After a brief lull in MMA, things start to pick up this weekend as Bellator returns with a high profile main event on Friday night (March 31, 2017). Once one of the biggest stars in the sport, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson doesn’t possess the profile that he once had. A prolonged legal battle between Bellator and the UFC kept him relatively inactive over the past couple of years, but his name still carries some cache, as does his current five-fight winning streak. Rampage will look to extend that streak in a rematch against “King” Mo Lawal. The two previously met in the cage back in May 2014, a bout which ended in a controversial decision victory for Jackson in a largely underwhelming contest. Why the rematch was booked is somewhat perplexing, especially since Lawal has been more active in Japan over the past 18 months than the U.S. This card will lead into a busy April for MMA’s second-largest promotion, a month which will hopefully lay the foundation for a summer of big events under the Viacom banner. Joining Rampage and Lawal on this card is former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao, as he moves up to featherweight to take on split decision master Emmanuel Sanchez. Heavyweight veteran Sergei Kharitonov also steps back in the circular cage hoping for a better result than his 16-second TKO loss against Javy Ayala from November. His task this time around will come against UFC veteran Chase Gormley. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for Bellator 175 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out… ——————– Bellator 175: Rampage vs. King Mo 2 MARCH 31, 2017 Allstate Arena | Rosemont, Illinois Main Card – (Spike, 9 p.m. ET) Quinton Jackson +120 Muhammed Lawal -160 Over 2.5 -180 Under 2.5 +140 – Marcos Galvao +170 Emmanuel Sanchez -230 Over 2.5 -230 Under 2.5 +170 – Chase Gormley +200 Sergei Kharitonov -280 Over 1.5 +150 Under 1.5 -190 – Jake Roberts +160 Steve Kozola -210 Over 1.5 -190 Under 1.5 +150 – Lloyd Carter +435 Noad Lahat -705 Over 1.5 -130 Under 1.5 -110 – ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Lawal clearly won the first fight between these two, and since then Rampage has only fought twice, looking listless against Fabio Maldonado and Satoshi Ishii in a pair of decision wins. Lawal, on the other hand, has fought 10 times, going 8-2 with losses only to Phil Davis and a juiced-out-of-his-mind Mirko Cro Cop in Japan. If Lawal even thinks about takedowns in this fight, he can win a fairly straightforward decision against the most bloated version of Rampage we’re likely to have ever seen. I like the idea of an aging fighter moving up in weight rather than cutting more of it, but I’m not sure that will benefit Galvao in this bout. He’s never been a particularly high-paced fighter, and that’s exactly what Sanchez has used to garner so many close decisions thus far in his career. If this turns into a grappling match, I’d still give Galvao the edge, but I don’t think he’s big enough to force this to the ground against a solid defensive wrestler like Sanchez, and that means it will likely be a kickboxing match where I think Sanchez’ pace gives him the edge. I have no reason to trust Kharitonov at this point, even against an opponent who has been stopped in each of his career losses. Gormley doesn’t possess much stopping power himself, but should be able to control this fight in the clinch, and may even be more active as he “dances” around on the outside. I’m not recommending that you put money on a guy who was TKO’d by Dan Charles recently, but if his price is anywhere near what Javy Ayala’s was against Kharitonov, it’s worth a long, long look. Kozolo has looked quite impressive in the limited tape I’ve seen of him, and Roberts lost his last bout against another former wrestler (albeit a more talented one) in Carrington Banks. Also, Roberts is inexplicably not nicknamed “The Snake” copyrights be damned. That’s probably an even bigger strike against him. Carter lost to Miguel Torres… six months ago. The majority of his wins have come against fighters around the .500 mark. This is a clear case of Bellator trying to get Lahat a second Bellator win to help him build some momentum in the division. I find it hard to see it not going according to plan.