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Bellator 251 predictions, preview for ‘Manhoef vs Anderson’

Corey Anderson
Corey Anderson

Bellator 251: “Manhoef vs. Anderson” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. tomorrow evening (Thurs., Nov. 5, 2020), airing on CBS Sports Network. The main event could go to “Overtime” unless his veteran opponent shows “No Mercy” in the cage.

Let’s break it down:

205 lbs.: Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1, 2 NC) vs. Corey Anderson (13-5)

It will be easy for some observers to count out Melvin Manhoef just because he’s 44 years old. With an astounding 90.6 percent of his wins (29 of 32) coming by knockout, though, that would be a big mistake. Speed may diminish, footwork may falter, cardio may wither into dust, but punching power is often the last thing to go. Manhoef has the added benefit of not having to cut to Middleweight any more, so he can retain all of his muscle mass with a comfortable weight cut. At 5’8” with a 71-inch reach, he always has and always will be chiseled from granite.

With all of that said, the lean in the predictions still has to go to “Overtime” Corey Anderson. He is more than one decade younger at 31, and his advantages in size (6’3”) and reach (79”) are as massive as Manhoef’s biceps. The only person to knock him out in his last five fights was Jan Blachowicz, currently the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 205-pound champion, so while we know his chin can be cracked it’s going to take a Light Heavyweight close to his height and reach to touch it. Unless Anderson makes the mental mistake of clinching with a kickboxer, he shouldn’t need to worry about Manhoef’s power or his knee strikes. He’ll show Manhoef “No Mercy.”

Final prediction: Corey Anderson via first round knockout

265 lbs.: Tyrell Fortune (8-1) vs. Said Sowma (6-1)

Speaking of knockout power, the Heavyweight clash on this card features two men who’d be equally pleased to dispatch the fight in less than the allotted time. In fact, whenever Tyrell Fortune has gotten the technical knockout (62.5 percent of his wins), it’s been in either the first or second round. His opponent has scored the knockout in 50 percent of his wins, but twice he’s been to the third round to do so. He’s affiliated with American Top Team and that’s a plus, but he’s a short and stocky big man at 5’11.” At 6’2,” Fortune is built like a football player who hits like a Mack truck. Given the higher level of competition he’s faced and the fact this is Sowma’s Bellator debut, an upset is highly unlikely (but not impossible).

Final prediction: Tyrell Fortune via second round technical knockout

185 lbs.: Austin Vanderford (9-0) vs. Vinicius de Jesus (7-2)

If you’re still calling him “Mr. Paige Van Zant” at this point, Austin Vanderford just finds it funny. He’s right to be amused since a lot of those people were trying to get under his skin, but at an undefeated 9-0, he’s clearly not fazed by much. He’s got a perfect split between knockouts, submissions and decisions (three each) so “well rounded” is an understatement. “The Brazilian Bad Boy” Vinicius de Jesus is equally well rounded, but comes in off a loss to Jaleel Willis in his last fight (a five rounder no less) just a few months ago. Is it smart to try to bounce back so fast off a loss? Nope.

Final prediction: Austin Vanderford by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Derek Anderson (16-3) vs. Killys Mota (12-1)

Welterweight is a better division for “Barbaric” Derek Anderson. As good as he is, he was just too big at 6’ to regularly make the cut to 155 pounds. It was a mighty struggle and one that he did not win on occasion, and you don’t want to be losing on the scale before you even step inside the cage. Killys Mota surprised a few people with his win over Mandel Nallo last year, but now that he’s made his name in Bellator he can’t afford to lose it in his main card debut. With six knockouts and four submissions accounting for 83 percent of his wins, he’s a proven finisher; Anderson lags slightly behind at 69 percent (five knockouts, six submissions). It’s easily the most “coin flip” fight of this entire card.

Final prediction: Killys Mota via split decision

That’s a wrap! will deliver coverage of Bellator 251 tomorrow evening on CBS Sports Network. 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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