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Bellator 142: Dynamite Preview

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September 19, 2015

SPIKE.COM PRELIMS 7PM, SPIKE MAIN CARD 9PM

On September 19th the SAP Center in San Jose California will play host to an event that promises to be a must watch for anyone who is a fan of combat sports. Bellator 142: Dynamite is being billed as a three-tiered event that will feature both Bellator MMA and Glory Kickboxing. The Glory section of the card will feature a fight for the vacant Light Heavyweight title between Saulo Cavalari and Zack Mwekassa while the other two tiers will be MMA focused.

We’ll be focusing on the MMA tiers of the card. The main event of the evening will be a Light Heavyweight Title fight which sees champion Liam McGeary taking on UFC veteran and MMA legend Tito Ortiz. The other tier of the card will feature a four man light heavyweight tournament which will have opening bouts of Phil Davis vs Emanuel Newton and “King” Mo Lawal vs Linton Vassell. The winners of those two bouts will go on to face each other later that night with the winner of the final bout earning a title shot against the winner of the main event. Other notable fights on the card include Josh Thomson vs Mike Bronzoulis and Francis Carmont vs Luiz Philipe Lins. So let’s break down the opening fights of the tournament and the main event of the evening.

“King” Mo Lawal vs Linton Vassell

The opening fight of the light heavyweight tournament will be between “King” Mo Lawal and Linton Vassell. Both men enter the fight with a 15-4 record with Lawal on a 3 fight win streak and Vassell having won 10 of his last 11 fights.

“King” Mo’s last fight was a split decision victory against Cheick Kongo and was actually fought at heavyweight, the two fights before that were at light heavyweight however and both resulted in TKO victories for Lawal. With 11 of his 15 wins coming by way of KO or TKO, Lawal obviously has power in his hands and tends to like to keep the fight standing.

Linton Vassell has won 10 of his last 11 with his 1 loss coming in the 5th round of a war with then champion Emanuel Newton. Vassell seems to be the more well-rounded of the 2 fighters. Out of his 15 wins, 6 are by KO or TKO and 7 are by submission. Vassell would appear to have the advantage if the fight goes to the ground but getting it there might be problematic due to Lawal’s underrated wrestling ability.

Phil Davis vs Emanuel Newton

UFC veteran Phil Davis makes his Bellator debut at this event and certainly hasn’t drawn an easy match up. Davis is 13-3 with his last fight ending in a controversial split decision loss to Ryan Bader. Davis hasn’t finished an opponent since 2012 but has elite level wrestling ability (he is a 4 time Division 1 All-American while at Penn State) and uses that to smother virtually anyone who steps in the cage with him.

Former champion Emanuel Newton makes his return to the cage after a 3 month suspension for testing positive for marijuana following his loss to Liam McGeary at Bellator 134 in February. Prior to the loss Newton had been on a 7 fight win streak, including victories over 2 of the other 3 fighters in the tournament, Lawal and Vassell. Newton has an impressive record of 25-8 and has shown that he has the ability to knock his opponent out or make them tap as he has finished 13 of his opponents. Newton has fought wrestlers in the past but has never really been in the cage with someone who has the caliber of wrestling that Davis possesses, and that might make the difference in this fight.

Liam McGeary (c) vs Tito Ortiz

Light Heavyweight Champion Liam McGeary comes into this fight with a perfect 10-0 record, finishing all but 1 of those fights. McGeary is a dangerous fighter no matter where the fight ends up. He has a dangerous stand up game and is equally effective on the ground, including being very proficient off his back when necessary. And at 6’6, the Englishman should hold a significant reach advantage as well.

Tito Ortiz is a legend in the MMA world. With a record of 18-11, Ortiz steps into the cage at 40 years of age for what will probably be his last shot at a title. Ortiz is known for his ground and pound style and his incredible cardio which, while it has dropped off a little bit with age, is still impressive to watch. Ortiz likes to wear his opponents down throughout the fight before looking for the finish. That may be much easier said than done against McGeary however as the champion has great cardio, is 8 years younger than Ortiz and has shown that he can go the distance in fights with little issue as he proved in his 5 round battle with Emanuel Newton where he set the record for most submission attempts in Bellator history with 11.

Between the tournament and the main event, the MMA side of Bellator 142 is already a must see event. When you add in the Glory side of things it makes it hard to consider not tuning into Spike TV on September 19th.

MAIN CARD

Liam McGeary vs. Tito Ortiz TITLE FIGHT
Muhammed Lawal vs. Linton Vassell
Mike Bronzoulis vs. Josh Thomson
Phil Davis vs. Emanuel Newton

UNDERCARD

Roy Boughton vs. Francis Carmont
Victor Jones vs. David Blanco
Gloria Telles vs. Alysia Cortez
Nick Pica vs. Mauricio Alonso
Brandon Hester vs. DeMarco Villalona

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Bellator: Selecting the Four Alternates for the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

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With an 8-man tournament bracket full of legends and former champions, join us as we chose four alternates for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Main Tournament Participants:

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Frank Mir
  • Chael Sonnen
  • Quinton Jackson
  • Roy Nelson
  • Matt Mitrione
  • Ryan Bader
  • King Mo Lawal

The alternate tournament bracket will consist of: two opening round fights (semi-final), and then two victorious fighters competing against one another at the finale (final). This will determine a worthy contender to step into the main tournament bracket, in case any of the main bracket fighters are injured in their semi-final bouts.

