With July comes Bellator’s first trip to England and the promotion’s second trip to Europe in 2016. Bellator 158 takes place in London at the O2 Arena. Bellator 158 largely pits English fighters against opponents from around the world.
The headliner showcases welterweight star Paul Daley against former Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima. Daley was originally supposed to fight longtime rival Josh Koscheck, but Koscheck pulled out of the fight. Lima returns to the cage for the first time in just over a year for his first fight since he lost the belt to Andrey Koreshkov. This will be Daley’s first MMA fight since beating Andy Uhrich in January.
The co-main event marks a quick turnaround for UFC veteran Matt Mitrione, who takes on fellow heavyweight Oli Thompson. Mitrione won his Bellator debut against Carl Seumanutafa by first-round knockout and will look to continue the trend as he ascends the heavyweight ladder in search of the Bellator heavyweight title. This will be Thompson’s Bellator debut, but he is no stranger to the top promotions. Thompson has fought in the UFC, where he went 0-2.
England’s brightest MMA prospect, Michael “Venom” Page, will also take part in Bellator 158. Page is out to add another highlight-reel knockout to a growing list and dazzle the fans with his striking creativity. Page’s opponent will be veteran Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, who is coming off a loss to Saad Awad in his last fight.
Tri-Star product Francis Carmont will look to notch a victory in the light heavyweight division against Lukasz Klinger in the opening bout of the main card.
The Bellator 158 card will work differently than previous cards. The preliminary portion of the show will be untelevised and starts at 1 p.m. ET on July 16. The main card will air on six-hour tape delay, beginning at 9 p.m. ET, on Spike TV in the United States.
WW: Paul Daley (38-13-2) vs. Douglas Lima (26-6)
Lima was shifted to this card to take on Daley after Daley’s original opponent, the aforementioned Koscheck, pulled out of the fight.
Lima will be Daley’s first true test in quite some time and definitely the best opponent Daley has faced under the Bellator banner. Lima was the Bellator welterweight champion before he was dethroned by the aforementioned Koreshkov. He has shown the ability to flash some leather — he has knocked out his opponent in each of his last seven victories. Lima has put together a strong highlight reel of knockouts in Bellator. His two losses came against Koreshkov and former Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren. Lima does tend to struggle against fighters who have a strong grappling base, but there’s no need to worry about that with Daley, who will most definitely stand and trade with Lima.
Lima has strong leg kicks that can be put to good use against Daley. Any power Lima can sap from Daley’s legs is a plus. If effective, Lima’s kicks could stop any advancement by Daley. It could also contribute to slowing down the Brit’s striking and make Daley rely on his hands, which would play in Lima’s favor by making Daley a one-dimensional striker. It would also open up the opportunity for some takedowns on Lima’s end and potentially cause Daley to gas quickly.
Daley is, of course, going to want to strike in this fight. He doesn’t really ever use his ground game unless his opponent forces his hand. Daley is going to want to try to keep the distance and check Lima’s leg kicks. He will also want to counter with some offense, naturally.
Lima will win this fight by knockout. He simply has more avenues to victory and has looked really good outside of his losses to some of the better welterweights Bellator has ever had on its roster.
HW: Matt Mitrione (10-5) vs. Oli Thompson (17-8)
This fight marks a quick turnaround for Mitrione, who fought less than a month ago. That fight was Mitrione’s Bellator debut. It could have gone bad in a hurry for Mitrione against Carl Seumanutafa, who had the UFC veteran on the ropes at one point before eventually succumbing to a knockout in the first round. Call it Bellator jitters or whatever you’d like, but we should see a much better and more efficient Mitrione in his sophomore Bellator outing.
Mitrione’s debut victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for the fighter, who was recently cut from the UFC. Mitrione’s two recent losses came against Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell, two of the better heavyweights on the planet. To some extent, Mitrione’s loss to Browne could be chalked up to the eye pokes Mitrione suffered over the course of the fight. Those eye pokes really did dramatically change the contest.
Mitrione does have a solid ground game for a Bellator heavyweight. His striking does need some work on the defensive side, but otherwise it is also fairly good. As Seumanutafa learned, Mitrione can be dangerous in the pocket.
