For the first time since October 2014, Bellator will be holding events on back-to-back weeks. Last week, the organization put on the most-watched show in its history, as Kimbo Slice defeated Ken Shamrock in an absurdly entertaining fight and event. Scott Coker and company will be hoping that some of the audience from last week carries over to Bellator 139. The event is headlined by Alexander Volkov and Cheick Kongo, who have almost by default become the top two heavyweights in the organization. With champion Vitaly Minakov on the shelf due to injuries and pursuing other interests, Volkov and Kongo could very well be fighting for an interim title at this point. The main card of Bellator 139 also features former Bellator title challenger David Rickels taking on former UFC title challenger John Alessio in a lightweight bout. Each man picked up a win in their last outing for Bellator, and another here would move them into position for a big step up in the lightweight division. And, the customary fun fight of this Bellator card is in the middleweight division, as Joe Schilling looks to move his record in the promotion back above .500 when he faces former HEAT middleweight champion Hisaki Kato. All of Kato’s bouts have ended by T/KO in the first or second round, and with Schilling standing across the cage from him, that trend is likely to continue. The opening bout on the main card features a former Bellator champion much as it did last week. This time, featherweight Pat Curran looks to bounce back from two consecutive losses against Patricio Freire and Daniel Weichel, as he takes on Emmanuel Sanchez. Sanchez has won his first two bouts in Bellator, and a victory over Curran could have him break into the quartet of top fighters the promotion has at 145. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for the Bellator 139 main card today at Several Bookmakers. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Volkov still isn’t a stalwart wrestler, but he has solid skills everywhere else in his game, and has learned to make opponents pay for takedown attempts. He’ll likely have to make that a big part of his gameplan against Kongo, as I don’t expect to see the Frenchman hanging out at range for too long in this one. I expect that Kongo can get some takedowns early, but the key to this fight will be how effective his wrestling can be later in the bout. I’m guessing it gets harder and harder for him, and Volkov wins the latter two rounds to take a decision if he doesn’t finish Kongo. David Rickels is a bigger favorite over John Alessio here than their skill gap indicates. Many seem to think that Alessio is shot as a fighter, but over the past five years he’s only lost to extremely strong grapplers and been knocked out by Siyar Bahadurzada. I’m just not sure how easily Rickels will be able to implement any gameplan in this fight, as it should be competitive everywhere. Alessio is a decent wrestler in his own right, and may have a slight technical advantage on the feet here as well, so if the line gets crazy, I may be taking a shot on the veteran here. Pat Curran is capable of losing any fight he’s in simply due to not showing up and fighting, but that mostly happens against far more dangerous fighters than Emmanuel Sanchez. Sanchez might give Curran a bit of trouble with his volume and aggression in this fight, but the disparity in talent should be more than enough to account for that. Sanchez is at his best when he’s grappling, but Curran has always been underrated in that department and he generally seems more engaged in fights when he’s grappling anyways, so I don’t see that as an avenue for victory. Like Straus and Chandler, I think this is smart matchmaking on Bellator’s part, and Curran should look good here. I know that Bellator and fans really want Joe Schilling to be successful in MMA, but I’m just not sure how realistic that is. He’s obviously a dangerous striker, but he’s so limited in the grappling against anyone who can wrestle even a little bit. Kato has some good power on the feet as a southpaw, but he’s pretty poor defensively and doesn’t seem to have great cardio if he’s forced to grapple, and that’s exactly what he’ll need to do in this fight. If Schilling is smarter in this fight than last time out, he should be able to make Kato pay once he gets tired and score a stoppage, but I’m not counting on Schilling as more than a 2.5 to 1 favorite in MMA ever.