clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday night’s Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen card in Inglewood, California.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bellator 170 is a major “tentpole” event, which means we’re whipping out a special staff predictions post for tomorrow night’s card. Only Eddie Mercado (who is on-site for Bloody Elbow at this event) is picking Tito Ortiz over Chael Sonnen in the main event. As for the co-main event, we lean slightly towards Paul Daley getting the win over Brennan Ward.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he's going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen

Mookie Alexander: This has a real high chance of being a bad fight. Neither man is a striker, and I’d rather this not be a kickboxing battle. We could get a lot of clinchwork and stalemates on the ground that don’t amount to much offense. Sonnen’s been away from the cage for 3+ years, whereas Tito has looked like the part of a faded former champion in his last two fights in Bellator. There’s almost no real way to do proper analysis on a soon-to-be re-retiring fighter and one whose last fight was on the same day that GSP fought Johny Hendricks … so here we go: Chael is going to tell Tito his zipper is down, even though Tito is wearing trunks. Tito looks down, and then Chael flying crane kicks him in the face, further cracking Tito’s cracked skull. Sonnen will then call out Wanderlei on the mic. Chael Sonnen by KO.

Ram Gilboa: Although this practice has been criticized heavily by fans and media alike, Bellator marches on with tape delays, this time postponing the broadcast of Sonnen/Ortiz about 1095 days. So for those of you who don’t get Spike, you can catch the main event on History channel too. Now that we’re finished with the disparagements, let’s get to the business part: As Scott Coker said, should Ortiz or Sonnen be fighting 21-year-old killers from Brazil? Probably not. Look at what happened not so long ago in the same Forum with the great Bernard Hopkins. Look at what just happened with BJ Penn. At a certain point, you step into the arena a dangerous man, you step down looking like an old man. But should Ortiz and Sonnen be fighting each other? Sure, in an end of the year show in Japan. But still, I’ll watch for certain. Maybe it’s just me being old myself, but Ortiz and Sonnen still carry more personality, uniqueness and recognition than any of your average 25 year old UFC cloned athletic machines. In a world full of solid all-around look the same feel prospects, I miss me some old-school ass-whoopers with voids in their game. But call it an exhibition or something – win or lose, these two guys aren’t climbing or chuting anywhere afterwards. I’ll watch, gleefully yet wistfully, and condescendingly, and wonder exactly why later.

Now, of the two, Ortiz has actually been the more active lately. He looked fine against heavily favored Liam McGeary in September 2015, and won the first round until he didn’t. Sonnen is a very different challenge than McGeary though, and Ortiz isn’t getting a double on him. Or maybe he does, who knows in what shape 39 years old Sonnen is – more than 3 years removed from his last outing. Probably better than Ortiz, right? I can say this: Knees deteriorate first. Both Sonnen’s and Ortiz’s double legs are definitely not what they have been in their glory days; but Sonnen has that Greco upper body strength going for him. And also, his skull isn’t fractured. He’s also the more modern, and all-around better fighter, probably. Alright, let’s party like it’s 1999. Sonnen by TKO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: Ah the Bellator tentpole event prediction thread! Where you get to look at two completely impossible to evaluate fighters and decide which one is less shot, which one actually trained hard, which one still can look halfway decent. This is a better match-up than most of these - certainly beats Ortiz vs. Bonnar, Shamrock vs. Kimbo, Shamrock vs. Gracie… wait, maybe it’s actually the MOST competitive and compelling match they have yet seen headline one of these. Wow. OK, so we kind of know what to expect from Tito, since he’s actually been fighting, while Chael is a mystery. But I’ll still put my money on a faded Sonnen to avoid the ground and pound and clinch out a kind of dull win. This is 3 rounds, right? I hope? Chael Sonnen by decision

Eddie Mercado: This is the last I have to pick him so… Thanks for the memories my dude! Tito Ortiz by Submission, round 3.

Staff picking Ortiz: Eddie
Staff picking Sonnen: Ram, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Fraser

Paul Daley vs. Brennan Ward

Mookie Alexander: Daley looks shopworn. The Lima fight showed that his chin is going on him a little bit, and even some of his more recent wins haven’t been overly impressive. Ward isn’t great defensively, but he hits like a truck, and I think he’ll put Daley away in a big exchange. I’d be stunned if this fight goes longer than two rounds, especially given the way Ward fights. He’s a boom-or-bust sort of fighter, and I think he’ll deliver the boom tomorrow night. Brennan Ward by KO, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: Daley has got a left hook on him for sure. Can he land it on Ward though is a different something. Ward looks good at welter, he can move and kick a little, and he might have the wrestling edge here, and as long as he can keep Daley guessing, it’ll be his fight. He will need to have the discipline and stamina to keep it up for 15 minutes though, and not let it turn into a dunking contest between his cross and Daley’s hook. Ward grew up in a boxing home but his chin seems to float a bit during exchanges – Daley will tag it, and then that’s it. Daley by KO/TKO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Daley has been fighting for a long-ass time, and I suspect that might be cloaking a bit of a decline. The Lima fight was entertaining, but it also somehow felt like one of those ones where someone puts out their "last good performance." In general, decently powerful fighters who can mix it up with the wrestling and striking have generally been tough for Daley. This is something of a gut pick, but Brennan Ward by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Gut instinct here, but something tells me at the end of the day, Ward has been too babied by Bellator and truthfully is just not that good. And Daley is. Paul Daley, KO, R2

