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Bellator Kickboxing fight card preview: Schilling vs Kato 2 and more

This Friday is Bellator Dynamite 2, and immediately after, it’s the return of Bellator Kickboxing. Take a look at the three fight kickboxing card, headlined by Joe Schilling vs Hisaki Kato II here.

Spike TV's 10th Annual Guys Choice Awards - Red Carpet Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Spike TV

This Friday, Bellator presents the second year of their Dynamite series, with a big show headlined by the Bellator return of Rampage Jackson. Immediately following Dynamite will be the second show for Bellator Kickboxing. Bellator Kickboxing: St. Louis is live this Friday, June 24 and airs live on Spike at 11:00 p.m. ET (or thereabouts - it will start right after Dynamite ends). It’s a pretty abbreviated card, with only 3 fights - let’s see what the show has in store for us.

JOE SCHILLING (27-8) vs. HISAKI KATO (Debut) - Middleweight

When Bellator Kickboxing was first announced, I think it’s safe to say this is the exact kind of fight fans expected to see in the company - and that’s not a bad thing. What you have here essentially is a rematch of a previous kickboxer vs. MMA fighter match-up. They fought once in MMA and the MMA fighter won, so now they rematch in kickboxing - makes sense to me. Representing kickboxing is Joe Schilling, former Glory Middleweight champion. Schilling is the biggest American star in kickboxing today, and by a pretty wide margin. He’s been splitting his time between kickboxing in Glory and MMA in Bellator in recent years, but he’s had an ugly parting of ways with Glory and is now full time in Bellator and seemingly focused on kickboxing. Hardcore fans tend to look down on Schilling, but that’s ridiculous - he’s an aggressive, high volume striker who has beaten men like Artem Levin and Simon Marcus and is, at worst, the #3 Middleweight in the world. He does have some defensive holes, but that only makes his fights more entertaining.

Kato is an MMA fighter making his kickboxing debut here - Bellator lists his record at 6-2, but that’s an MMA record. He debuted for Bellator in MMA one year ago and KO’d Schilling in a fight that seemed to be set up for a Schilling win. He’s 1-1 since in MMA, including a Bellator loss to Melvin Manhoef. Kato is a real “live by the sword, die by the sword” kind of fighter, with all his career fights ending by KO within 2 rounds - either his opponent KO’d, or Kato himself.

This should be a good fight, but in Schilling’s comfort zone of kickboxing, it’s his to lose. Expect him to come out, put on the pressure, not allowing Kato in the fight. Joe sometimes fades down the home stretch, and that might happen here enough to give some scares in the later stages, but I expect he’ll still pull it off with little trouble.

Prediction: Joe Schilling, Dec

RAYMOND DANIELS (11-3) vs. STEFANO BRUNO (23-2-1) - Welterweight

Raymond Daniels was a terrific signing for Glory. The highly decorated karateka first made his name in the Chuck Norris World Combat League (which included a controversial fight with UFC top contender Stephen Thompson), but really broke through with a series of spectacular KO’s in Glory. He was a popular name in Glory, but could never quite get the big win there. Daniels won in 30 seconds at Bellator Kickboxing 1. He gets a slightly better opponent in Bruno here, but still one he should be able to handle with relative ease. Bruno is a well travelled, experienced fighter, who had a win at Glory last year. He’s not bad, but he’s the kind of fighter Daniels handles, sometimes spectacularly.

Prediction: Raymond Daniels, KO

KERI MELENDEZ (3-1) vs. SARAH HOWELL (Debut) - Flyweight

Melendez trains with the Skrap Pack out in California. She was in a featured fight at the first Bellator Dynamite event last year, defeating Hadley Griffith in a very lopsided squash match. This time? Probably another very lopsided squash match, as she takes on the debuting Sarah Howell. Another Dynamite, another Melendez win against an overmatched foe - it’s the Dynamite tradition.

Prediction: Keri Melendez, Dec

Join us here at Bloody Elbow on Friday for live Bellator Kickboxing: St. Louis coverage.

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