The SAP Center in San Jose, California will play host to this Saturday’s Bellator 172, as the main event will see MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko make his promotional debut against agile big man Matt Mitrione. The co-main event on the night will see San Jose’s own Josh Thomson taking on power punching Patricky Freire in the lightweight division. The Bellator 172 main card will air live on Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. EST/6:00 P.M. PST with the prelims streaming online at 7:00 P.M. EST/4:00 P.M. PST.
Main Card: Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. EST
Josh Thomson (22-8 MMA; 2-0 Bellator) vs. Patricky Freire (16-8 MMA; 9-7 Bellator): Lightweight
Josh Thomson is about as complete of a fighter as it gets in MMA. He is a proven killer with beaucoup toughness, as 16 of his 22 wins have come by way of finish, and 7 out of his 8 losses went to a decision. After the former Strikeforce lightweight champion reunited with Scott Coker in Bellator, Thomson finished back-to-back opponents Mike Bronzoulis (Sub) and Pablo Villaseca (TKO), before taking off for a year to rehab injuries. Having turned pro in 2001, high miles are expected, so it is uncertain how many more times Thomson will make the walk to the cage as a fighter. Thomson’s high volume, active footwork style gives him a great chance of toppling the heavy hitting, and sometimes slow-starting, Patricky Pitbull, despite father time’s hindrances. Does Thomson still have some left in the tank?
Patricky Freire was beginning to find some consistency in the Bellator promotion following a scary one-punch KO of Ryan Couture, and a unanimous decision win over Kevin Souza in Italy. Then, Pitbull ran into Michael Chandler. The current Bellator lightweight king posterized Patricky Pitbull with a hellacious right hand that knocked Freire all of the way back to the second grade. Known for his heavy-handed in-fighting style, Pitbull will be looking to rebound from the devastating loss in hopes to regain some traction in the lightweight division. Although aggressive in the past, the recent knock on Pitbull has been his habit of sitting back and waiting for the perfect counter, just to find himself behind on the scorecards. If Pitbull comes out aggressive and gets right in the face of Thomson, then he stands a better chance of besting his well-aged opposition. Which Pitbull will show up?
Cheick Kongo (25-10-2 MMA; 7-2 Bellator) vs. Oli Thompson (17-9 MMA; 0-1 Bellator): Heavyweight
Cheick Kongo has been running on all cylinders within the Bellator promotion, picking up 3-straight wins in the heavyweight division. In his last outing, we saw Kongo out-grapple the grappler in Tony Johnson to earn himself a majority decision victory. Kongo will need to pull from his experience yet again if he wants to topple the brawling style of Oli Thompson. We watched Kongo prove that he can still pick you apart from the outside when he fought Vinicius Spartan last February. In the same fight, we also saw him get dropped in the third round by a massive right hand, but Kongo ‘s uncanny ability to recover kicked in. Don’t expect Kongo to want to give Thompson too many opportunities to let his hands go. Kongo is likely to deploy an ‘all the way in’ or ‘all the way out’ sort of style in search of his fourth consecutive win.
Oli Thompson is a hard-nosed British brawler who is far from shy about taking one to give one. Thompson has fought for some of the world’s leading MMA promotions and has won 5 out of his last 6 bouts. After dropping his promotional debut in a gutsy loss to Matt Mitrione, look for Thompson to launch bombs at Kongo while trying to avoid the clinch at the same time. If Thompson can pull off the upset, then he will find himself on the expressway to the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division.
Josh Koscheck (17-10 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Mauricio Alonso (12-7 MMA; 0-1 Bellator): Welterweight
Josh Koscheck is set to make his long awaited debut for the Bellator promotion, as injuries have sidelined the fighter since he was signed back in June of 2015. Koscheck brought his NCAA All American wrestling credentials with him into MMA, before developing the striking skills necessary to compete at the highest levels of the sport. Having already fought a who’s who of MMA royalty, Koscheck is looking to break his 5-fight losing skid, and finish his career on a high note with the Viacom promotion. Can Koscheck kick father time in the head and move himself back into the win column?
Mauricio Alonso has a major opportunity to score a huge win over a big name. Having dropped a unanimous decision in his Bellator debut, Alonso hit the regional circuit and picked up back-to-back wins before the call came in to fight Koscheck. With his last 5 fights taking place at 185, it is unclear how cutting down to welterweight will affect Alonso’s performance. Alonso has nothing to lose, so expect the BJJ black belt to let it all hang out.
Brooke Mayo (Pro Debut) vs. Veta Arteaga (2-1 MMA; 1-1 Bellator): Flyweight
Brooke Mayo will be making her professional debut following an 8-2 run as an amateur. Mayo is not afraid to let her hands go and has also shown the ability to set up her kicks. Having fought at both bantamweight and flyweight, will Mayo settle in at 125 as she enters into her very first professional fight?
Veta Arteaga proved that she is no stepping stone as she took the hyped up Anastasia Yankova to a split decision. Arteaga went right at Yankova with big punches, hurting the Rusian kickboxer multiple times in the opening round. You can expect more of the same heavy handedness from Arteaga, as she will look to run over the debuting Mayo to pick up her second win inside of the Bellator cage.
Prelims: Streaming online at 7:00 P.M. EST
James Terry vs. J.C. Llamas: Welterweight
Rick Reger vs. Carlos Rocha: Welterweight
Dominic Sumner vs. Abraham Vaesau: Welterweight
Anthony Do vs. Bobby Escalante: Flyweight
J.J. Okanovich vs. Zach Andrews: Lightweight
Abner Perez vs. Gaston Bolanos: Featherweight