For the third consecutive month, Bellator will be running cards on back-to-back weeks, as the company puts on Bellator 157 this Friday. The approach seems to be reverting to something closer to the schedule the organization used to run, and could help develop a more consistent viewer base. Something else that will certainly help is Bellator 157 being headlined by former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson. ‘Rampage’ will be taking on Olympic Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii. ‘Rampage’ has been back and forth between the UFC and Bellator in recent years, but it seems Bellator will remain his home after his most recent sojourn to the Octagon in 2015. Ishii has had decent success in MMA — posting a 14-5-1 record — but failed to galvanize the Japanese MMA fans the way promoters in DREAM and K-1 had hoped. Part of that is due to his style in the ring, which is a far cry from the Japanese judoka whose place he was meant to fill, Hidehiko Yoshida. Bellator 157 also features a bout for the vacant lightweight title, as Michael Chandler and Patricky ‘Pitbull’ vie for the belt left behind by Will Brooks. Chandler has rebounded from three straight losses (two at the hands of Brooks) to win his last two bouts in impressive fashion prior to this fight. ‘Pitbull’ enters this bout on the heels of two wins as well, and has his first opportunity at a Bellator title in his 16th appearance for the promotion. UFC veteran Matt Mitrione makes his Bellator debut on this card as well. He’ll face Carl Seumanutafa, who Rich Chou always seems to call on when he needs a heavyweight to get a win. Mitrione shouldn’t have to worry about any submissions from Seumanutafa’s side in this one, so he’ll be free to let his hands fly. Opening up the main card, Ilima-Lei MacFarlane puts her undefeated record on the line against once-beaten Rebecca Ruth. This will be MacFarlane’s third Bellator appearance, while it marks Ruth’s second. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the main card of Bellator 157 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 9pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: Rampage should be able to get to Ishii’s chin in this one, but if this fight goes wrong for him, it will be his worst nightmare. 15 minutes of being stuck underneath a slow-paced, positional grappler like Ishii is probably his version of hell. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that however, as Ishii’s takedown game in MMA isn’t all the great, and Rampage has always had solid takedown defense. If Michael Chandler stands with Patricky, he’s putting himself in a bit of danger, but even then he should be able to win the fight on activity so long as he avoids a knockout. If he takes it to the ground, he should be able to wear Pitbull down and eventually find a finish. The demise of Chandler was always very heavily overstated, and I think he continues to prove that here. Pitbull is much closer to the Dave Rickelses and Derek Camposes of the world than Eddie Alvarez and Will Brooks. This is the matchup Matt Mitrione would have picked if he could have picked his Bellator debut (and the only reason I don’t think he did is because he probably has no idea who Carl Seumanutafa is). Mitrione is the faster, longer, more powerful, and more varied striker of the two, and this will be a striking match. The only reason the line isn’t bigger: heavyweights. Rebecca Ruth’s only pro loss was a split decision against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, who it turns out is pretty decent. That result on its own gives me more confidence in Ruth than any of MacFarlane’s wins over her inexperienced, limited opponents. I won’t be betting this one, but if the line flips, Ruth will be the play.