Bellator has declared two or three big fights for upcoming fight cards, and I will give my thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas, Bellator 214
Featherweight competition Juan Archuleta has decided to drop down to bantamweight and he will take on top prospect Ricky Bandejas at Bellator 214, which takes place January 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Archuleta (21-1) is on a 16-fight win series and is 3-0 thus far in Bellator with his latest victory being a choice win over Jeremy Spoon back in November. Bandejas (11-1) started his Bellator career with a bang when he pumped out Bellator’s gold boy James Gallagher last summer. He has only lost once in his career, to UFC vet Nick Pace, and he retains a notable triumph over current UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili. That is such a good battle between two fighters on the upswing, and it’s not a simple one to select considering both guys are incredibly gifted and both are riding tons of momentum into this battle. I think Archuleta is somewhat more solid and proven, but Bandejas is a exceptional prospect himself. Start looking for a close line with a slight lean towards Archuleta.
Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop 2, Bellator 217
Heavyweights Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop are set to rematch at Bellator 217, taking place February 16 at Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Neslon (23-16) is 1-2 so much in Bellator and most recently was pumped out by Sergei Kharitonov in an upset. Nelson previously defeated Cro Cop via TKO back in UFC 137 at 2011. Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) will soon be producing his inaugural Bellator introduction on the insides of a nine-fight win series, wiht lots of those wins coming in RIZIN. Nelson might have beaten Cro Cop the first time, but based on Cro Cop’s long win streak and Nelson’s diminishing chin I’d have to favor Cro Cop to win the rematch.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Andrey Koreshkov, Bellator 220
An exciting welterweight bout between strikers Lorenz Larkin and Andrey Koreshkov is set to headline Bellator 200, occurring March 29 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. Larkin (20-7, 1 NC) is only 2-2 so far in Bellator, but he’s coming off of successive wins over Fernando Gonzalez and Ion Pascu. The Pascu battle was supposed to be a welterweight tournament alternate bout, bout Bellator should figure they do not need a repacement fighter so they gave Larkin this battle against Koreshkov. Despite Larkin being a small disappointment so much since registering a big free-agent contract with Bellator, he still possesses knockout power that will consistently make him a threat to beat anyone in the division. Koreshkov (21-3) is 12-3 overall in Bellator and most recently lost by submission to Douglas Lima in the opening round of this welterweight tournament. His ground game and chin have appeared shaky occasionally at Bellator, but such as Larkin he’s always a threat to win by knockout. This should be a very competitive fight but Koreshkov constantly gets massive respect from bettors and I guess that he wil be a small favorite here.
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