Live from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on Spike TV and Bellator.Spike.com, Fri, Oct 20, 2017
--- Main Card (Spike TV: 9pmET/6pmPT) ---
Middleweight - 185 lbs: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs Alexander Shlemenko (56-9)
Welterweight - 170 lbs: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs Zak Bucia (18-8)
Flyweight - 125 lbs: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs Kristina Williams (0-0)
Lightweight - 155 lbs: Marcus Surin (4-0) vs Ryan Quinn (13-7-1)
Flyweight - 125 lbs: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs Lisa Blaine (1-0)
--- Prelims (Bellator.Spike.com: 7pmET/4pmPT) ---
Catchweight - 195 lbs: Alec Hooben (5-3) vs Jordan Young (7-0)
Middleweight - 185 lbs: Costello Van Steenis (8-1) vs Steve Skrzat (8-9)
Featherweight - 145 lbs: Vovka Clay (3-1) vs Frank Sforza (6-0)
Lightweight - 155 lbs: John Beneduce (2-1) vs Dean Hancock (2-1)
Featherweight - 145 lbs: Pete Rogers (2-4) vs Timothy Wheeler (1-4)
Welterweight - 170 lbs: Joaquin Buckley (7-1) vs Vinicius de Jesus (5-1)
Lightweight - 155 lbs: Don Shainis (3-1) vs Matthew Denning (5-6)
Flyweight - 125 lbs: John Lopez (8-4) vs Billy Giovanella (8-5)
Hardy vs Williams
Undefeated WBC Boxing champion, Heather "The Heat" Hardy makes her sophomore appearance in MMA after a successful debut back in June at Bellator 180. This time around, Hardy will be welcoming Kristina Williams to the pro ranks of MMA. Williams, who was 3-0 as an amateur and will be looking to derail The Heat hype train.
Worldwide, the female Flyweight division can very easily be acclaimed as the best division among the ladies. And it continues to grow and show exactly why with the acquisition of the multi-sport talented, Hardy. In her debut against Alice Yauger, the Brooklyn native displayed her championship boxing skills along with a variety of kicks mixed in. Primarily leg kicks and teeps, it was still enough to see that Hardy was quickly grasping all elements of striking. The biggest surprise for me personally in that fight was that Yauger didn't once try to test Hardy's ground game with any takedowns. There were minimal clinch exchanges, but no threats to advance. Therefore making that the biggest question mark for this fight and so on if Hardy can avoid the mat.
Prediction: Hardy RD2 (T)KO
Mousasi vs Shlemenko
You don't often get fights between two veterans like these. Combining each man's record equals out to 115 total fights...that's a lot. The biggest free agent signee as of late, Gegard Mousasi will be making his Bellator debut in the main event against former Middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko. It can be argued that Mousasi has never looked better than he does at this current stage. Winning seven of his last eight bouts, it came as a pretty big surprise to see him depart from the UFC. As for former Bellator king, Shlemenko, he has won nineteen of his last twenty two...not much losing going on there.
In Shlemenko's most recent loss, he was submitted under a minute by Brandon Halsey. He avenged this loss in his last outing with a TKO also under a minute. Before that loss, he lost to Tito Ortiz in a Light Heavyweight fight. Shlemenko was as you would expect...outsized by the Light Heavyweight legend, Ortiz. Many have said that Shlemenko could make Welterweight if he wanted to...but why exactly would he? He's had plenty of success at Middleweight and a majority of his losses have only come to those who have been substantially bigger than him(like Ortiz).
The only problem with that is, Mousasi also fits this bill and on top of that, is possibly the most talented fighter that Shlemenko has ever fought. Mousasi can do it all, from his lightning accurate jab to his phenomenal ground escapes. Shlemenko will have his work cut out for him. Shlemenko's best path to victory may be to try and stick and move and avoid constantly being within the range of the longer, Mousasi. While doing that he can mix in distance closing power shots. All easier said than done. Shlemenko's best weapon is his body kicks. He's a very powerful fighter when throwing strikes so he can definitely put Mousasi away with the right shot. It's just hard to imagine it happening to such a smart and technical wizard like Mousasi has become.
