likely outcome in the end.
Prediction: Douglas Lima by TKO
Ben Saunders (14-5-2 MMA; 5-2 Bellator) vs. Koffie Adzitso (18-9 MMA; Bellator Debut) - Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal
Friend of BE "Killa B" Ben Saunders has established himself as a fixture of the Bellator Welterweight division. After a 4-3 UFC career, Saunders came to Bellator in 2011. There, he used his Muay Thai based striking skills (particularly his infamous knees), combined with an aggressive jiu jitsu game, to become one of the division's best and most exciting fighters. However, one thing has eluded him - a tournament victory. He's been thwarted in that quest by Lima and Bryan Baker. Saunders comes into this fight off a 22 second crushing TKO win over Brian Warren via, what else?, brutal knee strikes.
Adzitso is not as well known, though he does have experience against a decent level of competition, including UFC veterans Josh Burkman and Kevin Burns (who Adzitso KO'd in 1 round). He's coming off a win, and has won 5 of his last 6. Footage shows that Adztso is a talented fighter, however one that matches up terribly against Saunders. Like Saunders, Adztso is an aggressive striker who likes to go for the KO. He uses a lot of movement in his fights, but also keeps his defense far too loose for my tastes, which will hurt him against a proficient striker like Saunders.
This has Saunders brutal KO written all over it, and I suspect he complies. With his knees, of course.
Prediction: Ben Saunders by KO
This one was originally slated for the prelims, but has been bumped up to the main card. That's actually a wise move, as this is a good fight with high potential for excitement. Zaromskis always brings the entertainment, while Weedman has solid Bellator experience and some nice highlights. Zaromskis is coming off a nasty KO loss to Andrey Koreshkov, and I don't see him ever being a true top level fighter, but his striking is impressive. Weedman is back up at Welterweight after briefly dropping down to Lightweight for a 2-1 run. He has good experience, and is a solid fighter, but I don't love that yo-yo-ing in weight.
Prediction: Marius Zaromskis by KO
The highlight of the prelims is the other Welterweight tournament quarterfinal.
Jose Gomes (32-8-1 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Raul Amaya (10-1 MMA; 1-1 Bellator) - Gomes is a 9 year pro with a massive number of pro fights to his credit, primarily in Brazil. Yet in all of those fights, he has not faced a very high caliber of opponent, with his only notable opponents being Erick Silva and Jacare (both losses). Amaya has a loss to Saunders in Bellator already, and is coming off a Bellator win in July. Honestly, I don't see either man having a huge future in the tournament, though will go with Amaya for the win here.
Join us tonight for live coverage of Bellator live on Spike TV.