The Bellator light heavyweight title is up for grabs as champion Emanuel Newton will look to test out his talents against surging contender Liam McGeary. Many other Brits join the card, including Paul Daley and Linton Vassell. There's also something of an oddity fight, as 'King' Mo Lawal jumps up to heavyweight to take on Cheick Kongo.
What: Bellator 134: Newton vs. McGeary
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.
When: Friday, the preliminary card starts at 6:45 p.m. ET on MMA Fighting. The five-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Emanuel Newton vs. Liam McGeary
I really just don't know about this one. Newton could very likely get lit up if the fight stays on the feet for a prolonged period of time. McGeary has a stinging jab, excellent reactive knees, great power and killer finishing instincts. The problem is the ground, but perhaps for both fighters. McGeary lacks a lot of necessary skills to defend takedowns or scrambles, but is willing to take risks on the ground. The question is whether Newton can and will take advantage of them. It's just hard to say with any certainty. I'm going to say yes because I do believe Newton has the takedowns, passing and positional control to get it done, but if he's not bringing his A-game, it's anyone's fight.
Paul Daley vs. Andre Santos
There's probably not much need to over think this one. Daley's going to sprawl and brawl enough to eventually find an opening and bang Santos out. With which particular weapon or how early, I can't say. The Brazilian is capable of dragging the fight out if needed, I just question his ability to put much offense together. I don't have those concerns for Daley.
Cheick Kongo vs. Muhammed Lawal
Lawal probably has little interest in trying to strike on the outside with Kongo. This one is going to be fought in the clinch or on the ground. The key for me will be what kind of takedown Lawal attempts and how their strength matches up. Kongo is very adept at stopping lots of varieties of double and knee picks. He's also good about pummeling for inside control in the clinch. He's not so great with defending single leg attempts. Lawal could potentially have some success there. Ultimately, though, I wonder if Kongo's too big and too defensively sound for Lawal to do damage in control positions, something that cost him the Rampage Jackson fight. Against an opponent this size, I suspect he is.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Linton Vassell
Vassell isn't necessarily the total package, but he might be one step down from that. He's a great athlete with pretty respectable skills in virtually every department of MMA. He's probably the best at ground and pound while advancing position on the ground, but whatever the case, it's not clear where he's weaker than Sokoudjou anywhere in the fight. I look for Vassell to score from the clinch and finish off a wounded Sokoudjou from there.
Brennan Ward vs. Curtis Millender
I'm tempted to pick Ward for a couple of reasons. His ferocity has brought him good fortune a lot in his career, plus he's at welterweight now. That said, Millender doesn't have much of a name, but he's a legit prospect. With a background in wrestling, he has the chops there to at least keep himself in the fight opposite Ward, who also has wrestling in his arsenal. More importantly, Millender is tall and uses his long striking skills very well. He fights tall. He's got solid defense, rangy body kicks and tremendous KO power in his hands. I think we're looking at an upset here.