Bellator 265: “Kongo vs Kharitonov” is set to air TONIGHT (Fri., Aug. 20, 2021) from inside Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which will feature a Heavyweight fight between Cheick Kongo taking on Sergei Kharitonov. In the co-main event, Logan Stories will take on Dante Schiro in a Welterweight affair.
265 lbs.: Cheick Kongo vs. Sergei Kharitonov
Bellator’s Heavyweight division recently crowned a interim title holder in Valentin Moldavski while the current champion, Ryan Bader, is busy taking part in the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. That gives other contenders the chance to prove their worth in the meantime. Among the top ones is none other than Cheick Kongo, the longtime veteran who is currently ranked No. 3 in the division, Kongo is coming off a loss to the aforementioned Timothy Johnson, which snapped his eight fight win streak. He did tussle with Bader for the strap but the fight ended in a No Contest (NC) due to an accidental eye poke. Now, the former UFC big man is looking to fight his way back with a win over Kharitonov. A two-decade veteran of the sport, Kharitonov has been around the block a few times, competing all over the world against the best PRIDE FC, M-1 and Strikeforce had to offer. He is currently 3-3-1 inside the Bellator cage, but his last two fights — both knockout wins — came outside of the company. He returns in hopes of earning a Top 10 spot, and a win over Kongo will surely get him there. Kharitonov may not be the world beater he once was, but he can still crack. In fact, his last four wins have come by way of knockout, including one over Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson. It will clearly be a standup battle because neither big man is keen on going to the ground. There isn’t much to dissect in that area, so it will all come down to who gets the clean shot. Kongo is a bit more cautious while Kharitonov is usually the aggressor. And that, obviously, has both it’s advantages and disadvantages.
Final prediction: Kongo via third round knockout
135 lbs.: Keith Lee vs. Jornel Lugo
Keith Lee started his Bellator career off with two straight wins before running into Raufeon Stots at Bellator 253. The younger brother of UFC standout Kevin Lee, Keith isn’t ranked in the Top 10 yet at Bantamweight, a division stacked with sharks. His opponent, Lugo, has the same experience fighting inside the Bellator cage with just two fights, so it’s a fairly even fight when it comes to the experience factor. Undefeated at 6-0, Lugo has impressed enough to earn the No. 8 spot. A win over Lee may help him go up a spot, but he still has a long way to go before he gets into the Top 5. For Lee, handing Lugo his first loss is a sure-fire way to get the rankings panelist’s attention. Both men started their careers off around the same time and are only separated by one year in age, Lugo is 25 while lee is 24. It’s a battle of two young contenders trying to cause some waves in the 135-pound pool that could steal the show.
Final prediction: Lugo via split decision
170 lbs.: Logan Storley vs. Dante Schiro
With the promotion crowning a new champion in the 170-pound division in the form of Yaroslav Amosov, the door is open for the Top 5 to make a case for a shot at the title. Storely is very familiar with Amosov, going the distance with him at Bellator 252, ultimately losing a razor-thin split decision to the new champion. While there are no moral victories in MMA, it has to give “The Storm” confidence that he hung tough with the undefeated title holder and knows what changes to make should a rematch present itself. Beating Schiro, though, likely won’t get him there. Winner of two straight, Schiro will be making his Bellator debut against the No. 5 ranked fighter in the land. Personally, I would have preferred to see Storley take on someone like Neiman Gracie or Jason Jackson. This is a high risk, low reward fight for Storley, who is expected to take out the Bellator debutant. A win probably won’t get him anywhere in the rankings while a loss sets him back tremendously. Let’s just hope the risk pays off.
Final prediction: Storley via second round TKO
265 lbs.: Marcelo Golm vs Billy Swanson
Golm will be making his Bellator debut against another newcomer in Billy Swanson. Golm was supposed to face Kelvin Tiller before Tiller pulled out of the fight a few days from the show for undisclosed reasons. A product of Team Nogueira and American Top Team (ATT), Golm didn’t have much luck inside the UFC’s Octagon, going just 1-3 after starting his combat career 5-0. After his release, he went on to win his next two fights before Scott Coker and Co. came calling. Swanson, meanwhile, has only been fighting professionally for three years and has just five fights under his belt. With Heavyweights, the one-punch homerun shot is always there, but I just don’t see Swanson — who is coming in on just a few days notice — pulling off the upset here. Golm will be too much, too soon for Swanson, who will at least get one more fight with the promotion for doing them a solid.
Final prediction: Golm via first round knockout
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