Bellator 123 Main Card preview and predictions

If you are an MMA and combat sports fan, man is this a great weekend for you! If you are also a football fan like me, this weekend is a truly legendary one. A big UFC Fight Night, the premiere of Bellator’s Eleventh season, the return of Invicta FC, a Lion Fight card featuring the legend himself, Yodsanklai Fairtex, college football all day tomorrow, the first NFL Sunday of the season, and a pair of Monday Night Football games? What an epic weekend!

While all of the other stuff will be covered over the coming days, and some has already been covered, now is the time for Bellator.

In what is the first Bellator card of the Scott Coker era,  The massive 14-fight card consists of 10 preliminary fights, that can be seen on spike.com, and features former Middleweight challenger Brennan Ward agains Tamdan McCrory, while bouts featuring Matt Bessette, Mike Mucitelli, and other Bellator veterans.

The four fight main card, which begins at 8/7c, means that bigtime MMA fans should probably switch over to it, since Bellator decided to begin the card an hour earlier than usual. It is also possible that the UFC decided to make it’s initial six-fight main card, which was to begin at 9/8c, so that Bellator wouldn’t extend into the Fight Night’s main card.

As far as the card goes, it’s definitely more intriguing than the UFC’s prelims, for the most part. The main card opens up with a Heavyweight matchup featuring Bobby Lashley (10-2). His opponent is Josh Burns (8-7), who most people haven’t heard of, which makes it seem as if new Strikeforce President Scott Coker is still trying to promote Lashley as a star in MMA. If the 38-year-old wrestler fails to win this one, against a guy who’s lost four times via knockout, Coker may have to ditch his efforts.

Up next on the main card is a bout between the notorious Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal (12-4) and a guy named Dustin Jacoby (10-3) Now, Jacoby is actually a decent fighter with a 10-3 record, but in his three career UFC/WSOF fights, the guy has gone winless. He lost to Clifford Starks in October 2011, and actually got choked out by Chris Camozzi in January 2012, before getting cut. He also lost to current WSOF Middleweight Champion Dave Branch at the first ever WSOF event.

In the co-main event of the evening, a pair of former UFC Heavyweights take the stage, as Cheick Kongo (21-9-2) takes on Lavar Johnson (18-9). Kongo is 3-1 since joining Bellator, with his lone loss coming to Bellator Heavyweight Champion Vitaly Minakov at Bellator 115 back in April. Meanwhile Johnson has gone 1-2 with Bellator, having lost four if his last five and six of his last nine.

In the main event of the evening, which should be over around the time that the UFC’s main card kicks off, Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran (20-5) takes on Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (21-2) in a rematch of their classic January 2013 bout. That fight ended the same way as Freire’s first loss, which came to Joe Warren back in 2010: via split decision.

Curran has gone 11-2 in his career since starting 9-3, with his lone losses coming against former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez back in April 2011, and a shocking loss to Daniel Straus at Bellator 106 last November. Both losses came via decision, and despite losing to Straus for most of their rematch in March, Curran shockingly pulled off a submission with 14 seconds left in the bout. Chances are that if he were to defeat Freire again, a third fight with Straus will result.

Picks: Lashley via 2nd round tko, Lawal via split decision, Kongo via unanimous decision, Freire via 4th round submission.

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