Bellator 245: “Davis vs. Machida 2” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., tomorrow night (Fri., Sept. 11, 2020), streaming on DAZN (watch it) and airing on Paramount Network. It’s the renewing of a rivalry between two former champions in what’s sure to be a key bout for the recently revamped Light Heavyweight division.
Let’s break it down:
205 lbs.: Phil Davis (21-5, 1 NC) vs. Lyoto Machida (26-9)
While each man has championship credentials — Phil Davis the former 205-pound kind in Bellator MMA and Lyoto Machida an ex-UFC champion — neither one is in a position to earn a title fight against the current champion just yet. Davis has only lost two fights in his entire Bellator run, but given those losses are to both of the last card’s main eventers (Ryan Bader and Vadim Nemkov), he’s got to earn another match by winning this rematch. Machida only has one loss in Bellator to Gegard Mousasi, but arguably that’s the fight that prompted the now-42-year-old “Dragon” to move back up to Light Heavyweight.
The bad news for Machida isn’t his age. His unorthodox, karate-based striking always has been — and will continue to be — a problem for every opponent he faces until he retires. What’s more telling is that Davis already has a win over him from their respective time in UFC. Unorthodox striking is great until you are flat on your back from a double-leg takedown, and save for the man he can’t beat (Bader), no one in this division is a better MMA wrestler. All Davis needs is one opening to shoot for the waist, drop levels, and yank Machida’s legs out from under him. One well-timed roundhouse kick to the head could foil those plans a la “Sugar” Rashad Evans, but in a three-round fight the cardio and speed favors the younger man.
Final prediction: Phil Davis via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Cat Zingano (10-4) vs. Gabby Holloway (6-5)
You don’t have to think long about this fight to come to a conclusion. After going on an impressive 9-0 run to start her MMA career, losses in four of her next five bouts caused Zingano to roll right from No. 1 contender back to square one in her career. Jumping from UFC to Bellator MMA is an attempt to restart and return to her earlier dominance, and a smaller weight cut certainly suits her at 38 years old. It also means she can pack more muscle onto her 5’6” frame, and with 80 percent of her wins coming by finish (five knockouts plus three submissions) you wouldn’t want her to have stronger legs or arms. Holloway has lost two of her last three, four of her last six, and five or her last eight. Were it not for an upset win over Alexis Dufresne in her last bout, her track record would be abysmal ... and that was three years ago. She’s also giving up height and range at only 5’3.” Need I say more?
Final prediction: Cat Zingano via first round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Ed Ruth (8-2) vs. Taylor Johnson (5-1)
On paper this fight is more evenly matched than the previous prediction, but I don’t expect it to be any less one-sided. Ruth is the most decorated wrestler on this card not named Phil Davis, and he’s added power striking to that mix with 75 percent of his wins coming by form of knockout. After losing an incredibly close three-round war to Yaroslav Amosov this would be the time for Ruth to regroup and show the dominance that made him a “blue chip” signing for Bellator. They don’t call Taylor Johnson “Tombstone” because he likes pizza though. Indeed, 100 percent of his wins are via (technical) knockout and his only loss was a submission on Dana White’s “Contender Series.” Ruth should take a page from his Penn State brethren’s playbook and shoot for the legs repeatedly. His hands are heavy, but a stand up war here is not ideal.
Final prediction: Ed Ruth via split decision
170 lbs.: Raymond Daniels (2-1) vs. Peter Stanonik (5-4)
There are world-class kickboxers turned-MMA fighters, and then there’s “Real Deal” Raymond Daniels. If he hadn’t made such a late start jumping into the sport he’d be a world champion right now. In the words of Helmet & House of Pain, Peter Stanonik is, “Just Another Victim.” Stanonik has only had two fights in the last two years and he lost both. One spinning head kick, back fist or elbow and he’ll be out for the count quick.
Final prediction: Raymond Daniels spins his way to a knockout win
That’s a wrap!
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