Prediction: Mousasi RD1 (T)KO
UFC Fight Night 118
Live from Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland on UFC Fight Pass, Sat, Oct 21, 2017
--- Main Card (3pmET/12pmPT) ---
Welterweight - 170 lbs: Donald Cerrone (32-9) vs Darren Till (15-0-1)
Strawweight - 115 lbs: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-2)
Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs: Jan Blachowicz (19-7) vs Devin Clark (8-1)
Light Heavyweight - 205 lbs: Jonathan Wilson (7-2) vs Oskar Piechota (9-0-1)
--- Prelims (11:30 AM EST / 8:30 AM PST) ---
Lightweight - 155 lbs: Marcin Held (22-7) vs Nasrat Haqparast (8-1)
Heavyweight - 207-265 lbs: Adam Wieczorek (8-1) vs Anthony Hamilton (15-8)
Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Brian Kelleher (17-8) vs Damian Stasiak (10-4)
Middleweight - 185 lbs: Sam Alvey (31-9) vs Ramazan Emeev (15-3)
Featherweight - 145 lbs: Andre Fili (16-5) vs Artem Lobov (13-13-1)
Welterweight - 170 lbs: Warlley Alves (10-2) vs Salim Touahri (10-1)
Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Lina Lansberg (7-2) vs Aspen Ladd (5-0)
Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Felipe Arantes (18-8-1) vs Josh Emmett (11-1)
UFC Fight Night 118 in Gdansk, Poland will mark down as the UFC's second-ever event in the country. The event's headliner features a UFC staple vs a young prospect looking to catapult himself to the next level.
Lansberg vs Ladd
Lina Lansberg has had one of the more unique starts to a UFC career that one could have. In her debut, she main evented in a 140 lb Catchweight bout against the current UFC Featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg. I don't need to tell you what happened if you don't know...let's just say it wasn't good for Lina. In her follow up bout, she was expected to take on Veronica Macedo at 135 lbs but Macedo was forced out due to injury. In comes Lucie Pudilova to replace her, a woman that Lansberg had met before and defeated previously in her career. The fight happened and it was close and competitive but Lansberg came out on top despite the horrendous punishment it had appeared her face had taken in the third round.
Lansberg was supposed to make her third octagon appearance back in July against Leslie Smith but had to pull out herself this time. Now we're here and she finds herself welcoming in the undefeated 22-year-old newcomer and Invicta FC standout, Aspen Ladd. Ladd has finished four of her five opponents(3 KO/TKO, 1 Sub). Ladd is a very strong and well-rounded wrestler. Her striking is definitely good enough to hang with "The Elbow Princess" Lansberg but obviously, it wouldn't be as wise a choice as it would be to try and get things to the ground. Which is likely how things will go since Ladd has shown she has a solid fight IQ to attribute her skillset. If Lansberg can keep herself off her back in this one, she should be able to really shine when having a full camp for one specific opponent this time around.
Prediction: Ladd RD2 Sub
Fili vs Lobov
Andre Fili has been on an up and down roller coaster ride to start out his UFC career as he has gone 4-4 without earning any victories back to back. In his most recent victory, he put on the best performance of his career vs Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 96. What followed was a shocker from the debutant, Calvin Kattar who defeated Fili via unanimous decision. He next finds himself up against Artem Lobov who stands at 2-3 in the UFC with all five fights going to decision.
In Lobov's last fight, he competed against perennial top Featherweight, Cub Swanson in what was the biggest fight of his career. He was unable to come out on top, so now he finds himself taking on Fili with each man looking to make a statement. Stylistically, this should be a stand-up battle for the most part. But if it goes to the ground, it favors Team Alpha Male's Fili. Both have fairly unorthodox striking, but Lobov is much more of a counter striker than Fili which could cause disaster for him. Thus making a balanced gameplan a good idea against the confident, Lobov. Regardless, if you follow the pattern it's time for Fili to get another win...right?
Prediction: Fili UD
Blachowicz vs Clark
The last two times we saw Jan Blachowicz, he was getting bested by the better wrestlers in Patrick Cummins and Alexander Gustafsson. The matchmakers don't seem to be too fond of poor Jan as he could be in for more of the same when he locks horns with Devin Clark.
Jan Blachowicz is a very powerful striker. Most everything he throws has bad intentions behind it which makes him rather lethal in said area. This is also why a majority of his opponents tend to try to avoid striking with him as much as possible. Devin Clark has shown to be developing a striking game of his own but going toe to toe with someone like Blachowicz could be getting ahead of one's self. Expect Clark to try and smother Blachowicz and pound him out on the ground while Blachowicz looks to land a crushing finishing blow throughout.
Prediction: Clark UD
Kowalkiewicz vs Esquibel
One of Poland's native daughters returns home on Saturday as Karolina Kowalkiewicz looks to right the ship and snap her two-fight losing streak. Standing across from her will be JacksonWink product, Jodie Esquibel who makes her UFC debut. The Invicta FC veteran, Esquibel has been one of the better fighters outside of the UFC fighting south of 125 lbs since she began her career. Holding notable victories over DeAnna Bennett and Jinh Yu Frey, Esquibel also competed in an elimination fight for season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter against Ashley Yoder in a fight she very arguably should have won.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz has been notorious for starting somewhat slow. Despite losing in round one of her last fight, she came out a bit more aggressive than usual. But it was hard to tell if she had worked on that specifically or not because her opponent was Claudia Gadelha who generally forces the pace herself...potentially causing Karolina to keep up with her early on. Esquibel, who isn't known for her finishing abilities with five of her six wins coming by way of decision, will need to capitalize early on if possible. Similar to how Gadelha was able to. Esquibel is a well-rounded fighter and has one of the best game planning teams in all of MMA in her corner. Funny enough, it's the same team that Karolina faced when against Gadelha.
All that in mind, it might not be as crazy as one would imagine for Esquibel to pull off the upset but still a bit far-fetched. Karolina has proven to have some of the very best striking and takedown defense at 115 lbs which is the perfect kryptonite to a fighter who doesn't exactly excel in any specific area. When you also factor in that this will be Karolina's first UFC fight in Poland and her back is against the wall after losing two straight, she should be more motivated than ever to get a dominant victory.
Prediction: Kowalkiewicz RD3 (T)KO
Cerrone vs Till
Everyone knows how skilled Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone is, but very few know how skilled Darren Till is. Primarily a striker, with very "flowy" movement and strong jabs, counters and elbow strikes, Till looks like he could be a part of the next generation of Welterweight stars. It's just a matter of whether or not he's ready to take on the big dogs or not.
Cowboy Cerrone does not get enough credit for how of a high a fight IQ that he has. Probably because he doesn't really train for specific opponents. He just trains to get better. Which I think might make it even more impressive. The main reason I say this is because...especially at Welterweight, Cerrone has mixed up his attack beautifully. From his combos alone to the utilization of his wrestling. He has taken down all of his Welterweight opponents except for Jorge Masvidal and Matt Brown. So that includes the likes of Robbie Lawler, Rick Story, Patrick Cote and Alex Oliveira. Most impressive are the first two, more so Story due to his wrestling background.
That is what will be the key in this fight. If Cerrone decides to take it down to the ground or not, which I think he will. Once there, Till is in Cerrone's world and Cerrone will work his Jiu-Jitsu magic on route to a submission victory. If Till can avoid being taken down, we get a super intriguing and fun striking battle on the feet. Old school vs new school in a way. Despite the massive experience gap, Till has legitimate skill and belief in himself to where he can make it not matter. Whether he can hang with Cerrone on the feet at all is to be determined, he has shown to be fairly hittable in his short UFC career but in the end, this fight will still come down to whether or not Cerrone wants to take business to the mat.
Prediction: Cerrone RD1 Sub
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