Mitrione will most likely look to use both his striking and his ground game to change the landscape of the fight for Thompson. Thompson faced rough times in his two-fight stint with the UFC. He suffered losses to Shawn Jordan and Philip De Fries inside the Octagon. Thompson, like most heavyweights, likes to go for the knockout if given the opportunity. He wasn’t a big heavyweight in his UFC tenure and made a very quick exit from the promotion.
Mitrione is poised to make a run toward the heavyweight crown in Bellator. Thompson won’t stop his rise. Mitrione utilizes his striking and possibly some grinding work against the cage to claim the win.
WW: Michael Page (10-0) vs. Evangelista Santos (21-17)
Page is facing his toughest test to date in the veteran Santos. This has been a scenario we have all clamored to see: Page against a step up in competition.
This will be Cyborg’s fourth fight this year, as he maintains an extremely active pace in the first seven months of 2016. Santos beat Brennan Ward a couple of months ago, stopping Ward’s title train dead in its tracks. Cyborg followed the win with a quick TKO loss to Saad Awad less than a month later at Bellator 154. He is definitely going to look to his grappling game against Page, who has yet to truly be tested on the canvas. Santos was able to submit Ward with a heel hook in 30 seconds. He has a clear-cut advantage over Page in submissions and overall grappling. Meanwhile, Santos can’t afford to stay on the feet. Fighters have been chipping away at his chin for some time, and Cyborg isn’t getting any younger.
The strategy for Page should be obvious: stand and kick Cyborg’s head clear from his body. Highlight-reel knockouts are Page’s bread and butter. He has done awfully well in providing YouTube-caliber moments throughout his career. Page’s confidence comes from his dominant striking. If Santos allows Page to settle in and build his confidence, then the Brazilian will be in for a short and violent night. Page is a multi-dimensional striker who utilizes any and all strikes at his disposal. If he wants to throw a head kick, he will. If he wants to set up a quick combination with his hands and finish with a knee, he will. If he wants to get flashy and creative, well, you get the point.
Page should take this fight with another knockout, but there’s a realistic chance for Santos to pull off the upset with a submission finish.
LHW: Francis Carmont (24-11) vs. Lukasz Klinger (7-2)
Klinger is making his Bellator debut against Bellator and UFC veteran Francis Carmont. Klinger hasn’t particularly fared well in his last three fights. He has gone 1-2 in that span, and he’s coming off an April loss to Atanas Djambazov by knockout in 15 seconds. Klinger has yet to win by decision and none of his fights have seen the third round. That could be a difference against a fighter like Carmont — Klinger’s gas tank might not hold up over the course of three rounds. Carmont is also undoubtedly the hardest test to date for Klinger, and that experience disadvantage could be another huge knock to Klinger’s chances in this encounter.
Carmont was originally slated to fight Linton Vassell, but now he welcomes a newcomer to the roster instead. Carmont is going to look to grind this one out. That is, after all, his normal game plan. Carmont is too smart to stand and trade with somebody who likes his fights to end in a finish. Any mistakes could cost Carmont dearly against somebody like Klinger. Carmont’s grinding style will almost assuredly neutralize Klinger from the start, giving the UFC vet the edge.
Carmont should win this fight utilizing his grinding style to tire out Klinger en route to the victory, be it a finish or a unanimous decision.
Preliminary Card Predictions
FW: James Gallagher (3-0) vs. Mike Cutting (7-4)
Gallagher by second-round knockout
FlyW: Pietro Menga (12-0) vs. Spencer Hewitt (12-10)
Menga by unanimous decision
BW: Luiz Henrique Tosta (12-4) vs. Dean Garnett (8-0)
Garnett by third-round knockout
MW: Jason Radcliffe (8-2) vs. Jack Mason (29-15-1)
Radcliffe by second-round knockout
FW: Chase Morton (6-2) vs. Nathaniel Wood (8-3)
Wood by unanimous decision
MW: CJ Meeks (5-1) vs. Danny Mitchell (17-7-1)
Meeks by unanimous decision
MW: Alex Reid (10-9-1) vs. Manuel Garcia (27-19)
Garcia by unanimous decision
HW: Neil Grove (12-7-1) vs. James Mulheron (8-1)
Grove by first-round knockout
MW: Mike Shipman (8-1) vs. Dominic Clark (9-9)
Shipman by second-round knockout
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