Bellator 120 Preview for ‘Rampage vs King Mo’ in Southhaven Tomorrow (May 17) on PPV

Rampage JacksonWow, so here we are; Southhaven, Mississippi. It’s the site of the first Bellator PPV after much turbulence. While Eddie Alvarez is out of his trilogy fight with Michael Chandler, thus changing the main event to King Mo vs. Rampage, this card still has plenty of action for fans of all types. With a strange buildup to this fight through the season 10 light heavyweight tournament and TNA wrestling, King Mo (12-3-1) and Rampage Jackson (34-11) are finally going to fight after a year plus of build-up. At nearly 36-years-old, Rampage has seen better days. He’s been fighting for a really long time and his body has been through a lot, but King Mo, despite having nearly one third the amount of fights, has had a toll taken on his body as well. Mo hasn’t looked the same after his staph infection in 2012. His time in Bellator has been up and down. At times, he’s looked like the King Mo of old, taking men down and smashing them with ground and pound, and other times he looks like his head is miles in front of his body, that just can’t keep up. Rampage has actually looked really good since joining Bellator, winning in impressive fashion against Joey Beltran and Christian M’Pumbu. But, that was Joey Beltran and Christian M’Pumbu. You have to think that with all of this buildup, these two are going to be headhunting, but the key to Mo being victorious in this bout is his NCAA Division I wrestling. Rampage has had trouble against strong wrestlers late in his career, and Mo can absolutely take Page down and grind him out, but he’s definitely got a few good sprawls left in him. Jackson claims that he’s in the best shape of his life (like always), and he’s probably the best striker Mo has ever faced, so if Mo puts that hand down and gets cocky, his chance at Emmanuel Newton for a third time could go down the drain fast. This show was supposed to be headlined by Michael Chandler (12-1) and Eddie Alvarez’s trilogy battle for the lightweight championship, but Alvarez pulled out late with an injury and in came lightweight tournament winner Will Brooks (13-1) for the interim lightweight title. Why this is for an interim title, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s so they can move along the tournament process, maybe it’s to put even more traction behind the trilogy fight if Chandler wins here. Champion vs. Champion has a nice ring to it, eh? Chandler has a history of demolishing fighters that are beneath his skill level, and only Eddie Alvarez has ever given him a fight (obviously). He had Eddie in trouble multiple times in their rematch, and I fully expect the trilogy to still go down in the near-future, as Will Brooks, a tough fighter and wrestler, can make this a knock-down, drag-out fight if he closes the distance and locks up Chandler’s formidable strikes, but that’s easier said than done. Chandler can end this fight at any time, either on the feet or by submission. The path to victory is laid by Brooks and his takedowns, and he can’t get sloppy at all, as Chandler is an NCAA Division I wrestler who has developed godly power in his hands. At light heavyweight, we have the closest thing to a Pride matchup in years, as Tito Ortiz (16-11-1) comes out of retirement to fight Bellator’s middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko (50-7). I love this fight, even if it makes no sense. I’m a big fan of Shlemenko and his spinning, unorthodox attacks, underrated ground game and brutal body shots. Tito hasn’t fought in two years, and has only won a single fight, a guillotine win set up by a nice strike against Ryan Bader at UFC 132, in the last 8 years. Still, Tito has a massive size advantage here, and while Tito says size isn’t everything, Shlemenko is a bloated welterweight who walks around at his fighting weight of 185. For him to come up to 205, or 201, whatever he’ll be at, is very interesting. On the feet, Shlemenko holds the edge, and this very well could end via a bodyshot from the Russian to Tito, but if Ortiz can get him down like the old days, he could possibly ground and pound his way to victory. Shlemenko is a great defensive grappler, has a nasty guillotine, and can thwart most attacks, but he also has a tendency to get taken down a few times per fight. If Tito can get him down and hold him there, he has the clear advantage. The odds are stacked against the former UFC light heavyweight champion, even with physicality on his side. Shlemenko is young, hungry, confident, and has about a half-dozen less surgeries on his body. Tito, while seemingly healthy (despite backing out of the Rampage fight six months ago with a neck injury), has a lot of stress on his worn frame. The Bellator season 10 heavyweight finals come to a head, as Alexander Volkov (21-4) takes on grappler Blagoi Ivanov (11-0-1) in an effort to get back his title that he lost to Vitaly Minokov. Russia vs. Bulgaria, the age old tale of striker vs. grappler, we’ve seen it before. With 17 finishes to Volkov’s name, and 9 out of 11 fights finished by Ivanov, this should be a fun fight. Volkov holds the advantage on the feet, and he’ll try to keep it there. He’s finished 16 of his opponents by knockout, while the Bulgarian brute prefers to work the submissions. This is a tough one to pick. The bet to play is a finish, likely first round, as three out of Ivanov’s last four wins were in the first, and the vast majority of Volkov’s wins come in the first round. Ivanov will look to get it to the ground fast, but Volkov has an underrated ground game and can absolutely thwart the Bulgarian. This will be violent, you can be sure of that. Opening the show is human firework show Michael Page (5-0) vs. Ricky Rainey (9-2). If you haven’t seen Page’s freestyle kickboxing style before, go on YouTube now and look him up. I’ll be here when you get back. Alright, cool. You’ve picked up your jaw and saw that Michael Page is like Anderson Silva meets Muhammed Ali in videogame form. He hasn’t faced the best competition, but neither has Rainey. Many say taking Page down is the way to beat him, but in interviews leading up to this fight, he’s acknowledged that, and isn’t worried. He himself has actually shown good takedowns and surprising submission abilities to go with his flashy striking. This fight was put here for a reason, as they want to open the show with a bang, and Page consistently delivers insane highlights with spinning kicks, Superman punches and things I can’t even describe. Rainey is a guy. That doesn’t mean he can’t win if he doesn’t get knocked out moving in, but Page is something special.

Written by Jason Nawara

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