Bellator 97 will take place tonight and the co-main event of the fight card will be for the welterweight title as Ben Askren (11-0) defends the title against season seven tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov (13-0).
This will be the fourth title defense for Askren since winning the title in 2010 and Koreshkov is looking to become the third welterweight champion in the history of Bellator MMA.
Askren’s last title defense came at the beginning of this year when he defeated Karl Amoussou at the end of the third round by doctor stoppage at Bellator 86. It was the first time that Askren scored a stoppage victory since his fourth professional fight when he defeated Ryan Thomas in the season two welterweight tournament quarterfinal at Bellator 14 in 2010.
Koreshkov is one of several Russian fighters that has entered Bellator and had success in the promotion. He initially entered the Bellator in early 2012 and won two fights before being entered into the season seven tournament and defeated Jordan Smith, Marius Zaromskis and Lyman Good to win the tournament. Eight of his career wins have come by TKO/KO and three of those wins have come in Bellator.
If Koreshkov is going to win this fight, he must keep the fight on the feet. Askren has said since entering Bellator that is gameplan is simple and that he will come straight at his opponent and take the fight to the ground. He has been able to take all of his opponents down and Koreshkov will have to stop the takedowns to give himself a chance to win.
For Askren, he has to watch out for the quick and powerful hands of Koreshkov. The only likely scenerio that will allow Koreshkov to defeat Askren is with his striking. He has shown his knockout power in Bellator and if he is going to get a knockout victory, it will come in the first round as seven of his eight TKO/KO wins have come in the first round.
Every opponent that has faced Askren has said that they will be able to stop the takedowns but that has not happened and Koreshkov will end up on his back in this fight. The only question is whether he will be able to get back to his feet. Askren should retain the Bellator welterweight title but Koreshkov has the quick hands that could end the reign of the Bellator champion.