Vets Kongo, Warren to Test Contenders at Bellator 161
Get ready MMA betting fans, Cheick Kongo continues his push towards becoming the king of the Bellator heavyweight division at Bellator 161. The 41-year-old does battle with Tony Johnson, a contender coming off of back-to-back wins over Alexander Volkov and Raphael Butler, in the evening's main event.
Johnson isn't the strongest, fastest, or most athletic, but he comes forward like a mack truck and can rock a fighter with his kickboxing and drive hard for takedowns. Mobile enough for his weight, Johnson's upset split-decision win over former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov put him on the radar after a long absence from MMA's center stage.
Kongo, meanwhile, is a feared striker with all of the physical advantages. His age has seen some of his athleticism and reflexes go, but he's still a cut above Johnson, whose best bet is to land a leaping, lunging overhand shot to topple Kongo early.
This is probably a fight to be won on the feet. Kongo is no longer a serious single-punch threat but he does still hit hard and what he does can break down opponents over the stretch of five rounds. He will need to prepare for some hard rushes at the takedown and some haymakers from his 30-year-old opponent, who'll be looking to catch an older fighter cold whenever possible.
Count on Kongo outlanding Johnson in a slow paced fight for a unanimous decision win.
In the co-feature, former Bellator featherweight and Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren meets Sweden's Sirwan Kakai.
Warren, a former NCCA division I wrestler, is a controlling fighter good at advancing ground position and banking rounds. 1-2 in his last three, Warren needs a win in Cedar Park, and will be looking for one against Sirwan Kakai, a multifaceted finisher who, at age 26, sees the best as yet to come and many MMA betting fans believe him.
In Summer 2015, Kakai was spuriously bumped from the UFC roster after a 1-1 tenure during which he showed plenty of promise. A flashy, acrobatic fighter, Kakai has more potential to explode and finish an opponent than does the calm and strategic Warren, who is likely favored for his rock solid ground game but will be punished if he chooses to strike with Kakai, who does best when given space to work and set up attacks.
Can Warren keep on the pressure at age 39? A lapse is all Kakai needs to do what he did in 10 of 14 wins -- score a finish -- burying a Bellator mainstay. Check the sportsbook for current odds.
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