Bellator Fighting Championships will head to "The Sooner State" this Thursday night (Jan. 24, 2013) at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
The main card will air live on Spike TV on fight night, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
The headlining bout of Bellator 86 will be a welterweight title fight between champion Ben Askren and challenger Karl Amoussou. Neither of these guys have had much nice to say to each other ever since Amoussou won the season six welterweight tournament and promised to dethrone Askren and "bring some excitement back to the division." This should be a good grudge match.
Our complete Bellator 86 preview and predictions are posted below:
170 lb. title: Ben Askren (10-0) vs. Karl Amoussou (16-4-2)
Ben Askren has been one of Bellator's standout performers ever since he stepped into the cage, grappling his way to the top of the season two welterweight tournament and then wrestling the title away from Lyman Good. He has looked solid since claiming the top spot, defeating Jay Hieron in a close decision and then dominating Douglas Lima to defend a title twice for the first time in Bellator history.
Karl Amoussou originally signed with Bellator to compete as a middleweight, but after being upset in a razor thin decision against Sam Alvey, he decided to make the drop and cut down to 170 pounds. The results have spoken for themselves as "Psycho" destroyed Chris Lozano, eeked out a decision over David Rickels and then destroyed Bryan Baker inside a minute to earn his shot at the belt.
This will be a battle between Askren's Olympic caliber wrestling and Amoussou's well-rounded striking, submissions and judo attack. Askren will be trying to neutralize the Frenchman with his offensive wrestling pressure, wear him out and get him tired. Amoussou has a track record of slowing down drastically after the first round so if Askren can survive the opening five minutes, it should be smooth sailing from there. If Amoussou can't get that early finish, look for Askren to get his first legitimate stoppage in the later rounds as Amoussou fades.
Final Prediction: Ben Askren via submission in round three
205 lbs.: Muhammed Lawal (8-1) 1 no contest vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala (16-7)
"King Mo" Lawal quickly rose to the top in Strikeforce, ending Gegard Mousasi's reign as champion, but after losing his belt to Rafael Cavalcante, he defeated Roger Gracie and Lorenz Larkin, sending both opponents to the middleweight division, although he would have the Larkin win overturned after his positive test for performance enhancers. Lawal has had a tumultuous last year, but is finally healthy and looking for a fresh start in Bellator.
Przemyslaw Mysiala or "Cole Slaw" as Lawal calls him, is a fighter who lives and dies by the sword. In 23 career fights, he's only ever gone to a decision once, most recently losing via first round TKO to Jason Jones at the BAMMA 9 event last March.
In all honesty, Lawal should roll here pretty easily. He's one of the better light heavyweights in the world and unless he comes out extremely rusty and slow, look for him to either knock Mysiala out on the feet, or ragdoll toss him to the ground with his world class wrestling skills and put him away with punches on the ground.
Final Prediction: Muhammed Lawal via knockout in round one
170 lbs.: Douglas Lima (22-5) vs. Michail Tsarev (24-3)
Douglas Lima looked phenomenal during his run in the season five welterweight tournament. He blitzed through Steve Carl, Chris Lozano and even Ben Saunders to earn a title shot, but had no answer for Ben Askren's wrestling en route to a dominant five round decision loss. Now, he's hoping to build from that experience and return with a vengeance.
Michael Tsarev looked solid in the season seven welterweight tournament, winning his quarterfinal bout relatively easily via submission and was giving former champion Lyman Good a real run for his money in the semifinals before an eye poke ruined his night as Tsarev looked to the referee for help, taking his eyes off of Good and paid for it with his consciousness.
Both fighters have tight ground games and Tsarev's stand-up isn't that bad, but overall, Lima is just the more well-rounded fighter here. He has all the tools (except pure wrestling), has more power in his hands and also has a longer reach. Look for him to try to just keep it standing and pick Tsarev apart from distance. Tsarev's best bet is to try to make this one ugly, but it probably won't happen.
Final Prediction: Douglas Lima via decision
170 lbs.: Ben Saunders (14-5-2) vs. Koffi Adzitso (18-9)
Ben Saunders has been one of Bellator's most exciting welterweight signings, slashing and smashing his opponents with his vicious muay thai skills. He advanced to the finals of his first tournament, losing to Lima and was defeated in the semifinals of the season six tournament by Bryan Baker. He's hoping his third tournament will be the charm as he's had considerable time to rest and relax.
Koffi Adzitso is a fighter that never was able to put it all together until recently. After starting off his career 13-8, he raised his game a notch, knocking off UFC veteran Kevin Burns, The Ultimate Fighter's Brandon Melendez and most recently Bellator season six welterweight tournament fighter Chris Cisneros to earn a shot in this tournament. "The Lion King" will be hoping to make a big splash by knocking off one of the favorites in the quarterfinals.
Saunders is one of the favorites for a reason. Look for him to try to utilize is length and put Adzitso in the clinch, blasting away with his ferocious knees whenever the opportunity presents itself. Adzitso will try to create a tiny bit of separation and work his punches in the clinch, but Saunders has been pretty relentless in the first round of Bellator tournaments and I doubt he gets denied here.
Final Prediction: Ben Saunders via TKO in round one
170 lbs.: Marius Zaromskis (19-7) 1 no contest vs. Brent Weedman (20-8-1)
Marius Zaromskis has long been considered one of the most dangerous strikers in the welterweight division, capable of knocking out opponents with his vicious head kicks or taking fighters out with spinning back fists or even "rolling thunder somersault kicks." The "Whitemare" advanced to the semifinals of the season seven tournament but was knocked out by eventual winner Andrey Koreshkov. He'll be looking to redeem himself here.
Brent Weedman is one of Bellator's most lovable homegrown fighters, rising up from the local Louisville circuit to become a household name. He competed in two welterweight tournaments, putting on tremendous fights but coming up short after losing tough decisions and tried his hand at the lightweight tournament last year, advancing all the way to the finals before losing to Rick Hawn. Now back at 170, he'll be trying to put it all together.
Both Zaromskis and Weedman are competent strikers, although Zaromskis is much more credentialed. While Zaromskis has a more diverse attack, Weedman has the ability to survive absorbing a big strike while we've seen Zaromskis get hurt time and time again when someone lands a good power strike. It's not going to be a cakewalk, but look for Weedman to survive the early aggression from the Lithuanian and land that killshot in the second round. When he has Zaromskis hurt, he won't let him off the hook.
Final Prediction: Brent Weedman via TKO in round two