Bellator MMA’s first event of the new year is upon as Bellator 192 will kick off the 1st match of the heavyweight Grand Prix tournament with Quinton Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen. The co-main event, which some say is the true main event, will see Bellator’s welterweight champion Douglas Lima attempt to defend his belt against top flight challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator’s former lightweight king Michael Chandler looks to rebound from losing his title as he takes on the 22-3 young gun Goiti Yamauchi.
Also on the card, featherweight contender Henry Corrales will tangle with the always dangerous Georgi Karakhanyan, and wrestling standout Aaron Pico takes on Shane Kruchten to kick off the card. Bellator 192 can be seen this Saturday night, on Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 7:00 P.M .ET.
**The main event preview for Quinton Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen can be in found in its own separate post.
Main Card: Paramount Network
Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA; 11-2 Bellator) vs. Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA;1-0 Bellator): Welterweight Title
Douglas Lima lost his 170-pound title to Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 140 back in 2015, but the venomous striker would use the loss as motivation to return to top form. Lima went on to defeat Paul Daley in London, KO’d Koreshkov to recapture his crown, and then defended that belt against Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC this past June. In each of his previous three bouts, Lima has landed a bodacious left hook that helped his opponent have a seat, with Daley and Larkin recovering while Koreshkov got pounded out. Koreshkov found some success against Lima utilizing the takedown and top control, which Rory MacDonald had an easy time doing against Paul Daley in his promotional debut, so will the champ be able to keep this fight on its feet? It’s fair to say that Rory MacDonald will be one of, if not the toughest test of Lima’s career, and beating someone of MacDonald’s caliber should earn him some serious respect and recognition as one of the very best welterweights in the world.
Rory MacDonald showed up to the Bellator promotion having already proven himself as one of the most elite welterweights in MMA, and his debut performance delivered exactly what would one expect from someone with such a reputation. MacDonald absolutely ran through Paul Daley at Bellator 179, controlling the Bellator veteran for basically each moment of the fight before sinking a choke in the second round. The chin and heart of MacDonald is top notch, evident in his legendary battles with MMA great Robbie Lawler, so if this title fight turns into a war, we have reason to believe MacDonald will be down for the long haul. The opportunity to hop leagues and win a title is right in front of MacDonald, but he will have to first show Douglas Lima that he isn’t the most elite welterweight in the Bellator promotion anymore. Will MacDonald join Ryan Bader and Phil Davis in the group of former UFC fighters who went to Bellator and won a belt?
Michael Chandler (16-4 MMA; 13-4 Bellator) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA; 8-2 Bellator): Lightweight
Michael Chandler recaptured the Bellator lightweight title with a unanimous decision win over Benson Henderson at Bellator 165, just to lose the gold once again in his following bout at Bellator NYC. In an unfortunate turn of events, Chandler rolled his ankle in the first round, which then gave out multiple times before the referee stepped in, resulting in a TKO loss and the lightweight strap being awarded to Brent Primus. We saw what happened when Chandler lost his belt in his rematch with Eddie Alvarez. He took two L’s against Will Brooks, but then rebounded nicely with a bunch of violent finishes to return to contender status, winning the vacant belt by besting Bendo, but can he do it yet again? Chandler’s first career loss was followed by two more consecutive losses; will history repeat itself, or can Chandler hop into the win column and make his way back to the belt?
Goiti Yamauchi has posted a stout 8-2 record inside of the Bellator promotion, getting seven of those eight wins inside of the distance. Of those seven finishes, six of them came by way of submission, including his recent three-fight winning streak in which Yamauchi sub’d each of his opponents in under four minutes. In a clash to see which prospect would turn into a contender, Yamauchi strangled the then undefeated Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 183, punching his ticket to a matchup with a former champ. Is Yamauchi ready to dance with the big dogs and compete for a Bellator title?
Henry Corrales (14-3 MMA; 2-3 Bellator) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (27-7-1 MMA; 6-5 Bellator): Featherweight
Henry Corrales went through a baptism by fire for his entry into the Bellator promotion, facing the likes Daniel Straus, Emmanuel Sanchez, and Patricio Freire for his first three fights with the organization. Since running the gauntlet, Corrales went on to KO Cody Bollinger with body shots at Bellator 170 and followed up with a unanimous decision win over Noad lahat at Bellator 182. Now training at The MMA Lab in Arizona, Corrales is looking to make it three-straight and place himself in a position to get back those losses he suffered early on in his Bellator career.
Georgi Karakhanyan hasn’t been the most consistent fighter as of late, but “Insane” is still as dangerous as ever. Karakhanyan is a cool breeze killer but is hard to kill himself, making his opponents work for their wins. Karakhanyan has finished 21 of his 27 wins, including his past six victories, dating back to 2013. He was finished by Patricio Freire at Bellator 137 in 2011 and suffered an injury TKO to Rick Glenn at WSOF 10 in 2014, but other than that, the rest of Karakhanyan’s losses have come by way of decision. It seems like Karakhanyan is playing the role of gatekeeper here. If Karakhanyan wins, then Corrales goes to back of the line, but if Corrales wins, then he will get to parley with the elite.
Aaron Pico (1-1 MMA/Bellator) vs. Shane Kruchten (12-3 MMA; Bellator Debut): Featherweight
After a pro debut hiccup against Zach Freeman, highly scouted wrestling standout turned pro MMA fighter, Aaron Pico, scored his first professional win at Bellator 183 with a sensational first-round one-punch KO of Justin Linn. Pico showed off a lethal left hook, giving some credence to the notion that the 21-year-old prospect is not just a wrestler. The spectacular knockout got Pico’s hype train rolling again, but will it stay that way as he moves in for his third go under the Bellator lights.
Shane Kruchten has been fighting professionally for over a decade, debuting in 2007 and fighting on the regional scene before making it to a bigger show in 2014. Kruchten went 1-1 in the WSOF with the 1st bout being a submission loss to Mike Corey in March of 2014, and the 2nd being a unanimous decision win over Jeremy Mahon in December of 2016. Having two fights in roughly four years doesn’t exactly make for an active fighter, so the experience advantage held over Pico on paper might not translate to an actual edge inside the cage.
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