Staff picking Daley: Nick, Ram, Fraser, Eddie
Staff picking Ward: Phil, Mookie, Stephie

Ralek Gracie vs. Hisaki Kato

Mookie Alexander: Pretty simple here. Gracie either submits Kato or Kato whoops Ralek all around the cage. I’m going with the latter. If Kato loses this fight then he can go KO Joe Schilling in hopscotch or something. Hisaki Kato by KO, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: Kato is the guy who not so long ago knocked out Joe Schilling right? Twice? And one time in a kickboxing ring? And last time Ralek Gracie fought in his 3 fights career was 7 years ago, when he beat 40 year old Sakuraba? Before Kato even started fighting professionally? I see.

Of course there’s the chance that Gracie gets this fight to the ground and submits Kato. But MMA is very different from the days the Brazilian royalty helped build it. Fights no longer almost inertially go to the ground, it’s hard work getting them there, and almost impossible in the high levels without mixing it up with punches – Kron Gracie pulls guard as a work-around, which is a whole lot better than failing to take down, then standing there and getting punched in the face repetitively – but that’s the rarity and has its own inherent dangers. Kato by KO/TKO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: I am an old school UFC fan, so I still love the Gracies, but sometimes I get confused on which one is which. This is the one who’s never really done all that much, just 3 fights, one against an opponent who is now 4-11-1, and the other against a majorly faded Sakuraba (which made me sad, because Sakuraba should never lose to a Gracie. Ever.) He hasn’t fought in nearly 7 years, but he has released a song where he raps. Terribly. (“Dream World” - you know you want to Google it) Poor Helio - I do not think that is the legacy he envisioned for his grandson. Anyway, Gracie really doesn’t have much of a chance here, but I’m feeling nostalgic so… Rickson Ralek by armbar

Phil Mackenzie: Kato with the pro kickboxing experience! Honestly, I have no real idea what to expect from Kato. He's been a surprisingly violent dude, but without much actual technique to back it up, just what appears to be great natural instincts. Gracie is... a Gracie who isn't Kron or Roger, that is to say he doesn't look terribly good in MMA. Suspect he might be taking this to supplement some income or take some attention away from Metamoris? The Japanese Musketeer by TKO, round 3

Staff picking Gracie: Fraser, Eddie
Staff picking Kato: Ram, Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil

Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Emmanuel Sanchez

Mookie Alexander: Sanchez doesn’t win fights convincingly, but I think the Roufusport fighter has been steadily improving as a prospect. He certainly mixes up his strikes well but just doesn’t have finishing power. Also, he doesn’t excel in any one area, so if his plan is to outpoint Karakhanyan and effectively break even on the ground, I don’t think it’s a feasible one at this stage in his career. Karakhanyan is pretty fun to watch when he’s at his best, and I think we’ll see him get another W. Georgi Karakhanyan by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Karakhanyan is another solidly violent, sneaky opportunist who is pretty hard to put away and is always fiending on some sort of finish. Sanchez has struggled a bit to win fights convincingly: mediocre TDD and striking defense plus not much power leaves him totally reliant on pace. He is extremely tough, and could feasibly outwork Karakhanyan, but Georgi Karakhanyan by submission, round 1

Ram Gilboa: Sanchez will be too tough for his own good in this fight. Karakhanyan’s abilities are clicking and he seems in a scary zone. Karakhanyan by submission, round 3.

Staff picking Karakhanyan: Nick, Ram, Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Phil, Eddie
Staff picking Sanchez:

Derek Anderson vs. Derek Campos

Mookie Alexander: Well Derek Anderson missed weight by many pounds, so that’s a wrinkle in this one. Apart from that, Anderson is the more complete fighter and has beaten better competition. Anderson’s not a great finisher against higher-end competition, so I’m hesitant to pick the stoppage win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened, because Campos is just too damn hittable. Derek Anderson by unanimous decision.

Ram Gilboa: Mark my words, Derek wins this one for sure. Now, when in doubt, go for the fighter with the much longer reach. Also, at his league, Anderson finds problems mostly against submission fighters - so if Campos was a more dangerous grappler I’d be less confident in this, but as it is, Anderson by decision. So Anderson missed weight by more than 5 pounds - practically the gap between a super welterweight and a full middleweight in boxing. The bigger they are, the harder they hit, the harder they are to move around. Anderson by a morally debatable TKO, round 3.

Phil Mackenzie: Anderson is way bigger. So much bigger that he missed weight, badly. That being said, he's beaten a much higher quality of competition, and Campos gets very caught up in admiring his own work as soon as he starts to throw, and his defense goes out the window. Derek Anderson by KO, round 1

Staff picking Anderson: Nick, Ram, Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Phil
Staff picking Campos: Eddie