Bellator has announced two or three big fights for upcoming battle cards, and I will give my thoughts on these new matchups in the current MMA odds and ends.
Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas, Bellator 214
Featherweight contender Juan Archuleta has decided to drop down to bantamweight and he’ll take on top prospect Ricky Bandejas in Bellator 214, which takes place January 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Archuleta (21-1) is really on a 16-fight win series and is 3-0 thus far in Bellator with his most recent success being a decision win over Jeremy Spoon back in November. Bandejas (11-1) started off his Bellator career with a bang when he pumped out Bellator’s golden boy James Gallagher this past summer. He’s only lost once in his profession, to UFC vet Nick Pace, and he holds a notable triumph over current UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili. That is such a fantastic battle between two fighters on the upswing, and it’s not a simple one to select considering both guys are extremely talented and both are driving a great deal of momentum into this battle. I think Archuleta is somewhat more solid and proven, but Bandejas is a special potential himself. Start looking for a near line with a slight lean towards Archuleta.
Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop 2, Bellator 217
Heavyweights Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop are place to rematch at Bellator 217, taking place February 16 in Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Neslon (23-16) is 1-2 so far in Bellator and most recently was knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov in an upset. Nelson previously defeated Cro Cop through TKO back at UFC 137 in 2011. Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) will be making his long-awaited Bellator introduction on the insides of a nine-fight win streak, wiht many of the wins coming from RIZIN. Nelson may have defeated Cro Cop the first time, but based on Cro Cop’s long win streak and Nelson’s diminishing chin I’d have to prefer Cro Cop to win the rematch.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Andrey Koreshkov, Bellator 220
An exciting welterweight bout between strikers Lorenz Larkin and Andrey Koreshkov is set to headline Bellator 200, taking place March 29 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. Larkin (20-7, 1 NC) is just 2-2 so far in Bellator, but he’s coming off of successive wins over Fernando Gonzalez and Ion Pascu. The Pascu battle was likely to become a welterweight tournament alternate bout, bout Bellator must figure they don’t require a repacement fighter so that they gave Larkin this battle against Koreshkov. Despite Larkin being a small disappointment so far since registering a big free-agent contract with Bellator, he possesses knockout power that will consistently make him a danger to beat anyone in the branch. Koreshkov (21-3) is 12-3 overall in Bellator and many recently lost by entry to Douglas Lima in the opening round of the welterweight tournament. His ground game and chin have looked shaky occasionally at Bellator, but like Larkin he’s always a threat to win by knockout. This ought to be a very competitive fight but Koreshkov constantly gets enormous admiration from bettors and I figure he be a tiny favorite here.
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