Bellator 193 heads to the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif., with a rather thin card following last week’s big Bellator 192 event.
The headliner takes place at a catchweight of 180 pounds with UFC veteran Lorenz Larkin up against Fernando Gonzalez. Larkin made the jump to greener pastures with Bellator, but he has failed to find a victory through two fights with the organization. The losses have set Larkin back, and now he has another tough test in the Bellator cage. Gonzalez has won his last two fights against Brennan Ward and Brandon Girtz. Gonzalez can certainly flirt with a spot near the top of the division if he defeats Larkin.
The co-main event heads to the lightweight division, where another Bellator veteran, Saad Awad, takes on J.J. Ambrose. Ambrose has won his last five fights on the regional circuit and hasn’t fought for Bellator since Bellator 103. Awad is currently riding a two-fight winning streak. Awad’s most recent victory came against Zach Freeman in November.
The main card also includes a showdown at middleweight between Kendall Grove and A.J. Matthews, as well as a lightweight affair featuring Steve Kozola and Jake Smith.
The highlight of the preliminary card is top prospect Tyrell Fortune. The heavyweight will look to cash in and move his record to 4-0 against Joe Hernandez.
The Bellator 193 preliminary card takes place on Bellator.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The main card will air live on the Paramount Network beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Former UFC fighter Lorenz Larkin has not had much luck in his Bellator career. After losses to champion Douglas Lima and dangerous striker Paul Daley, Larkin now draws Fernando Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s only recent loss came in a split decision against blue-chip prospect Michael Page. Is Larkin doomed to lose a third straight Bellator fight?
Larkin could very well be on his way there, but this should be the fight where he turns around his Bellator career. Gonzalez is a tough fighter who, when he came to Bellator, really made an unbelievable run. He went on a five-fight winning streak that includes victories over guys like Marius Zaromskis, Karl Amoussou and Gilbert Smith. Both Amoussou and Zaromskis, at the time, were among the better names on the Bellator roster. Gonzalez was 20-13 before making his Bellator debut, but he now sports a 27-14 record. It has been a great turnaround for the veteran.
Larkin’s last two losses are absolute killers. His UFC experience and UFC rankings when he left the promotion were enough to suggest that he’d easily emerge as one of the better fighters on the Bellator roster. However, Larkin failed to overcome Lima. Then, he couldn’t top Daley in what should have been a winnable fight. Larkin can’t afford a third straight loss.
Larkin clearly has the experience to win this type of fight. Gonzalez likes to draw people into brawls. If Gonzalez can succeed in doing this against his opponent, it normally turns into a favorable match-up for the Bellator veteran. Larkin either needs to win this fight with a technical striking display or bring this fight to the ground, which would be the better option. He should put Gonzalez on his back and make him work. Larkin should slow the pace of this fight and avoid swinging, looping shots that are only going to turn this clash in Gonzalez’s favor.
Compared to Bellator 192, Bellator 193 has a very shallow lineup. The promotion is reintroducing J.J. Ambrose at the event, though. Will Ambrose extend his five-fight winning streak when he battles Saad Awad?
This is a good test for Ambrose, whose last fought for Bellator came in 2013. That appearance resulted in a loss for Ambrose to David Rickels by way of a technical knockout. No shame there, as Rickels has been a solid veteran for the promotion. Ambrose makes his return to the Bellator cage in this fight against another solid veteran in Awad.
Awad should be able to take this fight with his wrestling. If he does go that route, then he needs to be wary of the guillotine choke from Ambrose. Two of Ambrose’s victories in his current streak have come by guillotine. Awad has performed well so far in Bellator. His only losses have come against the bigger Bellator veterans like Rickels, Will Brooks and Patricky Freire.
It looks like Ambrose could be headed for another one-and-done situation with Bellator if he loses this fight. Awad is on a two-fight winning streak, and a victory here could set him up for a shot against one of the top fighters in the promotion.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Tyrell Fortune fights on the preliminary card, but let’s give him some recognition. He is an up-and-coming prospect in Bellator’s heavyweight division after making the jump from collegiate wrestling. Fortune should get an easy match-up here to show just how good his wrestling is and how far along his striking has come.
Fortune has amassed a 3-0 record so far in his young career. He’s a sorely needed prospect to help bolster the aging heavyweight division in Bellator — just a look at the promotion’s heavyweight tournament, which features several light heavyweights.
Main Card (Paramount Network, 9 p.m. ET)
Catchweight (180 pounds): Fernando Gonzalez vs. Lorenz Larkin
LW: J.J. Ambrose vs. Saad Awad
MW: A.J. Matthews vs. Kendall Grove
LW: Jake Smith vs. Steve Kozola
Preliminary Card (Bellator.com, 8 p.m. ET)
Catchweight: Mark Vorgeas vs. Tim Riscen
HW: Ben Beebe vs. Everett Cummings
FW: Mike Andaya vs. Julio Aguilera
FW: Andrew Natividad vs. Justin Lawrence
LW: Demarcus Brown vs. Joshua Jones
HW: Joe Hernandez vs. Tyrell Fortune
MW: Moses Murrietta vs. Chris Herrera
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