Bellator 208 is upon us as legends collide in the main event, when Fedor Emelianenko squares off with Chael Sonnen in the semi-finals of the heavyweight GP. That matchup will be covered in its own separate post, as this one will cover the rest of the main card. The co-main event for Bellator 208 will see Benson Henderson in the final fight of his Bellator contract, taking on the 23-9 Saad Awad, with the winner likely to be considered for a lightweight title shot...provided that Henderson re-signs.
Before that, longtime MMA veteran Cheick Kongo will put his six-fight winning streak on the line when he faces off with new Bellator acquisition Timothy Johnson. This will be Johnson’s first time competing since departing from the UFC on a win earlier this year. Also on the card, Bellator’s former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko will lock horns with fellow Russian, Anatoly Tokov, which is almost guaranteed to be fireworks. Opening up the Bellator 208 main card, Henry Corrales will look to make it four-straight when he takes on Bellator newcomer and slick submission artist Andy Main.
Check out the breakdowns of these matchups below, and be sure to check out The MMA Vivisection with Bloody Elbow’s own Zane Simon, Victor Rodriguez, and Eddie Mercado.
Bellator 208 takes place this Saturday, October 13th, and will air live on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET. The prelims will begin at 7:00 P.M. ET.
Benson Henderson (25-8 MMA; 2-3 Bellator) vs. Saad Awad (23-9 MMA; 11-6 Bellator): Lightweight
Ben Henderson is moving into the final fight on his Bellator contract. Since joining the promotion, Henderson has gone 2-3, dropping a welterweight title fight to Andrey Koreshkov, a lightweight title fight to Michael Chandler, and a split decision loss to Patricky Freire. On a lighter note, Henderson has an injury TKO win over Patricio Freire and a second round submission over Roger Huerta. A win over a streaking Saad Awad could put Henderson right back in the conversation for another shot at Bellator gold, if he re-signs.
Saad Awad has strung together a four-fight winning streak, including a first-round stoppage of Zach Freeman, who is the guy that club & sub’d Aaron Pico in Pico’s pro debut. In his last fight, Awad was also able to stop Ryan Couture with strikes in the first round. With tons of momentum behind him, a win over Benson Henderson would be the largest win of Awad’s career, but also might set him up for his first Bellator title shot.
Cheick Kongo (28-10-2 MMA; 10-2 Bellator) vs. Timothy Johnson (12-4 MMA; Bellator Debut): Heavyweight
Cheick Kongo has had a career renaissance under the Bellator banner, posting up a highly respectable 10-2 record since his departure from the UFC. Kongo’s style has also undergone great change, as we first saw him as much more of a kickboxer, whereas now, he’s much more of a neutralizing grappler. After five straight decision victories, Kongo used his striking to realize a first-round stoppage of Javy Ayala at Bellator 199 this past May. At 43 years of age, how long can Kongo keep his streak alive?
After going 4-3 inside of the UFC, Tim Johnson now makes his promotional debut with Scott Coker and the rest of the Bellator family. Johnson is a willing brawler that is capable of dropping anyone; go see his fight with Alexander Volkov. The top game of Johnson has also been shown to be an area of concern for his opponents, as he is more than capable of ending the fight there with strikes. Will Johnson be able to make it ugly in there and turn the match into a battle of toughness?
Alexander Shlemenko (57-11-1 MMA; 12-4-1 Bellator) vs. Anatoly Tokov (26-3 MMA; 2-0 Bellator): Middleweight
Bellator’s former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko is making his return to Bellator following a brutal first-round knockout loss to Bruno Silva over in M1. Before that fight, he was on the losing end of a spunky decision to Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 185, so Shlemenko is looking to avoid a three-fight losing skid for the first time in his lengthy career. Can Shlemenko pull out some salty veteran tricks to topple his surging countrymen?
Under the wing of Fedor Emelianenko, Anatoly Tokov is off to a fantastic start in Bellator. In his promotional debut at Bellator 172, he took out Francisco France with some brutal ground and pound, and then followed up that performance with a 56-second submission of Vladimir Filipovic at Bellator 200. Tokov is aggressive, he comes forward, and he’s looking to do damage. This will be an I.Q. test for Tokov as he will have to overcome whatever savvy tricks Shlemenko might have up his sleeves.
Henry Corrales (15-3 MMA; 3-3 Bellator) vs. Andy Main (12-3-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): Featherweight
After running the proverbial gauntlet that was Daniel Straus, Emmanuel Sanchez and Patricio Freire, Henry Corrales overcame his 0-3 start to his Bellator career by posting up three straight victories. Corrales blasted Cody Bollinger with body shots to pick up a third round TKO, and then earned back to back decision wins over veterans Noad Lahat and Georgi Karakhanyan. The baptism by fire that Corrales endured to kick off his Bellator run has him flying under the radar, but you might want to start keeping an eye on this guy.
Andy Main posted up a 1-1 run on TUF season 12 back in 2010, and has since picked up submission wins over the likes of now UFC bantamweight Brian Kelleher, and UFC veteran Nam Phan. After a unanimous decision victory over Saul Almeida in LFA, Main is looking to bring his crafty submission talents to Bellator, but how will he fare against the hot hand of Corrales?