It would be hard to top the record-setting spectacle and theater of Bellator 138: "Kimbo vs. Shamrock" last weekend in St. Louis, Missouri.
And to Bellator MMA's credit, the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is not saying that Bellator 139: "Kongo vs. Volkov" tomorrow night (June 26, 2015) at Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kan., will eclipse Spike TV's ratings high water mark.
On the plus side, though, Bellator can ride the bump in interest last week into a card with four interesting fights this weekend.
Best of all is the parity in main events, since both feature a Heavyweight over 40 years old and both have two Heavyweight veterans on personal quest for redemption.
Cheick Kongo has won four out of his last six bouts in Bellator, but suffered a disappointing loss to "King Mo" Lawal at Bellator 134. His opponent in the main event, former Heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov, would like to reclaim his spot on the mountain top, but first has to bounce back from a split decision loss to "Hulk" Tony Johnson at Bellator 136.
Supporting the featured fight of the night are three fights to shape the future of three different weight classes.
"The Caveman" David Rickels is dying for a second chance at Michael Chandler, but he has to get past John Alessio first. Pat Curran is gunning for a return to Featherweight title contention against the almost undefeated (10-1) Emmanuel Sanchez. Last, but certainly not least, Joe Schilling will welcome newcomer Hisaki Kato to Bellator's Middleweight class, where he hopes to notch his first stateside win.
Let's break it all down:
265 lbs.: Cheick Kongo (22-10-2) vs. Alexander Volkov (24-5)
If you're looking for future contenders to face Vitaly Minakov for Bellator's Heavyweight belt, these two men would fit the bill, but each will have to earn it the hard way. Kongo certainly has the credentials as a former top UFC heavyweight, and with knockouts in over 50 percent of his wins, you can't doubt his power. Four submissions and six decisions show his versatility, but 10 losses also show his vulnerability.
And at 40, his age is a major factor.
The tall and lanky Volkov is deceptively powerful as well, notching knockouts in 70 percent of his wins, going to a decision in just 20 percent of his victories. With a win over Richard Hale he seemed poised to rule Bellator's heavyweight division as its champion, but Minakov had other ideas.
Beating Blagoi Ivanov in the Season 10 tournament seemed to earn him a rematch, but the aforementioned "Hulk" loss was a set back he has to overcome.
Kongo also lost a title match to Minakov, so both men have something prove, and only one way to get a chance to prove it. Kongo vows he's learned from the mistakes he made against King Mo, training with people of Volkov's size and reach to negate his natural advantage. Volkov proved himself vulnerable to the same thing that flummoxed Kongo against King Mo: takedowns and wrestling. If they both stand and trade as a result it's Volkov's chin that hold up -- he's only been knocked out once.
Final result: Alexander Volkov wins third round technical knockout
155 lbs.: David Rickels (16-3) vs. John Alessio (35-17, 1 NC)
David Rickels had an "evil plan." And having seen the first part of that plan play out in St. Louis last weekend, he now has to hold up his half of the deal. To earn a rematch with Chandler, he'll go toe-to-toe with John Alessio, who only has one win in his last five fights and has been out of action for more than one year since a win at Bellator 119.
Ring rust, anyone?
Rickels is as popular as he is spotty, winning three of his last five, but says he takes his training seriously now. Can the new improved "Caveman" best the aging Canadian veteran in what is basically his hometown?
Final result: David Rickels wins via first round submission
145 lbs.: Pat Curran (20-7) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (10-1)
The once-dominating Featherweight fighter, Curran, has hit a tough skid of late, dropping three of his last four fights. Bellator MMA is not making it any easier on him by matching him up with Sanchez, winner of six straight, including both of his Bellator fights to date.
The surging Sanchez could vault to the upper echelon of a crowded 145-pound division with a win over the former champion, but Curran can prove that at only 27 he hasn't even hit his peak yet.
"Paddy Mike" is a versatile fighter with five knockouts, seven submissions and eight decisions. He'll take opportunities anywhere they come. Sanchez only has one knockout and five submissions. And unless he's changed his gameplan for Curran, it would seem fairly easy for the more experienced Curran to scout. So long as he can stuff the takedowns, be precise with his hands (and they are good) and tire Sanchez, he'll get back on track here.
Final result: Pat Curran wins via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Joe Schilling (2-4) vs. Hisaki Kato (4-1)
It's becoming cliche to point out that Schilling's MMA record is deceptive. However, when you add his kickboxing experience, he's super dangerous in any fight ... something Melvin Manhoef knows all too well. A loss to Rafael Carvalho his last time out slowed his momentum. though, and Kato is a stand-up-bang fighter from Nagoya who wins and loses all his fights the same way (technical knockout). He'll give Schilling a war, but the experienced kickboxer will keep him at range and pick his shots.
Final result: Joe Schilling wins via second round technical knockout
That's a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver live coverage of Bellator 139: "Kongo vs. Volkov" Friday night (June 26, 2015), with the first fight streaming live online at 7 p.m. ET followed by the televised portion of Bellator 139, which airs live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.
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