Bellator Milan: “Edwards vs. van Steenis” comes to Allianz Cloud in Milan, Italy, tomorrow afternoon (Sat., Sept. 26, 2020), airing on Channel 5 (United Kingdom) and YouTube (United States). The main card features a slew of Middleweight bouts that could shape the future of the division.
Let’s break it down:
185 lbs.: Fabian Edwards (9-0) vs. Costello van Steenis (12-2)
People generally have good things to say about a fighter when he or she is undefeated, and “The Assassin” Fabian Edwards is no exception. Fighting runs in the family as his brother Leon Edwards is a ranked UFC Welterweight with eight straight wins; in fact, his last loss was to Kamaru Usman before the latter became the champ. As a result, the younger (27) brother has been overshadowed by the older (29) a bit, but he’s getting a huge platform with this main event to show he’s every bit as legit. His portfolio is highly diversified as well — three wins by knockout, three submissions, three decisions. He’s solid in all areas of MMA.
Costello van Steenis was on an excellent run in his own right with six straight victories until he ran into a brick wall named John Salter. With nearly a full year off since that fight it’s hard to believe he hasn’t taken the time to improve on just about every aspect of his game, or at least as much as he can do given the circumstances of 2020. He too has his stocks and bonds in order with four wins by knockout and five submissions, and as we’ve seen before he can wreck prospects like Mike Shipman with nasty elbows at short range. Trying to clinch on the cage to wear him down could be the worst nightmare of any man he faces.
It’s an intriguing fight because the equation is so well balanced on both sides. “The Spaniard” van Steenis (maybe he should fight Juan Archuleta for the rights) is only 28 and stands 6’1” with a 78.5-inch reach, with Edwards having the exact same stature and a slightly longer reach at 79.5 inches. It’s almost too close to call. The one and only difference maker I can find is the cocksure confidence Edwards currently possesses coming from a fighting family and never having tasted the sting of defeat. I wouldn’t call that a good enough reason to place a bet on the main event, but it’s all I’ve got.
Final prediction: Fabian Edwards via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Mike Shipman (13-3) vs. Pietro Penini (9-1-1, 1 NC)
Here we have the aforementioned Shipman, looking to rebound from consecutive losses to van Steenis and Edwards. His opponent Pietro Penini has been trending the exact opposite direction with three straight wins, though two of those were outside Bellator and the one inside was a decision victory over Charlie Ward. It was a solid effort to be sure but nothing that would set the world on fire, and in the second round he took as much damage as he gave. Despite his recent setbacks I still believe “Seabass” Shipman is a man to build around as all of his 13 wins are finishes — eight knockouts, five submissions. He’s been fighting Bellator caliber opponents for four years, while Penini’s just a cup of coffee into his stint.
Final prediction: Mike Shipman via third round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Will Fleury (7-3) vs. Kent Kauppinen (12-5)
If being a F.O.C. (Friend Of Conor) could guarantee you a win, Will Fleury wouldn’t be 2-2 in his last four outings. If being a seasoned veteran with main event experience could guarantee you a win, Kent Kauppinen wouldn’t be 2-3 in his last five. Let’s not mince words: Both of these men need this win badly. They are treading water at Middleweight in an already top heavy division, and the loser could find themselves mucking about on a preliminary card or plying their trade elsewhere. The one thing that hurts Fleury might help him if he went up a weight class — he’s MASSIVE at 6’3” and ripped to the gills in this weight class. Cutting has to be brutal for him and it seems to show in his performances. If Kauppinen can weather an early storm and wait for Fleury to gas, the fight is his.
Final prediction: Kent Kauppinen via unanimous decision
That’s a wrap!
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