With the lull in UFC events until the beginning of November, Bellator MMA is attempting to pick up the slack with a stellar Bellator 162 card. The event will be headlined by a middleweight division fight as former Bellator MMA Middleweight Champion Alexander Shlemenko takes on Kendall Grove. Also, Bobby Lashley takes on Josh Appelt and Ryan Couture returns to the cage.
Main Card (9pm EST., Spike TV)
Bellator MMA Middleweight Division Fight
Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove (23-15-0-1NC) vs. Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko (53-9-0-1NC)
Grove has won three of his last four fights under the Bellator MMA banner, with the lone loss coming to former middleweight champion Brandon Halsey. Shlemenko will be competing stateside for the first time in nearly two years after failing an out of competition drug test. Grove has seen only one of his six bouts in Bellator MMA go the distance, that fight was a decision win over Joe Vedepo at Bellator 104. Shlemenko is a former Bellator MMA Middleweight Champion, he defended the belt twice before losing it to Brandon Halsey at Bellator 126.
Prediction: Grove has been using his reach to knock opponents out lately, but Shlemenko is great at getting inside longer fighters with his own striking game, Shlemenko finishes Grove with strikes in the first round.
Bellator MMA Heavyweight Division Fight
Josh “The Juggernaut” Appelt (12-5-0) vs. Bobby “The Dominator” Lashley (14-2-0)
Appelt will be returning to Bellator MMA for the first time in well over two years, his record is 2-2-0 between appearances in the promotion. Lashley is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating Josh Burns, Karl Etherington, Dan Charles and James Thompson. Appelt will enter the fight riding a two fight winning streak, those wins have come over Joe Hernandez and Roy Boughton. Lashley is also a former Xtreme Fight League Heavyweight Champion, he defeated Tony Melton by decision to win that title.
Prediction: Appelt does have a decent striking game, but Lashley grounds him quickly and gets a first round TKO finish here.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Ryan Couture (10-4-0) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (19-3-0)
Couture has won two of three fights under the Bellator MMA banner, most notably defeating TUF alumni Dakota Cochrane at Bellator 135. Yamauchi will be making his lightweight division debut in this fight, he went 5-2-0 as a featherweight in Bellator MMA. Couture is the son of the legendary Randy “The Natural” Couture, but he did go 0-2-0 during a brief stint in the UFC. Yamauchi will be fighting for the second time this year, it is his most active year since 2014, where he competed a grand total of three times.
Prediction: Couture is going to want to drag this fight to the ground and control his opponent with his wrestler, but Yamauchi is an amazing jiu-jitsu fighter with a top notch submission game, Yamauchi submits Couture in the second round.
Bellator MMA Middleweight Division Fight
Hisaki “The Japanese Musketeer” Kato (6-2-0) vs. AJ “The Mercenary” Matthews (8-5-0)
Kato will be returning to Bellator MMA for the first time in nearly a year, he went 1-1-0 in his previous two bouts with the promotion. Matthews will enter the fight riding a two fight losing streak and he has not won a fight in Bellator MMA in over a year. Kato did compete in the inaugural Rizin Fighting Federation event, defeating Yuta Watanabe by first round TKO. Matthews is on the second two fight losing streak of his career, the first round last over two years’ time.
Prediction: This fight is going to be nothing short of a slugfest for as long as it lasts, but it will be Kato picking his shots better on route to a first round TKO finish.
Preliminary Card (6:45pm EST., Bellator.com) Quick Picks
Ricky Rainey over Gilbert Smith
Steve Garcia over Ronnie Lawrence
Chase Gormley over Bobby Brents
Julia Budd over Arlene Glencowe
Dan Charles over Virgil Zwicker
Tyler Hill over Wade Johnson
James Wallace over Jonathan Burdine
Brian White over Eryk Anders
Jaleel Willis over Omar Johnson
Chad Cook over Grady Hurley
Mike Wessel over Frank Tate