The staff predictions are in for Bellator 206, and opinion is fairly divided on the main event, with a slight lean towards middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi taking care of welterweight champ Rory MacDonald. As for the co-main event, most of us are going with Quinton Jackson to even the series up at 2-2 against Wanderlei Silva. The welterweight Grand Prix kicks off with the Douglas Lima vs. Andrey Koreshkov rubber match, which the BE team overwhelmingly believes will be won by the Brazilian.
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.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rory MacDonald
Anton Tabuena: This will either be a really fun technical battle, or a really boring technical staring contest. Both are very well rounded, and it should be close either way, but the smart pick is with the bigger man in Mousasi. Gegard Mousasi by Decision.
Tim Burke: Moose fights to the level he thinks his opponent is at a lot of the time. I have a feeling he’s going to come into this overconfident because his opponent is smaller than him. And he’s going to get outstruck and drop a decision. Rory MacDonald via decision.
Mookie Alexander: I’d been thinking “Mousasi is going to win this” all week, but now I’m a lot less sure. He absolutely destroyed Rafael Carvalho to win the Bellator belt, but he looked distinctly average and labored against Alexander Shlemenko in the fight preceding that. MacDonald shouldn’t look totally out of place at middleweight, even against a part-time light heavyweight, so the physical aspect of this may be a little overstated. There are legitimate concerns about the state of Rory’s nose, which could lead him towards getting pieced up by Mousasi’s strong jab, but MacDonald has an absurdly high tolerance for taking damage without folding in ways that I’m not sure Mousasi possesses. I believe MacDonald will seek to stuff takedowns and perhaps shoot for takedowns himself, where some of his most underappreciated work is how he handles grappling and offense from top control. It’ll be a high-level chess match that can go either way, and while Mousasi has the tools to hurt Rory and potentially stop him, I think Rory is going to accumulate just enough on the scorecards to edge out Moose. Rory MacDonald by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I’m thinking that Rory’s transition to middleweight won’t be that difficult. He’s already got a big frame for welterweight. It seems like his jab and composure will win out here, being able to nullify takedown attempts and turn up the heat in later rounds. Rory’s style is friendlier to judges, and his approach should end up getting him the win here. Rory MacDonald by decision.
Staff picking Mousasi: Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Eddie
Staff picking MacDonald: Phil, Mookie, Tim, Victor, Fraser
Rampage Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva
Anton Tabuena: 2018 Rampage has more in the tank than 2018 Wanderlei. This will be ugly. Rampage by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Rampage is 27 pounds heavier than Wanderlei, and last I checked, Rampage’s chin hasn’t eroded substantially over the years. I reckon Silva is going to try and channel his vintage form and instead get blasted. Rampage Jackson by KO, round 1.
Tim Burke: They’re getting like a million dollars each for this farce. Rampage Jackson via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: The Rampage I saw struggle against Sonnen is shot. The Wanderlei I saw against Sonnen is too, but at least that guy dropped Sonnen and didn’t get hit with a bunch of stuff. Wand is reckless, but both are old and tired. I’d say Rampage probably gasses first and resorts to a bunch of hugging and ugly nonsense. Still going with the reckless underdog against all logic. Wanderlei by some goofy stuff.
Fraser Coffeen: These fights often come down to who can more effectively grind his way to an ugly, boring, terrible, soul-sucking, dire decision. And your better candidate for that ugly, boring, terrible, soul-sucking, dire decision is Quinton Rampage Jackson. Look for some hugging, some pushing into the cage… maybe a lame takedown? Rampage by ugly, boring, terrible, soul-sucking, dire decision
Staff picking Rampage: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Eddie, Tim, Fraser
Staff picking SIlva: Bissell, Nick, Victor
Douglas Lima vs. Andrey Koreshkov
Mookie Alexander: A key thing to note here is that all welterweight tournament bouts are five rounds. I love that, and love that Bellator is finally providing us with five-round non-title matchups. Koreshkov took apart Lima the first time, although Lima was nursing an injury at the time. The rematch saw Lima wipe Koreshkov out cold in a stunner. This is a case where Koreshkov is more likely to take rounds off of Lima but Lima is more likely to get a finish. I’m leaning towards another finish for Lima, who really needs this win after losing his title to Rory MacDonald. Douglas Lima by TKO, round 3.
Victor Rodriguez: Lima’s really come into his own now, and should be able to land bigger shots while withstanding Koreshkov’s strikes. Plus, his defensive wrestling is still good enough to fend off Andrey’s attempts. If he was able to find that chin last time, he can do it again. Lima by TKO.
Staff picking Lima: Nick, Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Eddie, Tim, Victor, Fraser
Staff picking Koreshkov: Bissell
Aaron Pico vs. Leandro Higo
Mookie Alexander: Pico has the tools to be truly special. Rapidly improving offensive boxing with serious power behind his body punches, great finishing instincts, and of course we know his wrestling is going to be superb. He hasn’t needed to use his wrestling much because he’s flattened people with his fists instead. This fight boils down to whether or not Higo, who tends to start slowly, can weather the early storm. If he can, we’ll learn a lot more about Pico’s progression as a fighter, as Higo is really well-rounded and is clearly the best opponent Pico has faced, albeit with Higo moving up from his normal weight class. I dunno… I thought I’d pick Pico confidently, but now I’m not so sure. It’s possible Pico really is a super-phenom talent who’ll just blow seasoned opponents out, but I’m not completely sold that he’ll be able to drag himself out of deep waters if it gets there. Leandro Higo by unanimous decision.
Eddie Mercado: I cannot pick Pico over a recent Bellator title contender until I see him defeat that level of opposition. I’d like to pick Pico, but I can’t. Sorry not sorry. Leandro Higo wins.
Victor Rodriguez: Higo is really, really good, but I’m buying the hype on this one. Pico is a special fighter, and realistically shouldn’t be fighting a guy this experienced. He’s still got good hands and is a hyperathlete with an insane wrestling pedigree and great coaches. Aaron Pico by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Pico: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Victor, Fraser
Staff picking Higo: Eddie, Tim, Mookie
Keri Melendez vs. Dakota Zimmerman
Mookie Alexander: Showcase fight for Melendez. Keri Melendez by TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Melendez is vicious. Anyone that bets against her in a fight like this against a fighter like Zimmerman needs that gambling helpline number we constantly give out. Keri Melendez by violence, round 1.
Staff picking Melendez: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Eddie, Tim, Victor, Fraser
Staff picking Zimmerman:
Gaston Bolanos vs. Ysidro Gutierrez
Mookie Alexander: Remember that spinning elbow KO? Yeah, Gaston Bolanos is that guy. Gaston Bolanos by KO, round 1.
Anton Tabuena: I’m just here for the spinning shit. Bolanos by spinning back elbow KO.
Victor Rodriguez: This is just almost as egregious a mismatch as the Melendez/Zimmerman fight. Bolaños is an accomplished striker that’s tearing people apart in MMA. Bank on it. Bolaños by Tiger Genocide, round 1.
Staff picking Bolanos: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Eddie, Tim, Victor, Fraser
Staff picking Gutierrez:
Who wins the Bellator 206 main event?
This poll is closed
Mousasi by stoppage
MacDonald by stoppage
Mousasi by decision
MacDonald by decision
Unmasked Justin McCully