Where do we go from here?: Bellator 123

Welcome to a brand new feature here  at #WHOATV called ‘Where do we go from here?’, as we look at the weekend winners’ next options inside the cage.

Featherweight – Patricio Freire def. Pat Curran (c) Decision via (unanimous) (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)

Pitbull and Curran put on another classic on Friday night, as both men yet again proved why they are considered two of the best Featherweights outside of the UFC’s top ten. Although a lot of people expected Curran to grind out a decision, it was Pitbull who took the initiative and pressed the fight. Curran always seemed on the back foot, and Pitbull even managed to wobble him on numerous occasions.

Pitbull was given the decision, and rightly so, however knowing Coker’s style of promoting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Curran was given an immediate rematch, which is something that would be hard to argue against.

There are a few guys in the division who may deserve a future title shot, such as: Bubba Jenkins, Julio Cesar Neves and Goiti Yamauchi, however Coker has stated that all current title shots earned through tournaments will be honoured, thus putting Daniel Weichel next in line.

Weichel (34-8) is currently on a six fight win streak, with three inside the Bellator cage against Scott Cleve, Mike Bessette and Desmond Green. The German fighters is a severe submission specialist, and has the tools to give Pitbull a real test.

Light Heavyweight – Muhammed Lawal def. Dustin Jacoby via TKO (punches) [R2/1:13]

After dismantling Jacoby in dominant fashion, Lawal continues to impress against lower level opposition.

With the top of the Light-Heavyweight division tied up for the time being; Emanuel Newton defending his belt against Joey Beltran and the #1 contender fight between Liam McGeary and Kelly Anundson, King Mo’s future is in question.

The only fight that Lawal seems interested in, besides the title fight, is getting his rematch with Rampage Jackson. There have been rumours that Jackson will fight against an unannounced opponent later this year, however a rematch with Lawal makes most sense.

The fight with Rampage was close, and merits a second fight, however although Jackson still has fights on his contract, it is currently unclear where his future with the company stands.

Middleweight – Tamdan McCrory def. Brennan Ward via KO (punches) [R1/0:21]

McCrory scored the biggest upset of the night, knocking out a true warrior in Brennan Ward. Not many people saw it coming as McCrory made light work of a tough opponent.

The UFC veteran has made an immediate impact in the Bellator cage and arguably deserves just as big a test in his next fight. The Middleweight division is stacked to the rafters with top level guys, however a fight with the winner of Kendall Grove and Christian M’Pumbu at Bellator 127 may be a clear option for the New Yorker.

Kendall Grove (20-14-1NC) is a UFC veteran and M’Pumbu (18-6-1), the former Light-Heavyweight champion is dropping down to his new home at Middleweight.

Heavyweight – Bobby Lashley def. Josh Burns via Submission (rear-naked choke) [R2/3:54]

It may not have been the most impressive performance, but Lashley dismissed the under-matched Josh Burns with definitive ease. The TNA Wrestling world champion made his successful return to MMA, although he looked rather sluggish in the stand-up department. Burns didn’t really provide much of a test, but Lashley is sure to face a much more evenly matched opponent in his next outing.

The fight that makes most sense is Lashley facing the winner of Javy Ayala (7-3) vs. Raphael Butler (8-0-1) which takes place at Bellator 125 later this month. Ayala is undefeated in Bellator, as is Butler, who also holds a win over similar opponent Josh Burns.

Heavyweight – Cheick Kongo def. Lavar Johnson via Submission (rear-naked choke) [R1/3:27]

Kongo showed utter supremacy in his win over Lavar Johnson, utilising the five D’s of dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge, pretty much avoiding all of Johnson’s attacks. After Kongo took Lavar’s back it was merely a formality.

Due to the lack of depth in the Heavyweight division, there are limited opponents available for Kongo. With Vitaly Minakov awaiting his next challenger in Alexander Volkov, Kongo’s nearest calibre opponent may lay in Blagoy Ivanov (11-1-1NC). The Bulgarian brute will be a stern test for Kongo, and will determine a rightful number one contender.

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