Bellator is back on the road just one week after their Kimbo vs. Shamrock extravaganza. There are no titles on the line or even title-eliminator bouts, but they are bringing back names that need important wins to get back into contendership track.
What: Bellator 139: Kongo vs. Volkov
Where: Kansas Star Casino, Mulvane, KS
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.
I seriously doubt Kongo is going to spend an extended amount of time trying to strike at distance with Volkov. The Russian has all of Kongo's weapons there and is longer, younger and has fewer miles on his body. Where he lacks, however, is in the takedown department. Kongo's reliance on the fence for takedowns along with Volkov's ever improving takedown defense might make things very interesting for the UFC veteran, but I'm going to take the upset and guess that Kongo will be able to smother or succeed with his takedowns long enough to grab a decision victory.
Alessio has historically had rock solid takedown defense, good scrambling ability and more, but he's an older fighter now. His strengths, while formidable, just aren't what they used to be. Rickels can be reckless, but he's also going to get Alessio into a space where he counterfights. Of late, Alessio seems to not do much in those contexts. I doubt Rickels is about to get the finish, but I expect him to out hustle Alessio, and that's probably enough.
Unless Schilling is reckless or just not there, this is his fight to lose. Kato should at least be somewhat accommodating on the feet, which is just enough room for Schilling to wreck him. I do expect rushed takedown entries and clinch attempts from Kato, so we'll need to see how Schilling works in that space, but this is a more than manageable task.
This is a tougher fight than folks may realize. Sanchez is a Roufusport product who can absolutely strike. Well, he's plenty potent in offense, although his defense needs a touch of work (he doesn't move enough). His takedown defense is also probably not better than what Curran can mix in. The former champ has faced strikers with heavier punches and faster hand speeds like Shahbulat Shamhalaev, but he's also seemingly not quite himself these days. I like Curran's defensive priorities to keep him in this one and take over as time goes on, but look out. Sanchez is a very legitimate fighter.