It’s time for Quick Picks: Breaking down Bellator 204

It’s time for Quick Picks: Breaking down Bellator 204

Time to look at Bellator 204 and make some Quick Picks!

The last episode was just two days ago, and we were looking at PFL 6. The card was pretty action-packed, but sadly I only managed to go 3-2. I didn’t expect Ray Cooper III to blast through Pavel like he did. I won’t make the mistake of picking against the Hawaiian again though, I promise you. Bellator 204 is tonight, and it should be a fun main card. I’ll do my best to break it down. Let’s get started.

Check out the last episode of Quick Picks here.

Last Event Record – 3-2- PFL 6

Total Record – 30-18

Ty-wan Claxton vs. Cris Lencioni

Ty-Wan Claxton (2-0) is a newcomer to MMA but has gone 2-0 so far in Bellator. He is a very decorated wrestler from Ohio State and after going 6-0 as an Amateur has won both of his Bellator professional fights via stoppage. He’s super fast, and his takedowns are nearly unstoppable. He could be a potential star in Bellator and should continue to be brought up slowly.

Cris Lencioni (4-1) missed weight and had plenty of drama with his former manager, who now manages Claxton. They agreed on some stipulations and the fight will go on, with plenty of bad blood. Cris is a well-rounded fighter from Portland who opened his career at 4-0 before dropping his last bout to Daniel Carey. He will look to punch and avoid the takedown.

I think this is a good fight and will come down to who better executes their gameplan. If Cris can keep it standing, he’s got a chance, but he won’t. Claxton should be able to take the fight to the mat and control the action. I expect Claxton to earn a victory here.

James Gallagher vs. Ricky Bandejas

James Gallagher (7-0) is a brash young Irish fighter who trains with Conor McGregor and company. He’s brash and very talented. Jams can throw hands and also has excellent submissions. He makes me nervous at times because he’s so arrogant. I mean, I think that’s a class they teach at Blast Gym, but either way, when you’re that loud, you better be that good.

Ricky Bandejas (10-1) is making his Bellator debut here, and he’s got a chance to make a major splash by defeating James Gallagher here. He has the skillset to do it, he’s just going to have to fight a smart, clean fight. Ricky trains with some good fighters at Nick Catone MMA and won’t be overshadowed by the moment here. He’s got a wife and two children and fights with a purpose.

I think the smart pick here is clearly Gallagher. That said, I don’t always do the smart thing. I think that Ricky Bandejas will bring a desire and level of skill into this fight that James Gallagher has not yet experienced. I’m going with the major upset here and picking Bandejas to win.

Logan Storley vs. AJ Matthews

Logan Storely (8-0) is another one of Bellator’s seemingly can’t-miss wrestling prospects. He trains with Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, Gray Maynard and Aaron Simpson among others at Power MMA. It’s a room full of wrestlers who have made the successful transition to MMA. Storley won six state wrestling championships before going to Minnesota and earning All-American honors all four years. He’s from South Dakota and tonight’s fight will serve as a homecoming of sorts.

AJ Matthews (9-7) is a tough fighter who is better than his record indicates. Unfortunately for him, he has become a guy that fighters looking to make the next step face, and he is competitive with them, but ultimately not on the same level. He broke a four-fight losing skid when he defeated Kendall Grove via Split Decision in his last fight.

Logan Storley is simply put, too much for AJ in this match. He will likely wrestle Matthews to the canvas and keep him there until he either has earned a Unanimous Decision or stops him via ground and pound. AJ is just outgunned here. Go with Storley, it’s the safe pick.

Darrion Caldwell vs. Noad Lahat

Darrion Caldwell (11-1) is currently the Bellator Bantamweight champion. He’s fast, has good standup and can wrestle as well. He’s a well-rounded fighter who trains at Alliance MMA alonside Dominick Cruz, Jeremy Stephens, Aleksander Gustafsson and others. He is a legitimate star in Bellator and has a lot of popularity.  Joe Taimanglo is the only fighter to defeat him, and he avenged that loss in an immediate rematch. He’s one of the best Bantamweights in the sport.

Noad Lahat (12-3) presents a difficult test for champion Caldwell. He also trains with legends at AKA and is a stern test, despite going a pedestrian 3-2 in his last five outings. When you fight Noad, if you give him the slightest opening to grab your neck, you’re done for. This guy has a wicked Rear Naked Choke. He does everything well, but just doesn’t seem to cross over into being elite.

Darrion is the best Bantamweight in Bellator, and I feel like if you’re last name isn’t Freire, you’re outgunned against him. I expect him to have to deal with some adversity early, but he should win this fight agaisnt Noad. He’s just all-around a better fighter and athlete.