Bellator MMA is a lot of things to MMA fans.
The promotion has offered a lot of quality fights in recent months. A quick review of the last Bellator season alone reveals a clear fight of the year candidate in Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez. Memorable bouts like Alexander Schlemenko vs. Doug Marshall.
It has a variety of MMA talent: some new names, like Schlemenko and his “RusFighter” teammates, have found a home in Bellator. Old favorites pop up, from Renato Sobral to, yes, I’ll admit it, War Machine. Bellator also featured women’s MMA before the UFC.
Yep. Bellator is a lot of things.
One thing it isn’t, is a feeder for the UFC. It seems we just don’t seem to see talent moving from one to the other that much.
One exception enters the Octagon for the first time on Saturday. Another is on a recent career resurgence, and continues his quest for UFC gold in March 2014. Then… well, then there’s the case of Ben Askren. Fans wonder how these Bellator ex-champs will, or could, do in the Octagon. Let’s have a look:
Is it Zach Makovsky’s Time to Shine?
Former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky, will enter the Octagon for the first time at UFC on Fox 9 in Sacramento, CA this weekend. It will also be only the third time in his seven year career which he has campaigned at flyweight — and he took the assignment on only eleven day’s notice.
The 31 year old Georgia native, now fighting out of Philadelphia, will replace the injured John Dodson against a solid and seasoned Scott Jorgenson.
Makovsky has won two consecutive bouts at his new weight — looking as explosive as ever but now with a little size to back it up. His title reign at bantam for Bellator ended with a kata gatame (arm triangle) at the hands of current champion, Eduardo Dantas. His only other loss in the last four years was a decision to Anthony Leone.
His opponent is a good all-around fighter known for tenacity. I like Makovsky to beat the odds here though, and possibly become an interesting X-factor in the division. The X factor for him, of course, will be how he handles that weight cut on short notice.
Hector Lombard: The New Bully on the Welterweight Block
Former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard was seen as a bit of a disappointment when he first made the switch to UFC competition last year. After cutting through the Bellator middleweight roster with six straight victories, Lombard received a hefty UFC contract. But only after moving down to welter has Lombard appeared to deliver on his early promise.
Now, he’s been scheduled to fight former title challenger Jake Shields at UFC 171 in March. Shields will find himself at a deficit in power and explosiveness against Lombard, who I believe has enough ground acumen to keep the Cesar Gracie product at bay on the mat. I like the Bellator alum to earn a minor upset here, as well.
And… Ben Askren…
Ben Askren has shown as impressive a ground-and-pound game as anyone in MMA. He keeps it safe, but he keeps fighters on their back and defending. He keeps accumulating rounds. He keeps winning.
It’s this observer’s opinion that he’d do the same to all but the best of the UFC’s welterweights — and probably stretch even them to close decisions. Ironically I’d love to see him against Lombard. None of that will happen with him at One FC, but maybe that organization will build around him.
What do you expect from Bellator’s alumni? Let us know, and as always, thanks for reading.