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MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR THURSDAY: INITIAL REACTIONS TO NEW BELLATOR BOUTS

Bellator has declared two or three big fights for upcoming battle cards, and I’ll give my thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas, Bellator 214
Featherweight competition Juan Archuleta has decided to drop down to bantamweight and he will take on top prospect Ricky Bandejas in Bellator 214, which takes place January 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Archuleta (21-1) is on a 16-fight win series and is 3-0 thus far in Bellator together with his most recent victory being a choice win over Jeremy Spoon back in November. Bandejas (11-1) started his Bellator career with a bang when he brutally knocked out Bellator’s golden boy James Gallagher last summer. He has only lost once in his profession, to UFC vet Nick Pace, and he holds a notable win over present UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili. This is such a good battle between two fighters on the rise, and it’s not an easy one to pick considering both men are incredibly talented and both are riding a great deal of momentum into this battle. I believe Archuleta is somewhat more strong and proven, but Bandejas is a exceptional prospect . Look for a near line with a slight lean towards Archuleta.
Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop 2, Bellator 217
Heavyweights Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop are set to rematch in Bellator 217, occurring February 16 at Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. Neslon (23-16) is 1-2 so much in Bellator and most recently was knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov in an upset. Nelson formerly defeated Cro Cop through TKO back in UFC 137 in 2011. Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) will be producing his inaugural Bellator introduction on the heels of a nine-fight win series, wiht lots of the wins coming from RIZIN. Nelson may have defeated Cro Cop the very first time, but according to Cro Cop’s long win streak and Nelson’s diminishing chin I would have to favor Cro Cop to win the rematch.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Andrey Koreshkov, Bellator 220
An intriguing welterweight bout between strikers Lorenz Larkin and Andrey Koreshkov is set to headline Bellator 200, occurring March 29 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. Larkin (20-7, 1 NC) is just 2-2 so much in Bellator, but he is coming off of successive wins over Fernando Gonzalez and Ion Pascu. The Pascu battle was supposed to become a welterweight tournament alternate bout, bout Bellator must figure they do not need a repacement fighter so they gave Larkin this fight against Koreshkov. Despite Larkin being a bit of a disappointment so far since signing a large free-agent contract with Bellator, he possesses knockout power which will always make him a danger to beat anybody in the branch. Koreshkov (21-3) is 12-3 overall in Bellator and most recently lost by submission to Douglas Lima from the opening round of this welterweight tournament. His ground game and chin have looked shaky at times at Bellator, but like Larkin he is always a threat to win by knockout. This ought to be a very competitive fight but Koreshkov always gets enormous admiration from bettors and I guess he wil be a small favorite here.
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