Hello everyone. Tonight is Bellator 172, a card that was the showstopper in a weekend full of MMA action from Bellator, the UFC, LFA, Cage Warriors, etc. That’s right, Bellator was going to be the showstopper, despite a not so great undercard, due to the fact that it was going to mark the Bellator debut of MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko.
Well a couple of hours ago, Fedor’s opponent, former UFC competitor Matt Mitrione, fell ill and the bout got cancelled. An extremely short notice replacement bout couldn’t be reached so now, the hotly anticipated Fedor fight is off, and fans are left with a standard Bellator card. The main event pits two scrappy Lightweights, the co-main is a Heavyweight bout featuring a well-known former UFC fighter, a Women’s Flyweight bout is on deck, and the main card opener marks the Bellator debut of former UFC title challenger Josh Koscheck. It’s not a bad main card at all. Not great, but still good. However, the loss of the Fedor fight definitely deteriorates the spirit and excitement level of the card and the fans.
Alas, I’ll still tune in, surely many others will, and here are my predictions for what is now a four-fight, Fedorless main card.
Bellator 172 Main Card (9/8c, Spike TV)
Josh Koscheck (17-10) vs. Mauricio Alonso (12-7, 1 NC)
At long last, Josh Koscheck is making his Bellator debut. After signing with the promotion in June 2015, the former challenger to Georges St. Pierre’s UFC Welterweight title was originally slated to make his Bellator debut in January 2016. Injuries changed that, but finally, he’s making his promotional debut. The star collegiate wrestler enters the promotion on quite a cold streak. He’s lost his last five fights in a row, four straight via finish, three of which have come in the first round. His last win came in February 2012 via controversial decision over Mike Pierce, and aside from that, his only win since early 2010 came against Matt Hughes, in what turned out to be Hughes’ last fight.
Koscheck has won five fights via knockout and submission apiece, and seven via decision. He’s also been knocked and submitted three times apiece, and has lost four fights via decision. This is his first fight in two years, and he’s 39-years-old. As a result, it’s fair to presume that Bellator might throw him to the wolves at this point. However, it’s also likely that since they’ve invested so much time in him, they’d throw him a bone.
Well, Koscheck’s opponent is Mauricio Alonso. Alonso is 36-years-old and has won two straight, but is 3-3 with a no contest in his last seven bouts, with four straight going the distance. He’s won four fights via knockout, six via decision, and has only been finished once. However, he has been decisioned in six of his losses. As a result, it’s fair to presume that unless he tags and mauls Koscheck early, he’ll be taken down as Koscheck tries to smother him. I won’t be shocked at all if Koscheck gets finished yet again, for the fifth straight time. For some strange reason though, I sense that Koscheck will be able to use his wrestling to grind this one out. Consider this a gut pick over a head pick. Prediction: Koscheck via decision.
Olli Thompson (17-9) vs. Cheick Kongo (25-10-2)
The co-main event may be a Heavyweight fight, but it’s not hard to understand why there isn’t much of a buzz for it at all. It’s a chore to watch Kongo fight these days, with each of his last four fights going the distance after lackluster performances, including three via split decision in that span. He does have 12 knockout and six submission wins, but he’s also gone the distance 17 times, and even fights that he finishes aren’t too exciting. Basically, it’s not hard to understand why the promotion hasn’t put him in a title fight during his time there.
As for Thompson, he’s a 37-year-old journeyman who’s fought all over the place. He lost his Bellator debut to Matt Mitrione last July, thus halting a five fight winning streak. He’s got seven knockout and six submission victories, but has also been knocked out four times and submitted twice. He’s a solid fighter with a good career. However, as crazy and shocking as it would be to see him pull off the upset here, I just don’t see it happening. Hopefully, it’s a fight that at the very least, doesn’t go the distance. Prediction: Kongo via tko, round 2.
Josh Thomson (22-8, 1 NC) vs. Patricky Freire (16-8)
In what is now the main event of the evening, former Strikeforce Lightweight champion will take on the always game Patricky Pitbull. Thomson is 2-0 since entering the Bellator cage, after a three-fight losing streak ended his second UFC stint. He’s won ten fights via submission, as well as six knockout and decision wins apiece. He’s only been finished once, back in 2004, and his last seven losses have come via decision. A win tonight could very well result in a title shot for him.
As for Freire, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt only has one submission win, but does have ten wins in knockout fashion. He’s also gone the distance ten times, going 5-5 in such bouts. The “Pitbull” brother has been with the company for nearly six years now, going 9-7 with the promotion. His last fight was back in July against Michael Chandler, where he was knocked out for just the second time in his career.
In all, this is a very even fight. Both men are experienced, have great grappling, and also love to stand and duke it out. Either man can get the finish here, but it feels like the kind of fight that will go the full 15 minutes. I trust Pitbull’s gas tank, but Thomson has been in five-rounder several times in the past. I think that will benefit him here, as he wins a fun fight that’s likely to go the distance. Prediction: Thompson via decision.