Bellator has announced a couple of big fights for upcoming battle cards, and I’ll present my thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas, Bellator 214
Featherweight competition Juan Archuleta has opted to drop down to bantamweight and he will take on top prospect Ricky Bandejas in Bellator 214, which takes place January 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Archuleta (21-1) is really on a 16-fight win streak and is 3-0 thus far in Bellator with his most recent victory being a choice win over Jeremy Spoon back in November. Bandejas (11-1) started off his Bellator career with a bang when he brutally knocked out Bellator’s golden boy James Gallagher this past summer. He has only lost once in his profession, to UFC vet Nick Pace, and he holds a notable triumph over current UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili. This is such a good fight between two fighters on the rise, and it’s not a simple one to select considering both guys are extremely gifted and both are driving a great deal of momentum into this fight. I believe Archuleta is a bit more solid and proven, but Bandejas is a special prospect himself. Look for a close line with a little lean towards Archuleta.
Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop 2, Bellator 217
Heavyweights Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop are place to rematch in Bellator 217, taking place February 16 at Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Neslon (23-16) is 1-2 so far in Bellator and most recently was knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov in an upset. Nelson previously defeated Cro Cop via TKO back in UFC 137 at 2011. Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) will be making his long-awaited Bellator introduction on the heels of a nine-fight win streak, wiht lots of those wins coming from RIZIN. Nelson might have beaten Cro Cop the first time, but based on Cro Cop’s long win streak and Nelson’s declining chin I would have to prefer Cro Cop to win the rematch.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Andrey Koreshkov, Bellator 220
An exciting welterweight bout between strikers Lorenz Larkin and Andrey Koreshkov is set to headline Bellator 200, taking place March 29 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. Larkin (20-7, 1 NC) is only 2-2 so far in Bellator, but he’s coming off of successive wins over Fernando Gonzalez and Ion Pascu. The Pascu fight was likely to become a welterweight tournament alternate bout, bout Bellator should figure they do not require a repacement fighter therefore they gave Larkin this battle against Koreshkov. Despite Larkin becoming a bit of a disappointment so far since signing a big free-agent contract with Bellator, he still possesses knockout power that will always make him a threat to beat anybody in the branch. Koreshkov (21-3) is 12-3 overall in Bellator and most recently lost by submission to Douglas Lima from the opening round of this welterweight tournament. His ground game and chin have looked shaky occasionally in Bellator, but like Larkin he is always a threat to win by knockout. This should be quite a competitive fight but Koreshkov constantly gets massive admiration from bettors and I guess he be a small favorite here.
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