Here’s who I believe will have their hands raised at Bellator 172
Tomorrow night the fighters will step into the cage and test their skills against each other. Months of training, diet and time away from their families will lead up to a clash of combat. Fans of the sport will never fully understand what goes into a training camp, and how impossibly hard it is. We are the lucky ones. We sit and watch, enjoying the fruits of their labor. Before the main card fighters step into that cage at Bellator 172, I will attempt to give you the winners and how they’ll achieve that victory.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
This fight is so highly anticipated. Fedor is almost mythical in status. Fans who watched his run in Pride know just how ridiculously good he is. Or was. Father time catches up with everyone. In Fedor’s last fight against Fabio Maldonado he didn’t look like the Fedor from my memories. He was slower, easily hit, and vulnerable. You can either assume he’s slowing down, or simply had an off night. Either way, interest is through to the roof to see what he brings to the table tomorrow night.
Fedor (36-4) has a tendency to stand and bang with fighters. He’s always had tremendous hands, and goes to the body like a madman. That said, he’s a very skilled grappler and submission artist. If Fedor played it safe, or wanted an easier night at the office, he’d take Matt down, and control him and submit him. I don’t see a single scenario that comes into play that goes Mitrione’s ’s way if Fedor takes him down. It would be a safe, relatively quick fight. That said, Fedor is unlikely to play that game.
Matt Mitrione (11-5) is a puncher. The former professional football player and Ultimate Fighter alum will mix it up standing with anyone. He has good sharp punching, and delivers heavy hooks and has knockout power. In his Bellator debut, he battled Carl Seumanutafa and got hit with a massive right hand and was dropped. He was able to recover and finished Carl minutes later. It shows that Matt has a good chin, which he might need tomorrow night.
The whole thing boils down to which Fedor we see tomorrow night. If it’s the Fedor of old, he wins the fight, decisively. He will either TKO Matt or take him down and submit him. If it is the Fedor we saw against Maldonado, it could be a long night for Fedor. Fedor was hit a lot by Fabio, and I can promise you Matt hits way harder. Bottom line, going with Fedor here by second round submission.
Josh Thomson vs. Patricky Freire
This is a good fight. Josh Thomson always shows up in great shape, and ready to compete. He’ll be in there with Freire, who is coming off of a devastating loss to Michael Chandler. In that fight Freire was knocked unconscious in the first round, and it’s not always easy to come back from that. Josh has won both of his fights since signing with Bellator. He’ll be looking to go three in a row and get a possible title match with Michael Chandler.
Josh Thomson (22-8) is on the hunt for a Bellator Lightweight championship fight. He knows that a win here over Patricky Freire could land him that fight. Josh has been in the game for a long, long time and is as well rounded a fighter is you’re likely to find. He’s trains at AKA in San Jose, and he has the advantage of fighting in his hometown. He’ll get to sleep in his own bed this week, and won’t suffer jet-lag or just the hassle of travel.
Patricky Freire (16-8) trains full time with brother, Bellator fighter Patricio. They have an us against the world mentality, similar to that of the Diaz brothers. They’re both gifted athletes, and his brother is the former Bellator Featherweight champion. Patricky enjoys standing and striking, and brawls quite a lot.
I expect this to be a good fight, and Josh Thomson simply has more ways to win at his disposal. I expect Josh to take Patricky down and hold him there. He’ll land some ground n pound, and work positions, but in the end, I expect Josh to take a Unanimous Decision victory.
Oli Thompson vs. Cheick Kongo
Once upon a time, Kongo was a striker with good hands. He’s transitioned into more of a wrestler, and clinch specialist. While the style change doesn’t result in a lot of flash, it does make him difficult to beat. He’s won four of his last five. Oli is more of a puncher, and he enters the fight having won five of six.
Cheick Kongo (25-10-2) could be lured into a striking match with Thompson and if he does, it’ll be fun. Kongo is the sharper striker, while Thompson is a slugger with heavy hands. It would be surprising if Cheick traded for long, as he’ll look to clinch and control Thompson early and often in this fight.
Oli Thompson (17-9) lives by the sword, and sometimes, dies by it. He will stand and trade with anyone. He’d love to be able to keep this a standup clash, but in all likelihood he’s going to have to fight the takedown and work out of the clinch. He is a strong heavyweight, and hopefully he’s been working on his takedown defense.
This fight could be really fun, as a striking match would feature Kongo’s speed against Thompson’s power. Sadly though, I think we’re going to see Kongo control Thompson in the clinch against the fence, and on the mat on his way to a lackluster Unanimous Decision victory.
Josh Koscheck vs. Mauricio Alonso
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Josh Koscheck step into the cage. He and Diego Sanchez represent the only active fighters from season one of The Ultimate Fighter. The last time we saw Koscheck fight was nearly two years ago, in a losing effort to Erick Silva in the UFC.
Josh (17-10) has plenty of tools. We’ve always known Koscheck could wrestle, but as his career developed, so did his hands. He’s a capable striker, and an exceptional grappler. He’ll be looking to get something going in Bellator, and finish his career on his terms.
Mauricio Alonso (12-7) enters this fight on a two fight win streak. I am not too familiar with his career, and have only seen him compete once. In that fight, he was very competent on the mat, going for submission after submission before finishing his opponent with a really tight Triangle Choke.
This fight could prove pretty fun on the mat. If Koscheck presses for takedowns, he’ll have to be careful, because Alonso has a very active submission game. I’d favor Josh standing, and I’m expecting to see him get a win and perform in front of his fans. He’s another local fighter, and should have a sizeable crowd advantage. I’m going with Josh Koscheck via TKO.