Bellator 211: “Sakara vs. Kauppinen” airs later this afternoon (Sat., Dec. 1, 2018) from RDS Arena in Genoa, Italy, featuring a Light Heavyweight main event that is designed to delight the home country fans!
Let’s break it down:
205 lbs.: Alessio Sakara (20-12, 2 NC) vs. Kent Kauppinen (10-4)
Alessio Sakara has won three of his last four fights in Bellator via (technical) knockout. The one fight he lost in that span was also by knockout, so there’s little doubt he lives and dies by the sword. Let’s take that analogy a step further, though — in 34 professional fights he’s only submitted three times and been to decision three times. That’s just under 18 percent of all fights he’s ever had, or to put it another way, you’re only going to see a fight where Sakara doesn’t knockout someone or get knocked out one out of every fight times.
That’s the reason Kent Kauppinen is the perfect opponent for him in the perfect venue for him. Sakara always seems to perform at his best in front of his loyal legion of home country fans in Italy, and Kauppinen is making the short trip over from England and going up from Middleweight just to throw hands with him. Eight of Kauppinen’s 10 wins come by knockout, while the other two are submissions. That makes it highly unlikely Kauppinen will want to try to drag this into the deep water or win by decision, and in fact he’s only had one loss by decision out of the four times he did not get his hand raised.
The size difference is not as great as it initially stands though. Sakara is a muscular Light Heavyweight but he stands exactly 6’ and has a 72” reach. Kauppinen also stands 6.’ After searching a half-dozen mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing websites I can’t find a single one that lists his each, but just looking at his fights online I’d estimate it to be the same as Sakara ... give or take an inch. You could therefore argue that Sakara is a blown up Middleweight, and indeed that’s the weight he fought at for most of his UFC career before he left the promotion. That should not be read as an endorsement of people who weigh more than 200 pounds cutting to 185 (let alone 170), it’s just a realistic assessment of what already happens.
There’s absolutely no reason to think these two men won’t simply fight in a phone booth to put on a show for the fans in Genoa, particularly given this is Bellator’s first show in the city. For all intents and purposes this is the reason it has Sakara on the roster — to headline cards in Italy with stylistically favorable opponents. The fact both men have boxing records make it more obvious than it already is that takedowns aren’t going to happen, although a prop bet on that would probably pay huge. The bottom line though is that this is just a fun fight that means little outside of the venue it’s in on the day it takes place. Neither one of these guys moves up the ladder with a win over the other. They’re both irrelevant to the Light Heavyweight division and the champion Ryan Bader is otherwise occupied anyway.
Final prediction: Alessio Sakara wins by knockout in a first round slobberknocker
265 lbs.: Hesdy Gerges (50-20-1 kickboxing) vs. Domingos Barros (5-0 MMA)
This one is a complete mess to speak about with any kind of authority. On paper Gerges would absolutely without question be the more experienced veteran of combat sports. The fact that he also has 20 losses in 71 fights (28%) and that he’s jumping into a completely different style of fighting puts that experience in question. Barros might be considered a “hot prospect” at 5-0 as a MMA Heavyweight, but he’s averaged just 1.25 fights a year over the span of his pro career and has fought no one you’ve ever heard of before. Honestly, I flipped a coin to decide this one.
Final prediction: Domingos Barros wins via knockout
170 lbs.: Kiefer Crosbie (4-0) vs. Orlando D’Ambrosio (7-3)
Oh how I love predicting fights between people even Joe Rogan hasn’t heard of before. Crosbie has a couple of things going for him — a cool nickname (“Big Daddy”) and an undefeated record in BAMMA until now as a fighter out of SBG Ireland. He’s also facing an opponent who has lost two out of his last three despite having an experience edge. Things haven’t gone so well for SBG Ireland in Bellator (or elsewhere) this year, but this may be their chance to turn it around late in 2018 given Crosbie has finished every single fight and 75 percent of them via knockout.
Final prediction: Kiefer Crosbie wins via first round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Alen Amedovski (7-0) vs. Ibrahim Mane (7-1)
These two are slightly more notable because Amedovski is an undefeated Middleweight with a televised knockout win at Bellator 203. His opponent has never fought for Bellator before but has finished almost 86% of his wins (six of seven) with four knockouts and two submissions. As impressive as that is it doesn’t top Amedovski’s 100 percent finishing rate and all of his wins are first or second round knockouts. The long odds are on a third round.
Final prediction: Alen Amedovski with a first round knockout
155 lbs.: Luca Vitali (11-4) vs. Pedro Carvalho (8-3)
Luca Vitali is also making his Bellator debut on this card, and after a rough start to his career he’s emerging as a factor on the European scene with a five fight win streak. The majority of his wins come by submission (45 percent) or decision (36 percent), which makes it pretty clear to me he believes strongly in his takedowns and his ground game. Carvalho hails from Straight Blast Gym in Dublin, Ireland and is on a three fight win streak, including a close split decision at Bellator 200. With 50 percent of his wins (four of eight) coming by submission he’ll be looking to have a stronger performance here and prove he deserves to be on main cards in the future, but at 5’9” versus 6’0” he’ll be giving up both size and power to the local favorite.
Final prediction: Luca Vitali takes a unanimous decision
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 211 later today with Paramount Network-televised fights starting at 4 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.