The Three Count: Top Storylines from Bellator 153 Fallout

Andrey KoreshkovJay Primetown takes a look at the three biggest storylines to develop from Bellator 153 in Uncasville, Connecticut. #1 A Star is Born – Andrey Koreshkov entered Friday’s Bellator 153 card as the promotion’s welterweight champion. Despite lopsided victories over Douglas Lima and Adam McDonough in his last two outings, many still doubted Koreshkov’s abilities. It was less than three years ago when then-22 year old Koreshkov was thoroughly dominated by Ben Askren, succumbing to ground and pound in the fourth round. When people had looked back at his accomplishments, the discussion always went back to the Askren fight and how he was dominated when he fought a step up in competition. That’s why Friday’s main event against Hall of Fame-caliber fighter Benson Henderson was so important for Koreshkov. A quality performance would go a long way in rewriting Koreshkov’s narrative. Not only did Koreshkov have a good fight, but he blew away all expectations. “The Spartan” dominated Henderson like the former UFC lightweight champion had never been dominated before. The Russian’s control of the cage and power were evident very early in the fight. What stood out even more was improved takedown defense. Each time Henderson looked to take the fight to the canvas, he was stuffed by the Russian. In most cases, Koreshkov even got his own position to work in an attack on the ground. It was a stunning performance for the Russian which catapults him in my eyes to near the top of the world’s best welterweights. Koreshkov’s combination of technique, size, and strength should make him a long-time champion in Bellator and its next homegrown star. #2 A Task too Big – Benson Henderson is not one to shy away from a challenge. Many fighters have transitioned from the UFC to Bellator taking showcase fights to get their feet wet in the new organization. Henderson is a different kind of fighter and wanted the most difficult fight right out of the gate. In the UFC, Henderson moved up from lightweight to welterweight after he was out of the lightweight title picture. It gave him a fresh start and an opportunity to face new opposition. With that said, physically he’s at a major disadvantage at welterweight. When he faced Brandon Thatch, he had real problems with Thatch’s size and strength. It took him over two rounds to get some offense going and that had more to do with Thatch’s conditioning giving up on him as the fight progressed. In the fight against Koreshkov, Henderson gave up three or four inches in height plus 20+ pounds on fight day. It appeared at the start of the fight that the Russian was two weight classes bigger than Henderson. That simply is too much to overcome against a skilled and conditioned opponent. For as skilled and crafty as Henderson is, in the end physics plays a big part in the results. If Henderson is going to continue to have success in MMA, he needs to move back to lightweight where he’ll see similarly-sized fighters to himself. #3 Can Crusher – There’s no question that Michael “Venom” Page is one of the most entertaining fighters in MMA today. At 10 wins and no defeats with nine finishes, the expectation for Page is to enter the cage and come away with a finish. His flashy style and unorthodox stance are very reminiscent of Anderson Silva. The confidence oozing when he fights is contagious. It’s not of a matter of if he will finish his opponent, it’s just a matter of when and how he does it. In Friday’s fight with Jeremie Holloway, Page pulled a new trick out of his bag forcing his opponent to tap due to a toe lock submission; a true rarity in MMA. The one thing that has been put into question is the caliber of Page’s opponents. The most accomplished fighter he faced was former Strikeforce and UFC welterweight Nah-Shonn Burrell. It’s no surprise that Burrell is the only opponent that Page was unable to finish. Page continues to be matched against inferior competition without much resistance. That should be later this spring when he’s set to face Fernando Gonzalez. The California native is on a five fight winning streaking beating the likes of Karl Amoussou and Gilbert Smith during that run. It’s time for Page to be challenged and work his way towards headlining fight cards. The technique and excitement is certainly there, but he needs to show it can work against better fighters.

Written by Jay Primetown

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