Bellator 248: “MVP vs. Houston” comes to Accor Arena in Paris, France tomorrow morning (Sat., Oct. 10, 2020), airing on CBS Sports Network. An unbeaten prospect takes on the “MVP” of the Welterweight division in the main event, and additionally a European Series card is headlined by a Heavyweight rematch.
Let’s break it down:
170 lbs.: Michael Page (17-1) vs. Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC)
After recording knockout wins in three events around the globe last year in short order (Dublin, London and Saitama) from September through December, Michael “Venom” Page had definitely earned some time off. He certainly didn’t plan on being out of action for this long, but the global pandemic ruined the best laid plans of mice and men alike. Happily for Page a bout in Paris means a relatively short flight from home, and given how few people want to travel internationally these days, he may even have most of the plane to himself.
Cage Warriors veteran Ross “The Hitman” Houston will not be circumnavigating the globe either as he only needs to make his way from Inverness, Scotland to Accor Arena. He brings a strong resume to the fight with nary a loss on his record, three wins by submission and five decisions. What’s notable there is he also doesn’t have a single win by knockout. He’s a physically ripped guy at 6’2” and I don’t doubt he has the power, and he’s got Straight Blast Gym training partners so I don’t doubt his ability, but they don’t make strikers like MVP every single day. If I’ve got to choose between the guy with 11 knockouts and the guy with none the choice is crystal clear.
Final prediction: Michael Page via spinning head kick of doom
170 lbs.: Oliver Enkamp (9-2) vs. Emmanuel Dawa (9-3)
Oliver Enkamp has back to back European Series wins, and his first round finishes of Lewis Long and Walter Gahadza are impressive performances. If arenas could be packed to capacity in 2020 then Dawa would be the “local favorite” and I suspect he might even get some momentum off their enthusiasm, but he’s a very streaky fighter who wins two and loses one, and he’s not even been fighting the top competition available in his weight class. I think Enkamp should take this one handily.
Final prediction: Oliver Enkamp via third round rear naked choke
160 lbs.: Ryan Scope (11-3) vs. Alan Omer (23-5)
I’m not sure I’d want the nickname “Big Baby” having lost three out of my last four fights but for Ryan Scope it is what it is. They certainly aren’t making it any easier on Scope by having him fight Alan Omer, on a five fight winning streak dating back to 2016 with the last four all being finishes and the last TWO coming in the first round. Omer wins 35% of his fights (eight of 23) by knockout and 52 percent (12 of 23) by submission. Scope is a little more balanced with 40 percent by both knockout and submission (four of 11) but I don’t think that helps him here.
Final prediction: Alan Omer via first round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Mads Burnell (13-3) vs. Darko Banovic (15-7)
Mads Burnell ripped his way through four straight wins with three submissions in Cage Warriors to make this Bellator MMA card. Banovic has back to back first round technical knockout wins in Austria and England respectively. It’s clearly a style vs. style fight where Burnell will try to drag Banovic to the ground while Banovic will try to keep Burnell at distance and pop him with his hands and feet. Banovic has only been submitted once though and has six submission wins of his own, so it seems like his defense and jiu-jitsu game are up to par.
Final prediction: Darko Banovic via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC) vs. Timothy Johnson (14-6)
If you’re going to hold the first major MMA card in France there’s no better candidate to lead the way than local hero Cheick Kongo. “The Darkness” has represented his home country all around the world dating back to June 2001, which makes it hugely ironic that the 45 year old fighter has never had a sanctioned bout on home soil until now. Although this will be an incredibly emotional moment for Kongo, he can’t afford to get swept up in the moment given the prodigious punching power of his opponent.
Things did not go Timothy Johnson’s way when these fighters first met at Bellator 208. In fact it only took Kongo 68 seconds to send Johnson crashing to the canvas for a knockout win, one of the most impressive of his long and storied career. Johnson has had a career resurgence since then though, finishing both Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione with first round knockouts in back to back fights. Meanwhile, 50 percent of Johnson’s wins (seven of 14) come from the power of the punch, so assuming the same fight will go the same way is a risky prospect.
Being the home country favorite in the main event has never guaranteed a victory in any promotion, as Alessio Sakara has proven on multiple occasions. The good news for Kongo is that he’s got a unique balance of size and strength at 6’4” and 230+ pounds. That makes him a little leaner than a stout Heavyweight, and his massive 82-inch wingspan allows him to crack chins before his opponents can close the gap. As fighters age they lose speed before they lose power, so Kongo doesn’t need to be fast — just accurate. Johnson is only one inch shorter but gives up four-inch in reach, so to win he needs to put Kongo on the cage and wear him down, then land short hard elbows and hands when they break.
Final prediction: Cheick Kongo via second round technical knockout
That’s a wrap!
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