Bellator 155 Breakdown: Rafael Carvalho vs Melvin Manhoef

Rafael CarvalhoThroughout the Bellator calendar, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests in the promotion. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of Bellator 155 as Rafael Carvalho defends his middleweight championship against Melvin Manhoef.   Rafael Carvalho (Record: 12-1, -265 Favorite) The 29 year old middleweight champion is on one of the best runs of form in Bellator. He’s won his last 12 fights with his only loss coming in his professional debut. This is Carvalho’s first title defense since stunning former champion Brandon Halsey with a liver kick in the second round of their fight to take the title. Carvalho is built like a prototypical middleweight. He’s 6’3” with a 78 inch reach. His stature is very similar to UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and top 15 UFC middleweight Thiago Santos. He’s very dangerous at kicking range. He’s finished three of his last five opponents with strikes to the body. Overall, Carvalho is a striker with 10 of his 12 career wins by knockout. His grappling game has improved over time and he is capable of wrestling against striking centric opposition. This was the method he utilized to sneak out a win against Joe Schilling.   Melvin Manhoef (Record: 30-12-1, +225 Underdog) The long time kickboxing and MMA fighter is looking for his first MMA title since he was the Cage Rash Light Heavyweight Champion in 2016. He enters this fight on the back of a first round finish of Hisaki Kato back in November 2015. Prior to that he had been finished by both Joe Schilling and Alexander Schlemenko. Manhoef is one of the great knockout artists in MMA. Of his 30 career wins in the sport, all but two of them have come by knockout. He’s beaten some quality fighters in his career including Mark Hunt and Kazushi Sakuraba. He’s an aggressive striker with heavy hands. His game plan is to go out and finish people. He lives and dies with the knockout. When he lands, he’s a finisher. When he’s unable to get the finish early, he’ll struggle with cardio and eventually succumb to his opponent. At 39 years old, he’s been finished 11 times in his career. Of those 11 losses, four of them have been by knockout and seven of them by submission.   Match-up This should be an action packed fight where fight fans won’t want to blink. Combined these fighters have nearly 40 knockout wins. Look for Manhoef to take the action to Carvalho early. Despite a 6+ inch height and reach disadvantage, Manhoef is the heavier puncher and will look to score the knockout win. Carvalho has been in danger in some of his previous bouts and appears to be a slow starter. There’s certainly a chance that Manhoef could land early, but Carvalho has proven to be pretty resilient and recovers well. Look for Carvalho to take over the fight in the second round and really pour it on once Manhoef tires. The bigger, younger, more conditioned Carvalho is primed for a finish in the second or third round. At 39 years old, Manhoef simply isn’t durable enough to win if he’s unable to finish early.

Written by Jay Primetown

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