The first meeting between rivals Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal took place almost three years ago at Bellator 120. The fight ended with slightly controversial decision in Rampage’s favor. Lawal didn’t take kindly to the slight by the judges. Now, King Mo has a chance to avenge the loss.
Bellator MMA returns after a few weeks off to bring Bellator 175 to the AllState Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Bellator 175 is bringing back the five-fight main card headlined by a non-title fight between two veterans of the sport. The rematch between Rampage and Lawal takes place at the heavyweight level.
The co-main event pits featherweight Emmanuel Sanchez against former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvão. Galvão is coming off a split decision victory over L.C. Davis. He looks to make this fight his next stepping stone back into title contention, but in a new weight class. Sanchez has stepped up and shed the prospect label after a victory over Georgi Karakhanyan. Sanchez could certainly emerge as the next challenger in the featherweight division if he can get past Galvão.
Russian veteran Sergei Kharitonov is hunting for his first Bellator victory. The heavyweight takes on UFC veteran Chase Gormley on the main card. Steve Kozola puts his unbeaten professional run on the line in a lightweight tussle against Jake Roberts. Rounding out the main-card offering, featherweight Noad Lahat takes on Lloyd Carter.
The Bellator 175 preliminary card kicks off on Spike.com at 7 p.m. ET. The main card will air live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has won five straight fights — four with Bellator and one with the UFC — while his opponent, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal has lost two of his last three. Are the stakes the same for these two fighters? Can King Mo avenge his loss to Rampage from nearly three years ago?
What would the stakes even be?
For Lawal, it seems simple. Since this a heavyweight fight, he would be one of the first up for whenever Bellator decides to crown a heavyweight champion.
Meanwhile, this is Jackson’s first official fight at heavyweight with Bellator, but6 his last two fights came at catchweights that fall within the weight range commonly covered by the heavyweight division. Furthermore, he probably would earn a shot just based on his name. Just think: Rampage versus Fedor Emelianenko. It certainly is a really interesting idea.
King Mo is more than capable of avenging his loss to Rampage. It wasn’t some lopsided fight. Instead, it was a hard-fought scrap that could have gone either way, even if it wasn’t entertaining. Lawal did effectively land takedowns. Lawal’s biggest fault was his preference to get the advantage and then do nothing with it but try to coast to victory. If he brings this same mentality into the rematch, Lawal could face a struggle in picking up the win. He needs to utilize the upper hand from the takedowns he lands and score some offense on the mat.
Jackson will win on the feet, but he’s neutralized when he’s put on his back. It will take some ground-and-pound or achieving better position, whether it be side control or full mount, but King Mo must score points. He can’t expect to earn the judges’ nod by landing a takedown and doing nothing with it. If Jackson is landing jabs on the feet the whole fight, but he uses it to control the range and keep Lawal at bay, then he obviously deserves the victory.
Lawal has to have learned from experience. A Jackson victory possibly sets up a fight with Emelianenko, but Lawal has looked better and should take the fight by decision this time around.
Another significant heavyweight name, Sergei Kharitonov, will also be featured on this card. The Russian fighter was the victim of a stunning upset at the hands of Javy Ayala in his last outing, but Kharitonov is back and Ayala is nowhere to be found. Does Kharitonov still have a chance to be a star for the promotion? Can Gormley play a second spoiler to the kickboxer?
With the signing of Emelianenko, Kharitonov took another big hit in his quest to become a promotional star. If Bellator makes a trip to Russia, sure, Kharitonov will be a big name for Bellator, but in the United States it seems highly unlikely after his loss to Ayala.
Kharitonov was a big favorite in that fight. The experience and striking edge certainly leaned in his direction. However, that’s why fights are fought in the cage and not on paper. Anything can happen.
It will be a huge letdown if Kharitonov loses again. Gormley is an ex-UFC fighter and can certainly score the upset, but it should still be a favorable match-up for the Russian. Another loss on Kharitonov’s record would turn this signing into a big loss for Bellator.
Gormley is on a two-fight winning streak, but both victories were split decisions and neither Joey Beltran nor Bobby Brents are really at Kharitonov’s level. However, neither, seemingly, was Ayala.
Speaking of Ayala, he’s a mystery. Despite Ayala’s stunning upset win, Bellator still hasn’t booked him for another fight. He is on a two-fight winning streak after beating Kharitonov and Roy Boughton. Maybe the company is saving him to be one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division for when the title is finally up for grabs. The organization could make a four-man tournament to decide the victor, and a logical choice would be to pit Kharitonov against Ayala in a rematch. However, the Bellator heavyweight division has never made much sense. It’s hard to predict when we’ll see Ayala again.
Steve Kozola — is this a name fight fans need to know?
Kozola has been a force to be reckoned with in his two fights for Bellator and his last fight for the World Series of Fighting. The 27-year-old finished Jonathan Rivera in the second round of his Bellator debut. Then, he scored a first-round finish, via strikes, of Ian Butler. In his only fight of 2016, Kozola ventured to the WSOF and needed less than two minutes to take out Matt Church. Kozola has been dominant in his undefeated professional run, finishing all of his opponents within the distance. He certainly has the power to be an entertaining fighter to watch.
Kozola has been a quiet name in the lightweight division. Sadly, all three of his recent victories came on prelim or postlim bouts, rather than on the televised portion of the cards he appeared on.
Eventually, though, Kozola is going to need to step up and take on high-end talent. Jake Roberts is a good first test, but the run to the top is littered with names like Josh Thomson and Benson Henderson. Kozola is a little green in his game to be taking on those veterans, but if he can get a solid lightweight in his next fight — if he defeats Roberts, of course — then we’ll certainly have a more definitive answer.
Which prelim-card fighter belongs on the main card?
It should be either Justin Patterson or Joaquin Buckley.
These welterweights deserve the push. Both men have seen success inside Bellator. Buckley was previously undefeated until his last fight in Israel against Jackie Gosh. He had finished five of his six previous opponents via strikes.
Patterson’s last Bellator loss came in November 2015 at Bellator 146. Since then he has rattled off three wins with the promotion and one loss outside of Bellator. He, too, has a tendency to score his finishes by way of strikes.
Both guys are fresh faces in a welterweight division that could use some new life.
Main Card (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)
HW: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal
FW: Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Marcos Galvão
HW: Sergei Kharitonov vs. Chase Gormley
LW: Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts
FW: Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter
Preliminary Card (Spike.com, 7 p.m. ET)
WW: Joaquin Buckley vs. Justin Patterson
HW: Prince McLean vs. Adam Maciejewski
LW: Damian Norris vs. Tom Shoaff
LHW: Matt Paul vs. James Bochnovic
BW: Nate Williams vs. Manny Vazquez
LW: J.D. Hardwick vs. Tim Cho
WW: Thomas Holder vs. Josh Streaker
BW: Cory Galloway vs. David Garcia
LW: Brian Akins vs. Mike DeLaVega
FW: James Esposito vs. Asef Askar
BW: Maximillian Fuentes vs. Brandon Shelhart
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