If a pull-out or injury occurs before the opening bouts, I believe Bellator have to select the most decorated fighter, and a natural heavyweight fighter. So in case of a pull-out occurring before the opening round, I would select my #1 alternate, and so on for any more opening pull-outs.

This structure covers all bases, and keeps the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament intense and prestigious.

So with the structure laid out, here is our selected alternate fighters.

  • #1: Vitaly Minakov
  • #2: Linton Vassell
  • #3: Attilah Vegh
  • #4: Emanuel Newton

Alternate Opening Round [Semi-Final]:

  • Bout 1: #1 Vs. #3
  • Bout 2: #2 Vs. #4

Alternate Final:

  • Victor of Bout #1/#3 Vs. Victor of Bout #2 Vs. #4

Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton would be a trilogy that needs to be completed. Linton dominated on the ground for the most part of their first bout, but felt he gave up positions he felt he could have held longer, and took needless transitions and risks; allowing for a very sneaky Emanuel Newton to escape the clutches of ‘The Swarm’, and when the gas tank begins to empty – a scrambling Emanuel Newton is not what you want!

Fighter bios:

Vitaly Minakov: A former Bellator tournament winner, and former Bellator heavyweight champion. A Judo black belt, and multi time Sambo world champion, there’s no denying this man’s resume as one of the best put forth out of these 4 fighters.

Linton Vassell: A man who really lives up to the moniker – ‘The Swarm’, Linton Vassell has dominated and dispatched various opponents Bellator have put across from him. Having fallen short in two title fights, and a close decision loss to King Mo, Linton has shown that he’s there with the best Bellator has to offer, maybe the Heavyweight Grand Prix might see the dark-horse finally come into the lime-light! Currently contracted to Bellator with a 7-3 record for the promotion.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

Emanuel Newton: Already holding two victories over King Mo, who’s allocated in this Heavyweight main tournament bracket – that alone is just cause to enter Emanuel. An exciting and unpredictable entry this would be. Bellator parted ways with Emanuel in 2016. Currently, Newton is not on the best of runs, but this tournament needs a ‘wild-card’, and Emanuel owns that title.

Attilah Vegh: A former Bellator LHW champion. Not currently signed to Bellator. Was strangely released in 2014 after having a record of 5-1 with the promotion, and some victories over some very reputable names. Currently on a 2 fight win-streak outside of Bellator MMA.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

 

Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)
Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)
Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)
Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)

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Exclusive: Hisaki Kato: “My priorities are in MMA”

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French-Japanese middleweight Hasaki Kato returns to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on former welterweight Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani. Ahead of the high-level striking match-up, Kato took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with MMA Latest.

Rangy striker Njokuani makes his middleweight debut Friday as he looks to erase his loss to Andrey Koreshkov from recent memory. It isn’t lost on Kato just how tall and lanky the 6’3 striker truly is. “Well he’s very tall,” Kato tells MMA Latest. “He was a welterweight but even for a middleweight he’s really tall he’s like 6’2, 6’3 taller than me, longer reach than me. Obviously, I was watching his fights, he’s fighting with range and using his reach to fight so that’s his number one weapon.”

In Njokuani’s last fight, Koreshkov, the former welterweight champion, held Njokuani down and elbowed him until the ref stepped in. So what exactly went wrong in the fight? “Well, first I think Koreshkov is really, really strong,” Kato explains. “Chidi Njokuani normally escapes the ground part or at least he’s on top of his opponent. But Koreshkov has good pressure and good grappling and he could take the top position. Obviously, Njokuani is not comfortable when he is on the bottom. So yeah, I think he couldn’t play his game during the last fight because Koreshkov was putting too much pressure on him.”

Former UFC fighter, Gegard Mousasi, recently made his debut against Alexander Shlemenko back in October. The Dutchman had a tough debut that resulted in a controversial decision win, Kato weighed in on whether or not he’s eyeing a fight with him and what he thought of his Bellator debut. “If I have an offer I will fight him,” he says without any particular enthusiasm. “I will fight everybody in the division. Yeah, for the last fight, well, I think luckily for him it was a three-round fight. I think if it was a five round fight the victory would have gone to Shlemenko. I don’t know maybe he had a bad camp, I don’t know but he was doing terrible.”

Kato also believes a title shot isn’t far away. “I believe I’m really close to that (a title shot),” he says. “After the win, after the Gracie fight, even if it was a decision win, the Gracie is a big family name so I was expecting a title fight. I didn’t have it so I guess if I win this time I have a good chance to have it.”

