We are only a little over six weeks into the year and for the third time, Bellator MMA is bringing us another top notch event to check out. This event will be headlined by a heavyweight division clash as Fedor Emelianenko takes on Matt Mitrione. Also, Josh Thomson will be battling Patricky Freire and Josh Koscheck makes his long awaited Bellator MMA debut.
Bellator MMA Heavyweight Division Fight
Fedor Emelianenko (36-4-0-1NC) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5-0)
Emelianenko will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and he will be doing so on the strength of a five fight winning streak. Mitrione is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, having defeated Carl Seumanautafa and Oli Thompson. Emelianenko will be competing in the United States for the first time in over five years, his last stateside appearance was a loss to Dan Henderson at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson. Mitrione spent over seven years competing in the UFC, where he earned some notable wins over Kimbo Slice, Joey Beltran, Shawn Jordan, Derrick Lewis and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Prediction: Emelianenko is one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in MMA history, but age is starting to show, just check out his last fight against UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado. Mitrione isn’t an elite heavyweight either, but has the movement and the variety in his strikes to give Emelianenko problems, Mitrione knocks out Emelianenko in the second round.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Patricky Freire (16-8-0) vs. Josh Thomson (22-8-0-1NC)
Freire will be competing for the first time since losing a lightweight title fight to Michael Chandler at Bellator 157 in June 2016. Thomson is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating the duo of Mike Bronzoulis and Pablo Villaseca. Freire is one of the longest tenured fighters in Bellator MMA, having been in the promotion for nearly six years time. Thomson is a former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and he has previously challenged for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Prediction: Freire will want to engage Thomson into a slugfest and Thomson should oblige, if the past has shown us anything, Thomson wins a razor thin decision here.
Bellator MMA Heavyweight Division Fight
Cheick Kongo (25-10-2) vs. Oli Thompson (17-9-0)
Kongo will be entering the fight on a three fight winning streak, with notable wins coming over former Bellator MMA Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov and UFC veteran Vinicius Spartan. Thompson is currently winless under the Bellator MMA banner, dropping a fight to Matt Mitrione at Bellator 158. Kongo has previously challenged for the Bellator MMA Heavyweight Title, losing to then champion Vitaly Minakov at Bellator 115. Thompson also fought twice in the UFC, dropping a pair of fights to the duo of Shawn Jordan and Philip De Fries.
Prediction: Thompson brings a lot of striking power to the cage, but Kongo has that grinding styles and that earns him a decision win.
Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Division Fight
Veta Arteaga (2-1-0) vs. Brooke Mayo (0-0-0)
Arteaga has won just one of two fights under the Bellator MMA banner, defeating Jackie Vandenburgh and suffering a defeat to Anastasia Yankova. Mayo will be making her professional MMA debut in this fight, but she did win five fights as an amateur. Arteaga did fight one time as an amateur fighter, losing to Kaytlin Neal by split decision at Showdown Fights 14. Mayo fought three times in the Global Knockouts promotion during her time as an amateur, winning two of those three fights.
Prediction: Arteaga has gone the distance in every fight she has competed in, pro or amateur, Mayo has a few finishes, but this one goes the distance and Arteaga gets her third win as a pro.
Bellator MMA Welterweight Division Fight
Mauricio Alonso (12-7-0-1NC) vs. Josh Koscheck (17-10-0)
Alonso is currently winless under the Bellator MMA banner, having dropped a fight to Nick Pica by decision at Bellator MMA Dynamite. Koscheck will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and he will be doing so while on a five fight losing streak. Alonso will be entering this fight on a two fight winning streak, which includes a win over Bellator MMA veteran Justin Baesman. Koscheck hasn’t won a fight in over five years time, his last win came over Mike Pierce at UFC 143 in February 2012.
Prediction: Koscheck is a shadow of the man who once challenged for the UFC Welterweight Title, but he still has a high level wrestling game and he gets the decision over Alonso.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Luis Vargas over Juan Cardenas
Dominic Summer over Abraham Vaesau
Matthew Ramirez over Jeremy Murphy
Bobby Escalante over Anthony Do
Nikko Jackson over Cesar Gonzalez
JJ Okanovich over Zach Andrews
James Terry over JC Llamas
Abner Perez over Gaston Bolanos
Francisco France over Anatoly Tokov
Diego Herzog over Martin Sano
Roque Reyes over Justin Tenedora