I’ll be honest, I’m not very involved in smaller organizations such as Bellator, but considering the star power they’ve managed to gain on this weekend’s card, it feels just like a UFC pay-per-view event. This Saturday, Bellator 106 should go down as one of Bellator’s biggest events of all time. Headlined by a lightweight title fight between two savages in Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, this rematch should do nothing less than entertain. A stacked main card is the story of this event, so let’s get to some predictions.
Mike Richman vs. Akop Stepanyan
The main card opens with an intriguing bout between two guys like to strike on their feet. Mike Richman, a crisp puncher who throws in volume, has had the better Bellator career with a 4-2 record compared to Akop’s 1-3 Bellator resume. However, styles make fights, not record. Stepanyan is a flashy striker who throws unorthodox kicks unpredictably.
Both of these guys don’t have much to say on the ground, as they’ve both been seen as having weak ground games; which explains their tendency to get taken down. With that said, Richman has yet to be submitted, so we could see Richman going for takedowns if the stand-up doesn’t play out to his liking. Overall, Richman packs the hard punch on the feet and as long as he doesn’t get caught standing still by one of many kicks from Stepanyan’s arsenal, he should be able to rock Akop with punchers, or take him down and rough him up there. Expect power to be displayed as Richman scores himself a first round TKO.
Mike Richman via 1st Rd TKO
King Mo vs. Emanuel Newton
If you’re expecting history to repeat itself, you’ll be sadly disappointed. We were all shocked when we saw Lawal unconscious on the mat after eating a flush spinning back fist from a relatively unknown opponent, and now he has come for revenge. King Mo received heavy criticism, claiming he was too cocky and needs to keep his hands up. However, that’s his style. Lawal has improved his boxing considerably since starting MMA, and that hands-down swagger is just how he fights. Usually, Mo is able to avoid predictable combinations and use a typical slip-and-rip method of striking; that spinning back fist from Newton was just something he didn’t see coming.
Heading into a rematch, there isn’t really much Newton can do. Newton is a well-rounded fighter with a vast arsenal of striking techniques, but don’t expect him to be able to showcase much of it, if any. Look for a very cautious Lawal to take the fight to the ground when he can, and absolutely punish Newton from top position. There, Newton can’t hit Lawal with any unexpected upset-creating techniques. As long as King Mo doesn’t get too cocky on the feet, and respect Newton’s skills, it should be a fairly easy victory for Muhammed Lawal, who will batter Newton until a late stoppage.
King Mo via 3rd Rd TKO
Daniel Straus vs. Pat Curran
A rematch of a bout that took place in 2009 when Pat Curran knocked out Daniel Straus, this rematch fight will take place after Straus has racked up 17 more victories out of just 18 more fights. Daniel Straus is an extremely durable fighter who is well-rounded, and used to having to fight for his victories. With top-notch cardio and physicality on his side, he needs to close the distance and grind Pat Curran down. That’s easier said than done however as Curran’s ever-improved striking will most definitely pose problems. Ontop of his striking, Curran’s high-level submission skills will yet give Straus more to deal with even if he ties the fight up.
Straus’s goal in this fight is to drag it out as long as possible, but Curran is just too good at finishing. While Curran has been out-struck on the feet before, Daniel Straus isn’t the guy to do it. An effective striking game will injure Straus, who will then grow desperate. This desperation will lead him to his demise as Curran wraps up a submission mid-way through the fight.
Pat Curran via 2nd Rd Submission
Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez
A rematch of what was an amazing first fight, Chandler and Alvarez will meet again for the Bellator lightweight title after Alvarez has sat nearly one full year on the shelf. Chandler won the first bout with a 4th round rear naked choke after dropping and dazing Alvarez. It was a stunning finish in a back and forth fight that saw both fighters will moments where the fight was on the brink of being stopped.
Heading into this fight, one can not deny Chandler the advantage. Having the opportunity to have actually fought twice this year as opposed to Alvarez will pose as a huge advantage. With that said, I don’t expect cardio to really be an issue for either fighter. They may fatigue in later rounds, but expect both of them to fatigue at the same rate.
On the feet, Chandler has been able to showcase his extremely robust punching power. Chandler has the opportunity to end this fight on a punch’s notice, and Alvarez’ lack of defense could be a pivotal aspect of this fight, as it was in the first one. Hopefully Alvarez has had the time to lock up his striking defense a bit, because his offense has been absolutely out-standing. Alvarez is as quick as they come with his hands, but Chandler’s explosiveness is definitely something to marvel out. Look for Alvarez to be landing more often and with greater volume, but when Chandler throws, it comes fast, hard, and with lots of power.
The wrestling game I believe will be the biggest factor in this fight. Chandler I would say is the stronger fighter of the two, but Alvarez has the advantage in speed and submissions. While Chandler was able to submit Alvarez, it wasn’t without nearly knocking him out with punches before. Look for Alvarez to remain deadly on the ground as he has deceptively tricky submission attempts.
Ultimately, I see this being very similar to the first in being a back-and-forth fight. Alvarez could be ahead on points a few rounds in, but Chandler’s power and Alvarez’s lack of defense is what makes me hesitant in believing in Alvarez. If Eddie comes in like a new-and-improved Eddie Alvarez, showcasing some more weapons we have not yet seen, then expect him to edge a decision. Otherwise, bank on Chandler winning on points in the end as his punching power and strength in the wrestling game is enough to stay ahead.
Michael Chandler via Unanimous Decision