Whatever you do, don’t expect to see Kato back in a kickboxing ring anytime soon. Does it interest him to return? “Not really,” Kato replies after giving the question some thought. “If the offer is good then why not, for now, I feel more comfortable in MMA so my focus, my priorities, are in MMA.”

Many fans were very disappointed with the way his last fight turned out. Paired up against jiu-jitsu fighter, Ralek Gracie, Kato ended up going to the judges for the first time in his career. “Yeah the fight itself was really frustrating,” Kato admits. “I couldn’t do what I wanted and after two rounds, I knew I had done enough to win, and I knew he would push more. So I decided ‘yeah ok then it’s going to a decision’ but at the very least I had to win that fight.  That’s why I didn’t take too many risks in the third round. During the first and the second, I really wanted to end that fight like I always try but I couldn’t do it.”

So why hasn’t Kato fought since January? “I had an offer in September,” he says. “But I got injured during the training and had to go into surgery, and after the surgery, the process is really long to recover so that’s why.”

So what does Kato predict for the fight? “Obviously his nickname is ‘Bang’ you know, he likes to fight and that’s all I like doing too,” Kato laughs. “I’m really thinking about having a big knockout with my hands.”

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Exclusive: Fernando Gonzalez talks Paul Daley and Michael Page fights

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Long-time Bellator welterweight contender, Fernando Gonzalez, has made a career out of fighting the best fighters his promotion had to offer. The always tough Californian has displayed this willingness to fight the best when he took on Paul Daley in a kickboxing match and when he took on Michael ‘Venom’ Page, in what was supposed to be Page’s coming out fight.

The kickboxing match with Daley happened back in 2015 at “Bellator MMA and Glory: Dynamite 1” in an event that featured both Glory kickboxing as well as its fair share of intriguing Bellator MMA fights. Gonzalez would go on to lose the fight in what many fans called a ‘lackluster’ contest. Speaking to MMA Latest, Gonzalez was asked if he had any interest in returning to the kickboxing ring and why he participated in Glory kickboxing.

“No. Honestly, that kickboxing match was more just to get Daley; because they kept trying to give him to me on short notice and one was on an injury,” Gonzalez told MMA Latest. “So I was like, ‘no I don’t want to give him an easy win’, but the only thing they came up with was that kickboxing match in that time. So ever since that fight, I was like ‘listen dude lets do this MMA’. I’m an MMA guy, I know how to kickbox and I’m good with it but I prefer MMA. I love doing MMA. I don’t like to have too many rules put on me. I like being able to go out there and flow freely. Honestly, I want Daley in an MMA fight so he gets the real fight.”

Gonzalez’ fight with Michael Page was booked as the veteran getting fed to the younger up and coming contender. The fight was Page’s opportunity to add another highlight reel knockout to his collection. Obviously, someone forgot to tell Gonzalez. Gonzalez went out and made sure he never gave Page any openings, unfortunately, he would go on to lose the fight by split decision. Fernando explains what went wrong in his only Bellator loss.

Honestly the only thing that went wrong in the fight is how people viewed the fight”, Gonzalez explains. “If you really look at the fight he really didn’t land anything. The whole first round they’re talking him up, how he’s dancing and how it’s putting me into a lullaby and this and that. I was never in danger. He was not throwing a single punch. This is MMA, you cant just take on the fight with one style, you have to fight different styles for different people. If it was just boxing, you would fight a boxer just one way realistically, but Michael Page has the karate style. So you have to come up with a different formula if you’re going to fight somebody like that.”

“So my style with him, I knew that he’s used to everybody rushing him and trying to take him down. I’m a striker so I don’t mind striking. If I’m not in danger then I’m going to keep it striking. So what I did was I circled, I kept him at arm’s length, so he constantly had to throw long arms where he’s having to reach out and grab you. He’s throwing those arms out, that makes him have to basically hold his arms out a lot longer than he’s used to. He’s used to guys rushing in on him. So with me playing that outside game, obviously my legs are a lot longer than my arms, so I had to throw a lot more kicks, there was a lot of head kicks to take away his power-punch where he leaps in. By doing that, that made him work a lot longer in the second and third round where he’s normally finishing guys. By that third round, he was completely exhausted and couldn’t throw. He said his timing was off and this and that, but he was just exhausted. I had already gassed him out and he had just enough to stay away from me.”

“Really it’s just how you see the fight. They automatically assumed I had to take him down to win and that’s not necessarily true. If I’m not in danger, and I’m landing kicks, and I’m landing good shots, and he’s hitting my arms. Realistically most of the shots he landed were on my arms and that really doesn’t count. So it’s really just how you see it and that’s why one judge had it 30-27. It’s just how you’re seeing the fight. If you’re a striker you would know what you’re looking at, but if you’re a ground guy, of course, you’re going to say ‘oh I got to get it to the ground’ which is what the commentators were; two ground guys talking about what I should’ve done.”

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