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Bellator 192: Pros predict Rampage Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen, Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald

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LOS ANGELES — Joey Davis might be a bit biased. He and his family have known Quinton Jackson for decades at this point. So Davis, one of Bellator’s top prospects, feels like he has to pick “Rampage” to beat Chael Sonnen at Bellator 192 on Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

“I’m a wrestler, but I know ‘Rampage,’” said Davis, who fights Ian Butler on the card. “He been knowing me since I was a baby, so ‘Rampage’ is gonna win. … I’m gonna say ‘Rampage.’ Maybe knockout. Hopefully. He better knock him out. If he doesn’t knock him out, Chael is gonna have a chance.”

Davis at first said he might have leaned toward Sonnen in the Bellator World Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament first-round matchup. He, like Sonnen, is a wrestler. And he knows how that aspect of MMA can be a game changer. That’s why Aaron Pico, another blue-chip prospect, is picking “The Bad Guy.”

“I thought Sonnen was going to win,” said Pico, who fights Shane Kruchten. “I think he’s gotta take him down. But sometimes I’m terrible with predictions. I think we all are.”

The fighters at Bellator 192 media day were very split on who would win between “Rampage” and Sonnen. Jackson packs a serious punch, but Sonnen is the better wrestler. Meanwhile, Jackson will have a 30-plus pound weight advantage in the bout. It’s a tough one to call.

“I think it’s no secret that Chael is gonna try to go out there, pick him up, take him down and try to beat him up on the ground,” said Michael Chandler, who faces Goiti Yamauchi. “‘Rampage’ is gonna swing for the fences. ‘Rampage’ looks in shape. This is most in shape I’ve seen him in a while.

“You can say what you want about these guys. They sell fights, they bring eyeballs and this is what it’s about. I’m glad to be a part of this.”

The Bellator fighters were much more confident about who would win the co-main event, a welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and challenger Rory MacDonald. Maybe it’s because Lima is a longtime Bellator fighter and MacDonald is something of a UFC carpetbagger. But the Bellator competitors are definitely leaning Lima on Saturday.

“I think Douglas Lima is bigger, more physical,” Chandler said. “Tools-wise, I think they have the same amount of tools. But Lima is just a lot more devastating. I think Lima is just a bigger force in there, a bigger force to be reckoned with and I don’t think Rory is the same Rory pre-Lawler fight that he is now. I don’t know if he went vegan or he went something, but when you look at those two guys next to each other — right now they’re covered up — when you see them with their shirts off, you’ll see a meaty Douglas Lima and a kind of long, skinny Rory. But never underestimate Rory MacDonald. He is who he is for a reason.”

Georgi Karakhanyan, who fights Henry Corrales at Bellator 192, thinks the co-main will go the distance, but Lima will retain the belt.

“I’m gonna go with Douglas Lima decision. Rory is f*cking dangerous. It’s a very good fight, I’m excited,” Karakhanyan said.

“[Lima] might get taken down a few times in the first two rounds, but one of the things about Douglas is he’s a very good defensive fighter, because I’ve watched him from cageside. He’s gonna take his time. He sits on his punches and throws everything with power. Rory has power, too, so it’s scary.”

One of the things just about every fighter brought up was just how under-appreciated Lima is. Perhaps that will change this weekend.

“I’m not gonna be upset if Rory wins,” said Khonry Gracie, the son of Royce, who fights Devon Brock. “There’s no such thing. But I mean, yes, Douglas Lima has been here for a while and, to be honest, I think Douglas Lima is underrated. I mean, he’s a beast. And a lot of people don’t talk about him, don’t cover him because — I don’t know why.”

Davis doesn’t even care who wins. He just hopes the bout can go as long as it can, because he wants to absorb as much expert fighting as possible.

“I ain’t gonna say nothing,” Davis said. “I want it to go five rounds, so I can learn. So I can watch it — I call it ET eyes. I’m trying to learn as much as I can and do what I gotta do so I can get there one day.”

Kruchten has some strong opinions about both fights. He, too, thinks Lima will take the big contest over MacDonald.

“I definitely think Lima is gonna win,” said Kruchten, a Wisconsin native. “Lima is gonna upset MacDonald, which hurts me to say because I’m a big fan of MacDonald. And being so close to Canada, I’m pretty dang close to Canadian myself. But I think Lima is gonna take it.”

And on “Rampage” vs. Sonnen? Kruchten has a very specific outlook for that one.

“I think ‘Rampage’ is gonna knock Chael’s block off,” Kruchten said. “As hard as it hurts, I think he’s gonna knock him out. My friend Tito [Ortiz] already beat the crap out of him, so let’s go again.”

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