The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for Bellator Japan, with most of us going for Fedor Emelianenko to beat Rampage Jackson in the main event. It’s pretty one-sided for all of the other main card bouts, especially for Michael Page vs. Shinsho Anzai, which is the most lopsided fight on the card in terms of betting odds.
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.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Quinton Jackson
Mookie Alexander: Perhaps Fedor will try to take Rampage down and Jackson will respond by calling the cops, seeing as he detests things such as “wrestling” and “leg kicks” in MMA fights. If this is a stand-and-trade fight? Rampage’s chin has held up for the longest while and only Shogun and Wanderlei have ever ripped him apart. Fedor still has power but he has waning durability. Portly Rampage is gonna knock him out. PRIDE is dead, either way. Quinton Jackson by KO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Not to go all MMA math, but one of these two men lost to Chael Sonnen in 2018, and it wasn’t Fedor. Fedor Emelianenko via decision.
Badar Raja: There was a period in time when it did not matter the physical attributes of an opponent, Fedor would find a way to win. This is not the same Fedor. While the ‘Last Emperor’ has only lost twice since 2012 - he has faced positional adversity in all of his last five fights, including, most recently a brutal 35-second KO loss against Ryan Bader. Rampage will have the forward momentum in this one following his emphatic victory over Wanderlei. If Fedor is to win, he needs to avoid brawling with Rampage. It’s a selection where my mind is screaming Rampage wins, but the fan boy in me refuses to pick against ‘The Last Emperor’. Fedor via decision.
Staff picking Fedor: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne
Staff picking Rampage: Shak, Mookie
Sidney Outlaw vs. Michael Chandler
Mookie Alexander: Outlaw is a really good fighter but simultaneously he’s not really the type of guy Chandler has historically struggled with. As an aside, I might have actually gone with Benson Henderson to win the Chandler rematch, but since he’s hurt and Outlaw has stepped in, I gotta go with the former champ. Michael Chandler by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Outlaw has put together a hell of a run, but it’s one largely made up of grappling success against green competition. Chandler has his struggles with striking defense, but he’s always been a fantastic submission threat and capable positional grappler. Hard not to feel that he’ll get the perfect fight to shine here. Michael Chandler by decision.
Badar Raja: Sidney Outlaw is a young hungry lion looking to make a name for himself. Outlaw is unbeaten since 2016, but has not fought anyone of Chandler’s calibre save Gregor Gillespie. Outlaw had the UFC fighter in serious trouble in the final round; with Gillespie flattened out on his back. Chandler lost the Bellator lightweight title in May of this year and will not be taking ‘Da Gun’ lightly. I just cannot see Outlaw stopping Chandler’s wrestling and once the fight gets to the ground, Chandler will be looking to finish. Chandler via TKO.
Staff picking Outlaw:
Staff picking Chandler: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne, Shak, Mookie
Keita Nakamura vs. Lorenz Larkin
Mookie Alexander: Unless K-Taro repeats the Li Jingliang fight, Larkin should be able to outstrike him and pick him apart to get the victory. Nakamura’s best chance is to outwrestle and outgrapple Larkin, but it’s not as strong a route to a win as it used to be. Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Larkin has his problems with wrestling and grappling. But, he’s not the kind of inexperienced fighter to just fall into bad spots easily against ‘K-Taro.’ And while Nakamura is a dangerous back-take artist with a sneaky boxing game, he’s also become an increasingly lackadaisical, low-output fighter against decent competition. I just trust Larkin to try harder moment-to-moment. But there’s always a chance he’ll win for 8 minutes and then get club-n-subbed. Lorenz Larkin by decision.
Badar Raja: I truly believe Larkin is one of the most underrated fighters in the world. He has victories over Masvidal, Lawler, Ponzinibbio and Koreshkov. Larkin’s crisp boxing and punishing leg kicks will keep MMA veteran Nakamura at bay in the first round. Once Larkin has gauged the distancing I see a dramatic finish on the cards. Larkin via TKO.
Staff picking Nakamura:
Staff picking Larkin: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne, Shak, Mookie
Kana Watanabe vs. Ilara Joanne
Mookie Alexander: Pitbull Brothers is on a roll, at the moment. There’s uh… the Pitbull Brothers Patricio and Patricky, plus Henry Cejudo, and now you have Ilara Joanne as a rising contender after starting her career 0-2. Can’t really bet against that gym right now, although Watanabe is a dangerous judoka with good athleticism so this won’t be an easy fight. Ilara Joanne by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: A kneebar over Bec Rawlings doesn’t exactly mean much, but neither does crushing a bunch of 0-0 opponents in RIZIN setup fights. Still, my expectation here is that, just by being the much better athlete, Watanabe rides out a more difficult than expected win for a close decision. Kana Watanabe by decision.
Badar Raja: Watanabe is the #2 p4p female fighter in Japan and she’s unbeaten. I am not sure if Joanne will be able to enforce her grappling against Watanabe - who is an accomplished Judoka. Joanne is coming off a victory over Rawlings and has probably faced the tougher competition but I give the home field advantage to Watanabe. Watanabe by decision.
Staff picking Watanabe: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne, Shak
Staff picking Joanne: Mookie
Daron Cruickshank vs. Goiti Yamauchi
Mookie Alexander: I think Cruickshank has a chance. He’s a crafty striker with good power but he’s a tad too easy to submit for a submission specialist like Goiti. Goiti Yamauchi by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: If this fight were in a ring, I might give Cruickshank a pretty good shot at winning it, just for his greater comfort with positional striking and use of corners. However, assuming it’ll be in a cage, and given that Yamauchi has never been KO’d, and that Cruickshank has terrible problems with grappling defense... Goiti Yamauchi via submission, round 1.
Badar Raja: It’s simple mathematics, Yamauchi is a solid black belt in BJJ under Fernandinho Vieira and 58% of Cruickshank’s losses are via submission. Cruickshank has the striking advantage but Yamauchi will be looking to get the former UFC veteran to the ground quickly. Yamauchi via submission.
Staff picking Cruickshank:
Staff picking Yamauchi: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne, Shak, Mookie
Michael Page vs. Shinsho Anzai
Mookie Alexander: Larkin is ON THIS CARD. They could’ve just done MVP vs. Larkin instead of this latest highlight-producing mismatch. Michael Page by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Anzai loves running face first into punches. Michael Page loves running people face first into punches. A match made in heaven. Michael Page via KO, round 1.
Badar Raja: There is an old farmer’s saying that reads, “Attack the roots and the head will die.” It is a philosophy that Lima implemented against Page to pepper the tricky fighter with leg kicks setting up the finishing sequence. It’s the same philosophy Anzai will need to implement to slow down Page’s point karate/kickboxing style to impose the grappling credentials that won him ADCC Asia trials in 2011 and 2013. But I do not see this happening. Page simply moves too well and will likely gain another highlight reel KO. Do not be surprised if this match ends with a tornado kick knockout. Page via KO.
Staff picking Page: Zane, Badar, Tim, Dayne, Shak, Mookie
Staff picking Anzai:
This poll is closed