Bellator 130 "Newton vs. Vassell" takes place this Friday night (Oct. 24, 2014) at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas. The televised card is stacked with names familiar to both the hardcore and the casual viewer of Bellator MMA, and the main event features a champion famous for his spinning backfist knockouts.
"The Hardcore Kid" Emanuel Newton returns to the same venue where he originally won the world title back in March, emerging victorious in a closely contested split decision. He followed that up with a spinning backfist knockout of Joey Beltran last month at Bellator 124, the same move Bellator likes to tout that Newton "shocked the world" with when he beat the heavily favored Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal in a Bellator tournament.
Newton returns in a relatively short amount of time, taking a second fight to defend his world title just six months after his last, and Linton Vassell would love to provide a "shock" of his own. The British prospect is undefeated so far in Bellator, and after submitting Virgil Zwicker this summer, he seems more than ready for the challenge. Underneath the main event are three exciting fights including heavyweight wrestler Bobby Lashley and veteran women's MMA fighter Marloes Coenen.
Check out our full preview of the Bellator 130 main card below:
205 lbs.: Emanuel Newton (24-7-1) vs. Linton Vassell (14-3, 1 NC)
Emerging star Linton Vassell has momentum in his favor with a string of nine straight wins dating back to 2010, a run that saw him be crowned the UCMMA light heavyweight champion, defeating former DREAM and Bellator fighter Zelg Galesic in his final bout before plying his trade stateside. Early in his career his heavy hands were his biggest strength, but of late he's been even more deadly via submission, tapping out four of his last six goes (three by rear-naked choke).
Newton is on a six-fight win streak of his own, and is obviously feeling confident given that he took a second title fight on six weeks notice. Even though Newton's spinning backfist is a highlight reel favorite, the numbers actually show that he's a grinder, taking both 50-percent of his wins AND his losses by decision. He's rarely submitted -- only tapping out twice in 32 fights to date, so Vassell will have to do what only Raphael Davis and Mike Van Arsdale could do before him.
Final prediction: Emanuel Newton wins via unanimous decision.
155 lbs.: Dave Jansen (19-2) vs. Rick Hawn (18-3)
Two mainstays of Bellator MMA collide in the co-main event. Rick "Genghis" Hawn has been in so many Bellator tournaments that his other nickname could be "King of the Brackets," cashing checks in seasons six and season nine as the lightweight AND welterweight tournament winner, respectively. Unfortunately, each title shot Hawn earned turned out as a second-round defeat, falling most recently to Douglas Lima in Council Bluffs in a bid to crown a new champ.
For Dave Jansen, the question remains as to whether or not he can cash in his own season seven win of the lightweight tournament. He was originally scheduled to face Michael Chandler last summer and had to pull out due to injury, and in the interim Chandler was dethroned by Eddie Alvarez and the landscape of the weight class completely changed.
The key for Jansen in any fight is his durability, as he has yet to be knocked out OR submitted in 21 fights. Hawn rarely gets caught, but Chandler managed to do it, and Jansen is more of a submission specialist than Chandler: twice as many of his victories come by tap out.
Final prediction: Dave Jansen wins via rear-naked choke submission.
265 lbs.: Bobby Lashley (11-2) vs. Karl Etherington (9-0)
At times, pundits have attempted to use Bobby Lashley's pro wrestling background in WWE and TNA against him, forgetting that he only transitioned to the squared circle after his Olympic wrestling bid ended prematurely. That wrestling background has forged a record of MMA dominance dating back to 2008, though at age 38, he runs the risk of his age catching up to him after a late start in professional fighting.
Lashley benefits from being matched up with a fighter who is actually a year older than him in "The Wrecking Machine" Karl Etherington, though he's finished every opponent in the first round in nine straight bouts. His most visible win came against Jason Fish at Bellator 87, though the overmatched Fish was perhaps more of a "tomato can" than anybody Lashley has ever been accused of fighting.
The 2-4 Fish retired on his stool rather than continue to take a beating.
This fight is essentially about stamina, as Etherington has never seen the second round, and Lashley has never seen a second round that he liked. The muscular Lashley visibly fades in long fights, and we have no idea how two heavyweights nearing their 40s will look if they go long in Mulvane, but the odds are that it could be ugly.
Final prediction: Bobby Lashley wins via first-round knockout.
145 lbs.: Marloes Coenen (21-6) vs. Annalisa Bucci (7-3)
Coenen can rightly be called a legend of women's MMA, becoming a bantamweight champion in Strikeforce before Ronda Rousey even had her first professional bout -- and only after having already competed for years in Japan. Open the doors to the Hall of Fame and she's a first-ballot inductee.
Annalisa Bucci will have a lot to prove going against the 14-year veteran, and though she possesses a decent record at 7-3, her background in muay thai and kickboxing is her biggest asset. Bellator undoubtedly hopes to create a women's division to rival UFC's and Coenen at 145 would be an excellent place for them to start.
Final prediction: Marloes Coenen wins via submission.
That's a wrap!
Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute weigh-in coverage tomorrow night (Thurs., Oct. 23, 2014), as well as extensive Bellator 130 live results and coverage this Friday evening!