Bellator 199: Ryan Bader vs. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal Fight Preview
MMA Record: 24-5
Bellator Record: 2-0
Notable Wins: Phil Davis (x2), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (x2), Rashad Evans, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Notable Losses: Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, Anthony Johnson
Last Fight: TKO win over Linton Vassell
Fighter Profile: Bader is the Bellator light heavyweight champion right now and prior to that was a former Ultimate Fighter winner and one of the best 205 pounders in the UFC. A terrific athlete, Bader has translated well from his wrestling background into becoming who he is now, one of the most well-rounded MMA light heavyweight fighters in the world. He is currrently on a four-fight win streak and has won nine of his last 10 fights with the lone loss in that time coming to Anthony Johnson. Bader has an exceptional takedown game to go along with improving striking and finishing ability. He was a great signing for Bellator, and a big loss for the UFC.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal
MMA Record: 21-6, 1 NC
Bellator Record: 10-4
Notable Wins: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Cheick Kongo, Gegard Mousasi
Notable Losses: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Phil Davis, Mirko Cro Cop
Last Fight: Decision win over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Fighter Profile: A well-rounded light heavyweight, "King Mo" has done well for himself combining his striking wrestling to become a fully-fledged mixed martial artist. He's a guy with very good wrestling to go along with a sollid boxing attack and finishing power on the feet, and it's led him to have a solid career -- but not a truly great one. A former champion in Strikeforce, Lawal hasn't been able to achieve the same success in Bellator. Though his 10-4 record in the company is solid, he's always lost "the big fight" to the likes of Davis, Jackson and Emmanuel Newton. After a so-so stint in RIZIN, Lawal is back and ready to challenge Bader in the Heavyweight Grand Prix quarterfinals, but it's hard to say what kind of success he'll have here as Bader is almost a mirror version of himself, just better.
Fight Breakdown: This was the right matchup for Bellator to make for the light heavyweight champion. It features the promoton's top two guys at 205lbs and it should be a very competitive fight. The fact it is taking place in the heavyweight division makes it a bit more interesting, but I still feel like Bader will be the bigger man even despite Lawal having previously fought at HW. That being said, I think Bader edges Lawal out and wins a decision here. Bader has proven he knows what it takes to win those really close fights, something which Lawal can't attest to. Bader is the slightly better wrestler in this matchup and I believe he has the more dynamic striking attack as well. It's possible Lawal could catch Bader on the chin, but highly unlikely. I just feel like this one plays out very similarly to Bader's fights against Davis, where they were kind of boring fights where not much happened but where Bader was able to land a good strike at the right time as well as a nicely-timed takedown to edge out a close fight on the judges' scorecards. And with his improved finishing ability, I wouldn't be completely surprised if Bader was able to get the knockout in this one.
Prediction: Ryan Bader via decision
Tags: betting preview
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Mixed martial arts journalist. Lead writer for MMAOddsbreaker.com and also featured at @MMARatingsNet, @mmanews_com and @fightodds_io.
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