Despite having only fought twice in the welterweight division, it’s the 170lb title that Benson Henderson will be challenging for when he makes his Bellator debut on April 22nd at Bellator 153.  When Henderson announced he had signed with Bellator many expected he would get an immediate title shot, it was just a matter of what division he would be fighting in.  Now we know its Andrey Koreshkov’s welterweight title that will be on the line.

Henderson joins Bellator riding high on a two fight winning streak. He defeated Jorge Masvidal and Brandon Thatch in his last two fights as a member of the UFC.  Before that he was on the first two fight losing streak of his career.  He dropped a decision to Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59 and was knocked out by current UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 49 in August of 2014.  On April 22nd Henderson will look to add another title to his resume as he is a former WEC and UFC lightweight champion.

Bellator welterweight champ Andrey Koreshkov won the vacant title at Bellator 140 when he took a unanimous decision from Douglas Lima. It was the second time he’d fought for the Bellator welterweight title.  He lost a decision to former champ Ben Askren in 2013.  Koreshkov is also the Bellator Season 10 Welterweight winner.  The champ only fought once in 2015, the title fight against Lima, and will have a tough task in front of him upon his return to the cage.

Bellator 153 is scheduled to take place April 22nd, 2016 at The Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut and will air live on Spike TV.  Other matchups for the card are expected to be announced in the coming days.  Keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans for more coverage on all things MMA.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Thank you Bellator Fighting Championships for giving us two title fights at Bellator 97.  The event takes place Wednesday, July 31st at the Santa Ana Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.  As I mentioned above, there are two belts on the line when welterweight champ Ben Askren defends against Andrey Koreshkov and lightweight king Michael Chandler meets challenger David Rickels.  This is the first time we’ve ventured to do a B.S. Predictions column for a Bellator event, so we will not be held responsible if anyone actually takes our predictions seriously.  But seriously, I have a good feeling about this, enjoy the fights everyone!

Jared Downing (9-2 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) vs. Patricio Freire (17-2 MMA, 5-2 Bellator)

Freire is coming off a loss to current Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran and was originally scheduled to face Rob Emerson at Bellator 97.  However, Emerson was injured and is now being replaced by Jared Downing.  One can’t help but think this is a pretty easy fight for Freire, who is already scheduled to face Bellator newcomer and UFC veteran Diego Nunes in September.  Downing is 9-2 as a pro and will have his hands full with “Pitbull”.  I’m thinking Patricio submits him late in the first round, and then he’ll set his sights completely on Nunes.

Prediction: Patricio Freire via 1st round submission

 

Ryan Martinez (10-2 MMA, 3-1 Bellator) vs. Vitaly Minakov (11-0 MMA, 3-0 Bellator)

I’ll admit I became a fan of Ryan Martinez after his last two knockout victories over Richard Hale and Travis Wiuff, the latter coming only eighteen seconds into the first round.  But, this fight is intriguing, because Minakov is 11-0 and he thumped Ron Sparks in the semifinals of Bellator’s Summer Series Heavyweight Tournament.   Someone is going down and my gut tells me it’s going to be Ryan Martinez.  My prediction, Vitaly Minakov finds a groove very early and knocks out Ryan Martinez with a vicious flurry.

Prediction: Vitaly Minakov via 1st round KO

 

Muhammed Lawal (10-2 1NC MMA, 2-1 Bellator) vs. Jacob Noe (12-2 1NC MMA, 3-1 Bellator)

It was a big deal when “King Mo” signed with Bellator, but a loss to Emanuel Newton in the Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal stopped the hype train.  If he were to lose to Jacob Noe on Wednesday night, some people might begin to question whether the acquisition of Lawal was a good investment for Bellator. If Noe can get the fight to the ground he might find some success.  However, it’s more likely that Lawal will catch his opponent on the feet and get a TKO victory.

Prediction: Muhammed Lawal via 1st round TKO

 

Ben Askren (11-0 MMA, 8-0 Bellator) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (13-0 MMA, 5-0 Bellator)

This is the first of two title fights on the night and it has the potential to be an incredible matchup.  It’s not extremely common to see two undefeated fighters square off inside the cage, and for a title no less.  At Bellator 97 someone is going to suffer their first career defeat.  Who’s it going to be?  I can’t bet against Askren, despite being known for less than exciting fights, he is still the champion.  And, my guess is he likes being champ too much to do anything foolish in this one.  Askren will win doing what he does best, outwrestling his opponents.

Prediction: Ben Askren via Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Chandler (11-0 MMA, 8-0 Bellator) vs. David Rickels (14-1 MMA, 8-1 Bellator)

Both of these men are talented fighters and this should be one of the most exciting fights of the night.  Chandler has faced the tougher opponents, but Rickels is no slouch.  I’m pretty sure this fight will not go the entire 5 rounds, these guys can finish fights.  I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from Chandler, I’m going to predict he submits Rickels in the 3rd round to retain his Bellator lightweight title.

Prediction: Michael Chandler via 3rd round submission

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer