MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of Bellator’s top bouts, and today, we look at Bellator 193’s main event.
Bellator 193 takes place Friday at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif. The main card airs on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.
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Lorenz Larkin (18-7 MMA, 0-2 Bellator)
- Height: 5’11” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 72″
- Last fight: KO loss to Paul Daley (Sep. 23, 2017)
- Camp: Millenia MMA (California)
- Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
- Risk management: Good
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt
+ 11 KO victories
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ Solid feints and footwork
+ Fast hand and foot speed
^ Closes distance quickly
+ Dynamic kicking attacks
^ Leg kicks to spinning assaults
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Prioritizes defense
+/- Limited grappling sample size
Fernando Gonzalez (27-14 MMA, 7-1 Bellator)
- Height: 5’9″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs. Reach: 68″
- Last fight: Submission win over Brennan Ward (Aug. 25th, 2017)
- Camp: Team Quest (California)
- Stance/striking style: Southpaw/muay Thai
- Risk management: Fair
+ Multiple muay Thai accolades
+ 11 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Can fight from both stances
+ High-volume striker
^ Puts together punches well
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Underrated grappling ability
+ Dangerous guillotine choke
Larkin, one of the promotion’s higher-profile free agent signings of 2017, is in search of his first Bellator win after coming off of two disappointing performances against strong opposition.
Seeking to spoil Larkin’s rebounding effort is Gonzalez, an experienced competitor and quintessential underdog who has quietly gone 7-1 under the Bellator banner.
It can be easy to judge Gonzalez at first glance, but there is a lot to like about the 15-year veteran’s game – particularly when it comes to his striking.
Though his slow-burn stylings can sometimes come at a detriment, Gonzalez has shown that he can match whatever pace his opponent brings to the table, whether that be intensity or inertia. Capable of fighting from either stance, Gonzalez – the natural southpaw – will typically offer multiple looks before getting his combination game going.
Gonzalez also does a deceptively good job of countering, throwing accurate left-hands in small spaces and off of the breaks. And given that left hands (from both stances) have been Larkin’s common culprit, I would not be surprised to see Gonzalez’s heavy trigger-finger pay off in that regard.
Nevertheless, the man from Menifee will likely have to commit to pressuring Larkin if he wants to find success in this fight.
A dynamic stick and move stylist, Larkin’s game comes to life when allowed the open space to operate. Wielding wicked fast hand and foot speed, Larkin can close distances at the drop of a dime.
Whether he his pumping his jab to drive a cross down the center or laying into the legs of his opposition, Larkin has no qualms in maintaining his preferred range. When feeling in stride, Larkin will unlock his free-flowing nature, launching a beautiful economy of combinations that follow his opponent in retreat.
However, considering the speed advantage Larkin should enjoy over Gonzalez, I suspect that the UFC veteran will be staying on his proverbial horse while attacking.
Even though neither fighter is necessarily known for their wrestling or grappling agendas, takedowns could be a factor for stimying each fighter’s strengths as well as earning close scorecards. And with both of their histories in mind, I believe that Gonzalez will be the man with more of a motive to get this to the ground.
A longtime member of Team Quest, Gonzalez stays busy inside of the clinch and demonstrates serviceable wrestling when he calls upon it. He may have trouble getting Larkin down (as he heavily prioritizes defense in this space), but Gonzalez could use these scenarios to outwork his opponent or create an opportunity for his crafty guillotine choke.
Currently, there are no odds out for this matchup at the time of this writing.
If it were me setting this line (which thankfully it’s not), I would imagine that Larkin would open as a moderate favorite over Gonzalez. Despite Larkin’s recent skid, he’s still the fighter who has fought better competition and arguably has a higher ceiling. Coupled with what should be a comfortable speed advantage, and I could easily see Larkin sticking and moving his way to victory.
That said, if Larkin fails to hurt or significantly change the course of this fight early, then we may see the momentum steadily shift. Not only does Gonzalez have a pension for staging late comebacks, but he also presents the stylistic intangibles of a durable southpaw who refuses to go away. In a matchup that I feel will be closer than meets the eye, I’ll side with Gonzalez’s pressure to edge out a 29-28 scorecard for the upset.
Official pick: Gonzalez by decision
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Bellator 193 main-event breakdown: Will Lorenz Larkin's struggles continue?