Bellator 120 “Rampage Vs. King Mo” Ramblings
For the first time in promotion history, Bellator will take to pay-per-view tonight with Bellator 120.
The card lost some star power when lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez bailed from the main event with Michael Chandler, but we’ve still got fights to take place and predictions to make, so let’s get on with it.
In the main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will take on Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in a grudge match years in the making. These two have went back-and-forth in the media for some time, and almost came to blows earlier this year when both were on the same card.
Chandler remains on the docket, taking on Will Brooks for the interim 155-pound championship, while middleweight titleholder Alexander Shlemenko holds true to his call-out of Tito Ortiz, facing the UFC Hall of Fame fighter in a non-title bout.
Blagoy Ivanov and Alexander Volkov were promoted from the prelims and meet for the Season 10 heavyweight tournament title, while Michael Page battles Ricky Rainey in a welterweight scrap.
Here’s a look at those fights and a few from the prelims:
Will Jackson-Lawal live up to the hype, or flame-out like previous rivalries?
Remember when we couldn’t wait to see “Rampage” and Rashad Evans finally lock up inside the Octagon? That didn’t turn out to be quite the must-see-TV we all expected.
Will the same happen with Jackson and Lawal? Bellator better hope not.
The one saving grace is that Lawal has been just as outspoken against Jackson as Jackson has been against Lawal. The rivalry with Evans was dominated by Rampage doing much of the talking, only to be taken down time after time.
Lawal can do the same if he wants, as the fighter is a former standout wrestler – though Jackson has stated he’s worked on his takedown defense, and did do a better job in his championship fight with Jon Jones.
With the pressure of the headline fight now on Jackson and Lawal, they need to keep it standing and trade blows. A three-round wrestling match needs to be avoided at all costs.
Can Brooks shock the world and keep Bellator from Alvarez-Chandler 3?
Alvarez has stated that his contract says his next fight with the promotion will be on pay-per-view. And believe me, Bellator does not want to try and promote Alvarez-Brooks instead of Alvarez-Chandler.
Heck, this all could work out for the better for Bellator as long as Chandler wins, as both fighters will carry belts to their third meeting. Champion vs. champion only adds to the sounds of “the greatest trilogy in MMA.” Bellator’s words, not mine.
Brooks, though, has the skills to pull the upset. He’s defeated fighters like Drew Dober, Saad Awad, John Alessio and Alexander Sarnavskiy, but Chandler is a different beast.
This is the man who defeated Alvarez the first time they fought, and has went on to finish Akihiro Gono, Rick Hawn and David Rickels after that submission victory vs. the current champion.
The Chicago-native Brooks will need to pull a Matt Serra-like upset if he hopes to leave the arena with the title.
Will the weight difference be enough for Ortiz to defeat Shlemenko?
In a scene straight out of Hollywood, Shlemenko delivered a video message calling out Ortiz. As you might have expected, Ortiz quickly jumped on the U.S.A. vs. Russia angle, even calling himself the modern-day Rocky.
Unlike Rocky, though, Ortiz will be the bigger fighter and the man with the longer resume in this fight. But will it be enough?
Shlemenko owns back-to-back finishes over Brennan Ward and Doug Marshall to his credit, and has knocked out 29 opponents in all. He would like nothing more than to make Ortiz No. 30 on that list and continue his current 13-fight win streak.
For Ortiz, he’s got to get back to wrestling. But can he, after almost two years away from action and another neck surgery? He looks wonderful in training pictures, but there is a big difference between beating on a dummy and taking down a big, nasty Russian champion.
Can Bellator’s prospects provide highlights on the big stage?
For Bellator to give itself a future on pay-per-view, they need fighters like Ivanov, Volkov, Page, Marcin Held, Mike Richman and a handful of others to do something spectacular.
Ivanov and Volkov are strongly known among the “underground” MMA community, while Page is a master in Kung Fu, having practiced it since he was three years old.
As much as Jackson, Lawal, Chandler and Ortiz mean to this pay-per-view, if Bellator wants to remain in the business of promoting PPV cards, they need these types of fighters to take that next step.
By Dana Becker | Twitter