The opening round of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament will conclude tonight as current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader starts his pursuit of being a two-division champion as he meets Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the main event of Bellator 199.
Tonight’s fight card will come from the SAP Center in San Jose, California and along with the heavyweight main event, the main card on the Paramount Network will feature the Bellator debut of former World Series of Fighting welterweight champion Jon Fitch and rising featherweight prospect Aaron Pico.
Now if you decided to watch tonight’s Bellator 199, it’s due to the main event. During this week’s podcast, I mentioned that Bader vs. King Mo is not my top fight of the weekend, but it’s still one of my top five fights. If you did not listen to this week’s podcast, I noted that my top MMA fight this weekend is Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 224.
For regular listeners of The MMA Report Podcast, you know my co-host, Daniel Galvan has been saying since this tournament was announced that his pick to win the tournament is Bader. Initially, my pick to win this tournament was Matt Mitrione and I am not as confident as I once was after seeing his fight against Roy Nelson. Speaking of Mitrione, the winner of Bader vs. King Mo will meet Mitrione in the semifinals of this tournament and the trash talking between Mitrione and King Mo has already started.
When it comes to Bader vs. King Mo, this is what I would consider a coin-flip fight. There is a little history between these two fighters as they once met on the college wrestling mat and King Mo won that match. But this is mixed martial arts and not college wrestling. I do think their wrestling abilities will cancel each other out and this fight will play out on the feet. In terms of overall striking, I give an edge to King Mo, but Bader does have that one shot power that could end the night for his opponent. While I am not confident in my pick here, I am going with King Mo and I think he will walk away with a decision victory.
In the co-main event of Bellator 199, we will see the Bellator debut of Jon Fitch as he takes on Paul Daley. When this fight was announced by Bellator, this was a head scratcher. In fact, I do not understand the thought process in making this fight from a fans perspective. The reason I say that is due to the fact if Fitch wins this fight, it’s not likely to be a performance that is going to get fans talking. Now if Daley wins this fight, it’s most likely a fan pleasing performance. Breaking down this fight is super simple: Fitch needs to get the fight to the ground and Daley needs to keep the fight on the fight. Just like the main event, I am not super confident in my pick in this fight. I am going to go with Daley as I think he can score a knockout in the opening round.
The rest of the main card on the Paramount Network will see a heavyweight, lightweight, and featherweight bout. In the heavyweight matchup, MMA veteran Cheick Kongo will take on Javy Ayala and the winner of this fight will clearly be a candidate as a heavyweight tournament replacement if one is needed. The lightweight matchup will feature the undefeated Carrington Banks as he meets Adam Piccolotti, who will be looking to snap a two fight losing streak. And in the featherweight bout, Aaron Pico will look for his third straight victory when he takes on Lee Morrison. I am definitely interested in seeing how Pico performs and I think the matchup between Banks and Piccolotti is an under the radar fight this weekend.
Bellator 199 Pre-Fight Stats:
– Ryan Bader is currently on a four fight winning streak and is 9-1 in his last 10 fights.
– Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal is currently tied with Eduardo Dantas, Rick Hawn, and Saad Awad for the 6th most wins (10) in Bellator history (Michael Chandler #1, 15).
– Tonight will mark the 15th fight in Bellator for Lawal, which will tie him with Daniel Straus for 4th most fights in Bellator history (David Rickels, Patricky Pitbull, and Michael Chandler tied for most at 19).
– Lawal has the 11th most cage time (2:42:45) in Bellator history (Pat Curran #1, 4:19:39).
– Lawal is tied with Linton Vassell for the 2nd most wins (7) in Bellator light heavyweight division history (Emanuel Newton and Liam McGeary tied for most with 8).
– Lawal has the most TKO/KO wins (5) in Bellator light heavyweight division history (Liam McGeary #2, 4).
– Tonight marks the first fight for Lawal since defeating Quentin “Rampage” Jackson 407 days ago at Bellator 175 (1 year, 1 month, 12 days).
– Jon Fitch enters Bellator riding a four fight winning streak and is coming off a submission win against Brian Foster at PFL 1 in June of last year and this marked his first stoppage victory since 2007.
– Paul Daley is tied with Ben Saunders and Brent Weedman for the 5th most wins (6) in Bellator welterweight division history (Andrey Koreshkov and Douglas Lima #1 with 10).
– Daley is tied with Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Page for the 2nd most TKO/KO wins (5) in Bellator welterweight division history (Douglas Lima #1, 7).
– Aaron Pico has won back to back fights by knockout after losing his pro debut against Zach Freeman 11 months ago.
– Lee Morrison enters his Bellator debut riding a four fight winning streak and all of those wins have come by stoppage.
– Cheick Kongo has the most wins (9) in Bellator heavyweight division history (Cole Konrad #2, 7).
– Javy Ayala owns the 2nd fastest victory in Bellator heavyweight division history with his 16-second win against Sergei Kharitnov at Bellator 163 (Eddie Sanchez #1 with his 10-second win against Jay White at Bellator 7).
– Ayala is tied with Vitaly Minakov for the most TKO/KO wins (4) in Bellator heavyweight division history.
– Carrington Banks has gone 3-0 in Bellator and all of his wins in the promotion have come by decision.
– Adam Piccolotti has dropped back to back fights after starting 5-0 in Bellator.
My Bellator 199 Picks: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Paul Daley, Aaron Pico, Javy Ayala, and Carrington Banks.