Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bellator 86 preview: Askren vs. Amoussou

I'll say this about Spike TV: They've got some kind of production value.

By simply moving from Viacom's MTV2 to the network that I still believe refers to itself as "The Network for Men," Bellator's look just felt cleaner and like they really belonged as the second-highest MMA promotion on this planet.

I guess I shouldn't be shocked, though. Go watch some of TNA's programming from the Fox Sports Net era and tell me it didn't look instantly better mere weeks into the Spike-iMPACT era.

But yea, now that that's out of the way, let's discuss tonight's fights, headlined by a Bellator Welterweight Championship fight between champion Ben Askren and last year's tournament winner, Karl Amoussou.

This is an interesting clash of styles. Amoussou is a judo black belt who has shown high-level knockout potential while standing. Askren is a Division I wrestler with a brown belt in BJJ.

In terms of stand-up, Amoussou has the clear edge, but the problem lies on the ground. Amoussou's ability to fight from the bottom will be limited, especially by Askren, whose BJJ allows him to fight top or bottom while he uses his wrestling to lay-and-pray his opponent into ... well, nothing. That's what lay-and-pray is.

Askren says he does not care at all if people find his fights boring and good for him. Granted, without a good stand-up game he'd better make damn sure he doesn't ever go on a losing skid because no one will hire a boring fighter who doesn't win. But that's for his eventual UFC career to worry about.

Askren's biggest issue is that it will not be as easy to take down Amoussou because of his judo background, and he's also vulnerable to submissions if he's on the bottom. Bottom line is that he can't afford to stay standing with Amoussou, who will give him trouble in that respect.

I'd love to say Amoussou wins simply so wrestlers continue to receive the lesson that you need to be well-rounded to have sustained MMA success, but Amoussou is not the guy.

I'll take Askren to win by decision.

Light Heavyweight tournament quarterfinal: Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal v. Przemyslaw Mysiala

Well, this is not going to be interesting in any way. Seriously, this is a squash, plain and simple. King Mo's most compelling aspect today will be his entrance and inevitable first-round knockout victory. Wake me up when the semifinals happen.

Rest of the main card/Welterweight tournament quarterfinals

Douglas Lima v. Mikhail Tsarev - Lima by submission round 2

Ben Saunders v. Koffi Adzitso - Saunders by decision

Marius Zaromskis v. Brent Weedman - Zaromskis by KO 3

Raul Amaya v. Jose Gomes - Amaya by decision

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