Bellator 69 Preview
(Note: Apologies for the lack of formatting, but I was forced to post this via my phone)
Friday night from the MMA hotbed that is Lake Charles, Louisiana (the old school MMA heads know what Lake Charles is all about), Bellator produces a main card with two of the most mentally unstable fighters in MMA today. Seeing as Bellator recently lost their Middleweight champion, notoriously bat shit insane Hector Lombard, it only seems fitting that Maiquel Falcao gets a chance to pick up that mantle, as he takes on Andreas Spang in the 185lb tournament final. The co-main event features the second half of the Welterweight semi-finals, where equally nutty Karl Amoussou squares off with David Rickels. Possibly the best card on the bout features a woman I still consider to be the top P4P female fighter in Megumi Fujii against Jessica Aguilar. Let us commence with the insanity.
In the Middleweight final, Falcao (-320) comes in as a heavy favourite over Spang (+260), which is appropriate given their respective resumes and Spang’s colossal struggles with Brian Rogers before coming back with a rather shocking knockout to become one of two tournament replacements who finds themselves in a final this weekend. The problems Spang showed in the Rogers fight aren’t things that he’ll be able to rectify quick enough to win this bout. He gets hit a lot, doesn’t have great wrestling and really just doesn’t bring the same diversity of tools that Falcao has. For his part, Falcao at times does everything in his power to lose fights, whether that be grandstanding in front of his opponent, laying on his back doing absolutely nothing, or other assorted hijinks. Also, his struggles to make weight for this fight could call his not-superb-at-the-best-of-times cardio into even further question, which is the one area Spang may hold an advantage. Despite Falcao’s flakiness, he is the far more skilled fighter and should prevail over three rounds even if he does take some time off mid-fight. Spang’s toughness was on full display against Rogers, and Falcao hasn’t displayed any sort of killer instinct in his Bellator tenure thus far, so a Unanimous Decision for Maiquel Falcao is the call here.
The Welterweight semi-final is slightly more intriguing to me, as I still have questions about both fighters. Amoussou’s steamrolling of Chris Lozano was by far the most impressive first round performance from any of the tournament participants, and he is favoured slightly (-155) as a result. Rickels (+135) dispatched Jordan Smith early in the first round, but I don’t put quite as much stock in that since Smith has proven chinny over his career. I think Rickels’ downfall in this bout will be the success that he had on the feet against Smith, as he will chance keeping things on the feet with a far more dangerous striker in the Frenchman. Amoussou’s MO is to jump on the first opening an opponent leaves him, and Rickels’ striking game hasn’t developed to the point that he won’t leave those opportunities. Amoussou’s struggles have always come against fighters who were: A) Bigger, and B) Able to outwrestle him. In the case of Rickels, I don’t see him having the aptitude or desire to outwrestle Amoussou for three rounds coming off of that quick KO. On the feet, I don’t see much of a contest, as Amoussou will find a way to hurt Rickels early and swarm him for the first round (T)KO.
In a battle of the two best 115lb women in Bellator (oh, did I say that Zoila Frausto? Yes, yes I did. By the way, you lost to both of these women in the tournament) we’ll finally see who should be the Bellator women’s champion. I’m not going to wax prophetic on women’s MMA, but I know that Fujii can outgrapple nearly any woman in the sport and her striking is serviceable enough to transition into that aspect of the game. I see Aguilar succumbing to that grappling in the latter half of the fight, once Fujii tires of trading on the feet.
I refuse to break down Bellator HW fights, so that’ll do it for the Bellator 69 breakdown. Check me out on twitter @bradtaschuk to tell me how foolish I am once these fights go completely different than I’ve broken them down.
Maiquel Falcao def. Andreas Spang via Unanimous Decision
Karl Amoussou def. David Rickels via Round 1 (T)KO
Megumi Fujii def. Jessica Aguilar via Round 2 Submission