Before we travel to Hidalgo, Texas on Saturday Night for UFC Fight Night 94, we will be taking a pit stop in Cedar Park, Texas for Bellator 161. This event will be headlined by a key heavyweight division fight as UFC veteran Cheick Kongo battles Tony Johnson. Also, Sirwan Kakai looks to defeat former two division champion Joe Warren and Anastasia Yankova makes her second appearance in Bellator MMA.
Main Card (Spike TV – 9pm EST.)
Bellator MMA Heavyweight Division Fight
Cheick Kongo (24-10-2) vs. Tony Johnson (10-2-0)
Kongo has won four of his last five in Bellator MMA, with notable wins coming over former heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov, as well as UFC veterans Lavar Johnson and Vinicius Queiroz. Johnson is currently undefeated in Bellator MMA, defeating current UFC star Derrick Lewis and he also holds a win over former heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov. Kongo has previously challenged for the Bellator MMA Heavyweight Title, losing to then champion Vitaly MInakov at Bellator 115. Johnson will be fighting more than once in the same year for the first time since 2013, his most active year was 2010, where he fought a grand total of three times.
Prediction: Kongo will be looking to use the same game plan he has been for years now, which is to force his opponent up against the cage wall while working the clinch on them. Johnson has a lot of good power and he can wrestle if he wants to, plus he has fought several big names already. Johnson will keep Kongo at a distance for a little while with his striking game, but Kongo starts to finds way to get a hold of him and to maintain the clinch on route to a decision victory.
Bellator MMA Bantamweight Division Fight
Sirwan “Zohan” Kakai (12-4-0) vs. Joe Warren (13-5-0)
Kakai is a UFC veteran who is currently winless in Bellator MMA, dropping a fight to Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 151. Warren is a former two division champion (bantamweight & featherweight) in Bellator MMA, but he has only won just one of his last three fights. Kakai did have a short run in the UFC, defeating Danny Martinez at UFC Fight Night 70 and dropping a bout to Frankie Saenz at UFC Fight Night 73. Warren will be fighting in a non-main event in Bellator MMA for the first time in nearly three years, the last time he fought and did not headline a card was Bellator 107 in November 2013.
Prediction: Kakai’s best shot at winning the fight is his submission game, but he has not submitted anybody in nearly two years. Warren has an amazing wrestling game and his boxing game has shown steady improvement over the years. It’s really Warren’s fight to lose, but Warren will takedown and then pound on Kakai on route to a decision win.
Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Division Fight
Veta Arteaga (2-0-0) vs. Anastasia Yankova (3-0-0)
Arteaga made her Bellator MMA debut earlier this year at Bellator 155, where she defeated Jackie Vandenburgh by unanimous decision. Yankova made her Bellator MMA debut earlier this year as well at Bellator 152, where she defeated Anjela Pink by submission. Arteaga has been competing as a professional for less than a year now and she did go winless as an amateur. Yankova will be competing in her fourth professional MMA fight, he previously three opponents had a combined record of 1-4-0 (Arteaga’s opponent’s records combined are 0-4-0).
Prediction: Arteaga’s strength in her previous two fights was her wrestling game, which she used to gain a pair of decision wins. Yankova has shown a good mind for the submission game, which means that Arteaga can play right into her hands. Arteaga pressures Yankova early with the wrestling game, but she later taps to an arm bar towards the end of the first round.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Djamil Chan (12-2-0) vs. Derek “The Stallion” Campos (16-6-0)
Chan is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating Richard Patishnock by first round knockout. Campos has only won just one of his last three in Bellator MMA, with that lone win coming over Melvin Guillard at Bellator 149. Chan is also a former German MMA Championship and Respect Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion. Campos has only earned two wins in the past two years in Bellator MMA, both coming over UFC veterans in the previously mentioned Melvin Guillard and Estevan Payan.
Prediction: Chan really only has one game plan when he enters the fight, which is to just come forward and swing away like there’s no tomorrow. Campos does have a good ground game and his striking game is good enough to put his opponents to sleep. Campos does have a previously mentioned ground game, but he usually puts it away and engages wherever his opponents prefers to go, Chan prefers the striking game and he finishes Campos with strikes in the second round.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks (Bellator.com – 6:50pm EST.)
Armando Villareal over Tommy Burghart
Sean Clements over Jonathan Taylor
Emily Ducote over Kenya Miranda
Mark Dickman over Daniel Pineda
Garrett Scott over Waylon Brunstrup
Matt Mazurek over Jose Guerra
Rey Trujillo over Deuce King
Nick Gonzalez over Warren Stewart