After a year at the helm of Bellator, Scott Coker puts on the organization's third 'tent pole' event, this time with MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock and former EliteXC star Kimbo Slice in the main event. The two are certainly old by professional athletic standards and one isn't quite sure what to expect, but the rest of the card is filled with younger, more notable Bellator names, including the Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire against top contender Daniel Weichel.
Will Shamrock upend Slice on national TV or is Kimbo destined for another knockout victory? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Friday's fights.
What: Bellator 138: Kimbo vs. Shamrock
Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO.
When: Friday, the preliminary card starts at 7 p.m. ET on MMA Fighting. The five-fight main card starts on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock
Every pro fighter I've talked to here in St. Louis thinks it's a foregone conclusion Slice will win. They'll admit Slice isn't exactly in world-beater shape, but that Shamrock is doing far worse. And maybe they're right. I'm sure they are, but there is something nagging me about Slice during this week. He's been gracious with his time for media, but didn't work out on Wednesday, seems to move rather gingerly and weighed in with a tank top on. He doesn't seem to have the same hulking physique he once did. I have no idea what to make of Shamrock or his seeming transformation. I haven't seem him execute a single level change once in training footage or during this week's workouts.
The point is this. There are a ton of unknowns, but from what I'm hearing and seeing, I get the sense Slice is living on reputation as much as Shamrock. In other words, Slice is getting the benefit of the doubt while Shamrock isn't. Maybe that's deserved, but that wouldn't make it accurate.
Then again, maybe Slice knocks him out in 15 seconds. Who honestly knows with these two?
Patrício Freire vs. Daniel Weichel
Weichel does everything well and will take the fight into deeper waters than some expect, but despite the height differential, Freire appears to be the physically stronger of the two. He's clearly the better power puncher. Weichel's going to look to mix in takedowns with extended work at range just to keep Freire defensive, but it won't be enough. The Brazilian will either counter or corner Weichel in small spaces where avoiding his power is too much to ask.
This is another one of those situations where you just don't know what to expect. I'll side with Lashley given his ability to wrestle, but I'm betting this card has a few surprises for us.
This fight might be one of the upsets of the night. I'm going to side with Straus because he's simply too good to overlook, but Corrales has done everything asked of him at this stage in his career. He's got great finishing instincts, good submissions from on top, a diversity of strikes in the clinch and more. Still, Straus rarely puts himself in obvious trouble and has a clear wrestling advantage. I expect that to carry him through, but Corrales could put on a show here.
All of those wars and hard shots Chandler has been taking are catching up with him, so it's not clear what he's got left. If he's modified his style and tampered down on the heavy sparring in the gym, he can likely turn things around. He'll need to against Campos if he wants to remain a relevant lightweight. He has the clear wrestling edge over someone like Campos and if he fights to his strengths, this should be no issue. We'll see if he does.