Ready for some MMA? Whether you are looking for an appetizer for tomorrow’s UFC card, or just want some more MMA in your life, tonight’s Bellator card should be a filling option. Headlined by former UFC and WEC champion Benson Henderson and former Bellator Featherweight champion Patricio Freire, along with various notable names outside the UFC, the card has potential to be one of the best Bellator has had in quite some time. Without further ado, here are my picks for tonight’s main card.
Main card (10/9c, Spike TV)
AJ McKee (4-0) vs. Cody Walker (7-4)
The first bout on the main card is clearly a showcase bout for AJ McKee. The 21-year-old has won all his fights in the first round, with the last three coming via knockout.
That said, Walker is no joke. All of Walker’s wins have come via finish, with four knockouts and three submissions, he’s 1-1 with Bellator during his stint in 2014, and three of his last four fights took place with Legacy FC against some legit competition. This should be a fun fight, and while I think McKee wins, I don’t think it will be easy. Prediction: McKee via tko, round 2.
Derek Anderson (13-2, 1NC) vs. Saad Awad (19-7)
Like the first main card fight, this should be a damn good one. Anderson is mostly a finisher, with 11 of them in 13 wins, but his last two fights have been split decisions. He’s 2-2 since starting 11-0 with a no contest, so he’ll probably try to push the pace tonight.
Speaking of finishes, Awad has 15 of his own, and tends to have fights end early as well. He’s won four of his last five fights, is 7-3 in Bellator overall, and a win will get him closer to a title shot. I think he’ll win in what should be a thrilling fight. Prediction: Awad via tko, round 3.
Georgi Karakhanyan (24-6-1) vs. Bubba Jenkins (11-2)
The co-main event of the evening is a Featherweight rematch that was initially booked as a prelim fight, but cooler heads prevailed, and the fight got the co-main slot.
Karakhanyan is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with 14 submission wins. However, since being granted his release from WSOF in 2014, the former WSOF champion has gone 1-2 in Bellator, with each loss coming via decision. His lone win with the promotion came in his first fight here, a first round submission win over Jenkins.
As for Jenkins, the former All-American wrestler has fought 10 times for Bellator, garnering an 8-2 record with the promotion. Since losing to Karakhanyan in January 2014, he’s won three straight. He’s got seven finishes, but has a good gas tank too. I don’t think that will play into part here, and I see a second round finish. Prediction: Karakhanyan via submission, round 2 .
Benson Henderson (23-6) vs. Patricio Freire (25-3)
In the main event of the evening, former UFC and WEC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson will look to rebound from a humbling Bellator debut loss to Welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov, when he takes on former Bellator Featherweight champion Patricio Freire. Henderson amassed an 11-3 record with the UFC from 2011 to November of last year, before bolting to Bellator. The former champion has 10 submission and 11 decision wins, and while he looked undersized and overmatched against Koreshkov, things should be different tonight.
Freire is a Featherweight who will be undersized here, but make no mistake, he’s very dangerous. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt has nine submissions to his credit, along with 10 knockouts. He’s never had a losing streak, but has had win streaks of 14, 3 and 7 in his career between losses. He rebounded from losing a decision to Daniel Straus in November of last yet by submitting Henry Corrales in April, and he does have a chance here.
For Henderson, the plan will likely be to stay out of Freire’s range and go for timely takedowns. I think he’ll prevail, and seeing how each of Freire’s losses have come via decision , I’m expecting tonight to be his fourth. Prediction: Henderson via decision.