Bellator 191: “McDonald vs. Ligier” takes place Fri., Dec. 15, 2017 at Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England. The card will feature the debut of a hard hitting former UFC Bantamweight who left their fold still ranked in the top 10. He could easily find himself entering the contender’s picture in Bellator if he’s able to impress in his first fight under Scott Coker.
Let’s break it down:
135 lbs.: Michael McDonald (17-4) vs. Peter Ligier (8-1-1)
Michael McDonald was on the path to contending for a world title in UFC with an overall record of 17-4 in the Bantamweight division. He’s a proven finisher with nine wins by knockout and six by submission. Unfortunately after knocking out former WEC champion Miguel Torres things began to turn sour for McDonald. Though he maintained his top 10 status with wins over Brad Pickett and Masanori Kanehara, he also slid backward with losses to Urijah Faber and John Lineker. After the latter fight “Mayday” McDonald complained he was dead broke and that UFC was dishonest in their dealings with him, which doesn’t make it at all surprising he would sign with Bellator.
“BadAzz” Peter Ligier is also looking to make his Bellator debut and may (fairly) feel overshadowed by the hype behind McDonald. He holds two knockouts and three submissions in his eight finishes and is unbeaten in five straight fights. Knocking off a former UFC contender would be a huge feather in his cap and would instantly put him on the map outside of Europe, which is where the Frenchman has been plying his trade for his whole career to date.
Bellator tends to be clever in their match-ups for debuting fighters with recognizable names. This occasionally backfires but more often than not works out in their favor. Ligier gives up two inches in height at 5’6”, but more importantly he gives up the experience edge compared to the world class fighters McDonald has been facing in 20+ fights: Brad Pickett, Urijah Faber, Masanori Kanehara, the list goes on. While Ligier shows potential as a proven finisher, McDonald has already proved it with nine knockouts and six submissions, ending just over 70% of his fights.
Final prediction: Michael McDonald makes a successful debut via first round TKO
125 lbs.: Valerie Letourneau (8-6) vs. Kate Jackson (9-2)
Earlier this year Valerie Letourneau was scheduled to face Emily Ducote in her Bellator debut, but an unfortunately timed injury derailed those plans. Better late than never, the former No. 1 contender who took Joanna Champion to a decision in a grueling war will finally get a chance to prove herself at a “comfortable” weight instead of having to make the equally grueling cut to 115. We’re all waiting to see if the reinvented Letourneau can return to her old winning ways.
The Ducote fight was not a pushover bout for Letourneau though and neither is Kate Jackson. Jackson won her first Bellator fight with brutal kicks that destroyed Colleen Schneider’s knee and instantly made her a fighter to be feared. 55% of her wins (five out of nine) come by KO/TKO. For Letourneau it’s much the same story though as 50% of her wins (four out of eight) come the same way. Perhaps Letourneau would like to avoid a kickboxing match and take this one to the ground. Then again she took the best shots Jędrzejczyk could throw and kept coming back for more so it’s hard to think she won’t impose her will as the taller (5’7” to 5’6”) and likely stronger fighter. Jackson hails from Cornwall though so the English crowd will be on her side.
Final prediction: Valerie Letourneau takes a hard fought split decision win
145 lbs.: Lewis Monarch (9-2) vs. Jeremy Petley (11-8-1)
Even though Monarch has lost two of his last three coming into his Bellator debut, that’s a far sight better than Petley, who lost four of his last five UNTIL he made a successful debut at Bellator 179. Monarch is a monster for this weight class at 5’11”, while Petley is 5’5” with a little generosity from the one doing the measurements. If size meant success then George Roop would have been the greatest Bantamweight of all time, but we know how that story goes. Nevertheless I see more upside in a fighter who has won 81% of his fights than a man who has lost 40% of his.
Final prediction: Lewis Monarch wins with his favorite submission — the armbar
265 lbs.: James Thompson (20-16, 1 NC) vs. Philip De Fries (13-6, 1 NC)
“The Colossus” James Thompson should be better than he is. From 2011-14 he ran off an impressive unbeaten streak of six fights including his Bellator debut, and in the process he went from a .500 fighter to a potential Heavyweight contender. Following that success he promptly went on a backslide and got TKO’d by Bobby Lashley and Tsuyoshi Kosaka. That’s the story of Thompson’s career — long streaks of greatness matched by long ones of failure. He’s built like a brick house so when he wins (11 knockouts, seven subs) he looks fantastic and when he loses (13 knockouts, two subs) it’s equally epic.
The story on Philip De Fries would be the same if he could ever PUT a streak together, but he seems to trade a win for a loss in every single fight. A five fight stint in UFC saw him go 2-3 and find his way out the door in 2013 after being finished by Matt Mitrione. Since then he’s plied his trade anywhere for anyone who would have him beating no-names and little known fighters. He’s a pretty big boy at 6’4” 240+ pounds, but that’s nothing compared to the 6’5” Thompson who weighs 290+ BEFORE he cuts to the Heavyweight limit. In a battle of two middling Heavyweights not worthy of being Grand Prix alternates I’ll go with De Fries for two reasons — he’s younger (31 vs. 38) and he’s been knockout out less times (five) so his chin may hold out longer.
Final prediction: Phil De Fries takes a slobberknocker bout by knockout in R3
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 191 tomorrow with Spike TV fights starting at 9:00 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.