Viacom’s version of MMA is back in London, England this Friday as the SSE Arena will play host to Bellator 179: Daley vs. MacDonald. The headline matchup will see England’s own Paul “Semtex” Daley welcome top free agent acquisition Rory MacDonald to the Bellator promotion, with the winner receiving a title shot against the winner of Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC.
It will be a U.K. vs. U.K. co-main event for Bellator 179 as the former light heavyweight king Liam McGeary will be squaring off against rising talent Linton Vassell. Also competing on the card, in their respective weight classes of course, will be the rejuvenated heavyweight veteran Cheick Kongo, and the offspring of the late Kimbo Slice, Kevin Ferguson Jr, also known as “Baby Slice.” The Bellator 179 main card will kick off on Spike TV (Tape Delay in 2017) at 9:00 P.M. ET/PT.
Main Card: Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. ET (Channel 5 at 5 PM local time in the UK)
Paul Daley (39-14-2 MMA; 5-1 Bellator) vs. Rory MacDonald (18-4 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight
Paul “Semtex” Daley is returning to action following a fantastic flying knee Knockout of the Year candidate against Brennan Ward, at Bellator 170 back in January of this year. The 2:27 finish moved Daley to 4-1 inside of the Bellator promotion, with his lone loss coming by way of the once again welterweight champ, Douglas Lima. If Daley can welcome Rory MacDonald to the Bellator cage in the worst way, then he will get his shot at redemption against Lima, but in a 5 round world title fight.
Known around the world for his deadly kickboxing prowess, Daley has finished 31 out of of his 39 wins before the sounding of the final bell. Daley has not shown to be one who varies from his gameplan often, so don’t expect to see many takedown attempts from the Brit. With a somewhat one-dimensional strategy, will Daley be able to do enough to topple Bellator’s top welterweight acquisition?
Rory MacDonald made waves in the MMA free agency pool when he left the UFC for Viacom’s version of the sport. After coming up short in a welterweight title fight with Robbie Lawler at UFC 189, and a #1 contender’s match with Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night 89, MacDonald opted to take his talents to the Bellator promotion.
Looking to get back into the win column, and earn another world title shot, look for the Tristar trained MacDonald to rely on his composed yet pressuring striking style, coupled with his ability to thrive in grappling exchanges, to take the fight to Paul Daley. With Daley being known primarily for his standup, don’t be surprised to see MacDonald wanting to get this fight to the ground.
MacDonald has only fought in North America, so this will be his first fight on another continent, but will home field advantage and heavy hands be enough for Daley to fend off the debuting MacDonald?
Liam McGeary (12-1 MMA; 9-1 Bellator) vs. Linton Vassell (17-5-1 MMA; 6-2 Bellator): Light Heavyweight
Bellator’s former light heavyweight champion, Liam McGeary, returned to his winning ways with a 2nd round doctor’s stoppage of Brett McDermott, at Bellator 173 back in February of this year. McGeary used his superior boxing ability to lump up McDermott, and also utilized his 6’-6” frame by cracking his opponent with a brutal knee to the noggin while on the inside.
The major knock on McGeary has been his inability to fend off the takedown, as each of his previous 5 opponents have found top position at some point in their respective fights. McGeary appears to have the edge on the feet, as Vassell’s striking isn’t quite on par with his grappling, but will he be able to remain vertical, and prevent Vassell from taking the fight to the ground where he prefers?
Linton “The Swarm” Vassell came up short in his light heavyweight title fight against Emanuel Newton at Bellator 130 back in 2014, but has since gone 3-1, including wins over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Francis Carmont, and even avenging his loss to Newton. Vassell is known best for his grappling, and win or lose, he has successfully grounded 7-straight opponents. So, this is a matchup between a guy in McGeary who can be taken down, and a guy in Vassell who can score the takedown.
Once on the ground, McGeary has shown an uncanny ability to hit slick submissions from unorthodox positions, as in 2 inverted triangles in the Bellator cage. With 7 subs to his credit, Vassell is no stranger to earning a finish on the ground either. With both fighter’s being rather educated on the ground, don’t be surprised if the match becomes a stalemate if/when it hits the mat. Will the standup of McGeary be the difference in this light heavyweight affair?
Cheick Kongo (26-10-2 MMA; 8-2 Bellator) vs. Augusto Sakai (9-0-1 MMA; 4-0-1 Bellator): Heavyweight
OG heavyweight Cheick Kongo has put together an 8-2 run inside of the Bellator promotion, including 4-straight, following his unanimous decision victory over Oli Thomson, at Bellator 172 this past February. Kongo has consistently shown a willingness to implement a gameplan, specific for each opponent, but also the ability to adapt and find a way to pick up tough decision wins. Kongo has a major experience advantage over the 9-0-1 Augusto Sakai, in both number of fights and level of competition. Bellator MMA has been without a heavyweight champion since stripping the former champ Vitaly Minakov due to inactivity; that void will need to be filled, and Kongo, with another win, can make a strong case for getting a shot at the vacant belt.
Augusto Sakai has yet to taste defeat in his 10-fight career, despite drawing even with Dan Charles at Bellator 155 in May of 2016. Sakai has displayed a knack for launching gnarly knees, as 3 of his 7 finishes have involved his kneecap in some way. On top of his thunderous hooks, Sakai also possesses zapping leg kicks that aid in the breaking down of his opponents. Kongo is by far the highest caliber opponent that the 25-year old Sakai has faced to date, so the 9-0-1 young gun will need every bit of his youthful experience to overcome the 42-year old veteran, but hey, it could happen.
Alex Lohore (11-1 MMA; 1-0 Bellator) vs. Dan Edwards (14-14 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight
Alex Lohore will be making his sophomore appearance for the Bellator promotion, following his 2nd round Rear-Naked Choke of Colin Fletcher, better known as “Freakshow,” at Bellator 173 this past February. Lohore overcame early adversity, including being dropped and multiple submission attempts, to show that he has some heart to go along his athleticism. Lohore faces a 14-14 fighter in Dan Edwards, who has finished each of his 14 wins, but has also been finished in 11 of his 14 losses. That sort of live by the sword, die by the sword mentality usually leads to exciting fights. Will Lahore get it done in London?
Kevin Ferguson Jr. (0-1 MMA; 0-1 Bellator) vs. D.J. Griffin (Pro Debut; Bellator Debut): Catchweight 165 pounds
Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson, son of the late Kevin Ferguson, or “Kimbo Slice,” is set for his second professional bout. “Baby Slice” put on a sporty outing in his debut against Aaron Hamilton at Bellator 165, showing off his ability to change levels and get the fight to the ground. Following a second round Anaconda attempt from Ferguson, his opponent locked up an Anaconda of his own, and “Baby Slice” dropped his professional debut. Ferguson will be hunting for his first professional win as he takes on D.J. Griffin, who will be making his professional debut.