Friday night, MMA action returns to Spike TV with Bellator 162. Headlined by a big middleweight bout and supported by a heavyweight contest in the co-feature, the card has good name recognition and some great fights.
In the main event, former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko is set to take on UFC veteran Kendall Grove in a high-stakes matchup. For the winner, an opportunity at the 185-pound title may be on the horizon.
Also on the card are names such as Bobby Lashley, Hisaki Kato, Ryan Couture and Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson, Jr., among others. Overall, it should be an entertaining night of fights. With that, let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions.
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Kendall Grove
The main event holds two longtime members of the MMA community in the same cage, as Russian legend Alexander Shlemenko takes on UFC vet and journeyman Kendall Grove. Grove is the much taller fighter of the two and will need to use distance to stay out of the wheelhouse of the Russian. He has good submissions as well, but I don’t think he will be getting Shlemenko to the mat easily. Shlemenko owns the power edge, which will allow him to check the chin of the Hawaiian. When it’s all said and done, I like Shlemenko’s chances much better here, who scores a stoppage to jump into the title hunt again.
Bobby Lashley vs. Josh Appelt
Heavyweights occupy the co-main event, as pro wrestling star and MMA veterean Bobby Lashley looks to continue his dominant Bellator run when he takes on Josh Appelt. Lashley is stronger, faster and a better wrestler than Appelt, which means he will probably impose his game plan on Appelt. Appelt can outlast a questionable gas tank on Lashley, but I don’t think he makes it that far. Lashley finishes Appelt with ground-and-pound or a submission.
Hisaki Kato vs. AJ Matthews
Bangers are set to met in the middleweight division next, as Japanese star Hisaki Kato takes on Bellator staple AJ Matthews. Both Matthews and Kato like to stand on the feet and bang it out. Unfortunately for Matthews, Kato does a better job at it. Kato has KO’d Joe Schilling, one of the best kickboxers in the world. Matthews can try to ground Kato, but I think the Japanese fighter scores another highlight reel win here.
Goiti Yamauichi vs. Ryan Couture
Lightweights will kick off the main card, as Ryan Couture, son of Randy, takes on Brazilian stud Goiti Yamauichi. Couture is a wrestler that has some boxing skills. He will want to stick and move with the Brazilian, as well as mix in some takedowns. Yamauichi is a little more diverse on the feet, so he could engage in a striking battle. That said, he also has a slick grappling game and strong submissions. This looks like a set up win for Couture, but I will go with Yamauichi for the victory.
Gilbert Smith vs. Ricky Rainey
Striker will meet grappler in the next bout in the welterweight division, as Ricky Rainey will take on UFC veteran Gilbert Smith. Rainey is a boxer who will need to keep this fight standing. He is technical and quick, so he will look to pepper Smith from the outside. Smith is a physical brute, possessing great power that he uses to achieve takedowns. He will do that, grounding Rainey and pounding him en route to victory.
Kevin Ferguson Jr. vs. Rick Bing
The son of Kimbo Slice will finally make his Bellator debut in the welterweight division, as he meets up with fellow pro debutant Rick Bing. Not much is known about Bing, other than the fact that he is 0-2 as an amateur. Ferguson was 1-0 as an amateur, winning that bout by knockout. He likes to bang on the feet, much like his daddy. Bellator is setting him up with a welcome fight that he should easily win, which happens via violent knockout.
Steve Garcia Jr. vs. Ronnie Lawrence
Bantamweight prospects will square off next, as 3-0 Ronnie Lawrence takes on 6-1 Bellator staple Steve Garcia Jr. Garcia is a Greg Jackson protege who is coming off his first career pro loss. It was a split decision, that reversed an impressive run where he was knocking people out left and right. He will want to fight on the feet, which will be fine with Lawrence, who has three knockouts to his name. On paper this is close, but I think Garcia takes this pretty easily.
Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blencowe
Two of Bellator’s top female featherweights will meet in the next bout, as Canadian powerhouse Julia Budd takes on Australian boxer Arlene Blencowe. Budd is a physical specimen whose power is only matched by Cris Cyborg in terms of physical strength. He is a good ground-and-pound fighter, which would be smart in this fight. Blencowe is a standup fighter who will need to sprawl-and-brawl with Budd, as a ground battle would be disadvantageous. Budd has a stylistic advantage, which is why she will win this bout.
Chase Gormley vs. Bobby Brents
The big boys will meet in the heavyweight division next, as UFC veteran Chase Gormley takes on journeyman Bobby Brents. Gormley is a brawler who will try to goad Brents into a sloppy, power strike affair. Brents will have no problem with that, as he is known for his knockout power and his willingness to step toe-to-toe with his opponents. This should be fun while it lasts, but I will take Brents in a mild upset here.
Erik Anders vs. Brian White
Middleweights will go to battle next, as 5-0 Erik Anders takes on 6-4 Brian White. White is a finisher, but has not taken on much competition. When he has, he’s fallen easily. Anders hasn’t taken on the top competition himself either, but he’s been successful in the fights he’s had. He’s a finisher himself, so I will take him to put away White before the judges can be consulted.
Dan Charles vs. Virgil Zwicker
A heavyweight bout makes the prelim card next, as longtime vet Virgil Zwicker takes on Bellator staple Dan Charles. Charles has been solid in his time with Bellator, earning some good stoppages and taking on some of the best competition the company has to offer. He can play the spoiler here against Zwicker, a traveled vet who has fought for Strikeforce and is a very tough customer. He will be more than willing to strike with Charles, as he can bang himself. This will be a barn burner, but I think that Zwicker scores the win over Charles.
Tyler Hill vs. Wade Johnson
The welterweights are set to square off in an important prospect’s bout next, as 6-0 Tyler Hill meets up with 10-1 Wade Johnson. Hill is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. He is a finisher that has good submissions and knockouts on his record. Johnson has finished most of his wins by knockout, meaning he will want to keep Hill standing up. In what should be a good battle, I think Johnson outworks Hill to a fun victory.
Jonathan Burdine vs. James Wallace
Next up are the lightweights, as 6-5 Jonathan Burdine meets up with 3-1 James Wallace. Burdine is a submission fighter who has a three-fight winning streak on his plate. He takes on Wallace, who is similarly a grappler, which could make this a chess match on the mat or a sloppy standup affair. Thisi s a coin toss bout, but I will take Burdine to win this bout.
Jaleel Willis vs. Omar Johnson
A pair of 6-0 prospects will meet up in a 160-pound catchweight bout, as Tennessee’s Jaleel Willis meets up with Alabama’s Omar Johnson. Johnson is a knockout artist with a good boxing base, which means he will want to stand with Willis. Willis will more than likely be more than happy to stand with Johnson, as most of his wins are by knockout, including a WSOF victory in his most recent bout. In what should be a slugfest, I will take Johnson by a potential finish or fun decision.
Chad Cook vs. Grady Hurley
Light heavyweights are set to go next, as 10-11 Chad Cook takes on 12-1 Grady Hurley. Hurley is a finisher and has made a career of besting lowly competition. Cook is likely the bigger of the two fighters, but is one of those lowly competitors that Hurley has feasted on. Hurley scores the victory but some sort of finish.
Mike Wessel vs. Frank Tate
The heavyweights will bang next, as UFC veteran Mike Wessel looks to hand 4-1 Frank Tate his second career loss as a pro. Wessel brings a wealth of experience to the cage, though he’s also brought an aura of inconsistency. He’s beaten some good fighters, while falling to others. Tate is a knockout fighter that has not lost since his 2014 pro debut. He’s fought low-experience fighters in his time, but his power cannot be denied. This should be a sloppy, power brawl, but when it’s all said and done, I think Wessel takes the victory.