Bellator 229: “Koreshkov vs. Larkin” comes to Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif., tomorrow night (Fri., Oct. 4, 2019), streaming live online via DAZN. Originally set to meet at Bellator 219 in March, this week’s main event between Andrey Koreshkov and Lorenz Larkin got postponed to this weekend. For both men — and fight fans — the long wait is just about over.
Let’s break it down:
170 lbs.: Andrey Koreshkov (22-3) vs. Lorenz Larkin (20-7, 1 NC)
Only three pieces of Kryptonite have pierced the steely exterior of the “Spartan” Andrey Koreshkov thus far — two are named Douglas Lima and one is “Funky” Ben Askren. When he’s not facing either of those men the former Welterweight champion seems to pick people apart with ease. He doesn’t have the longest reach in the division at 74,” but his striking is so effective he finishes 54 percent of his wins (12 of 22) by knockout. His trainer is the master of the spinning backfist “Storm” Alexander Shlemenko and it shows every time Koreshkov steps into the cage. He backs up a diversified striking array with solid Brazilian jiu-jitsu (three submissions) and cardio (six decisions) that always gives him options if he needs them. He rarely ever does.
Now enter “Da Monsoon” Lorenz Larkin and his 36 chambers of death. While he gives up height (5’11” to 6’1”) and reach (72”) to his opponent, he lacks nothing in the power department, having put away 55 percent of his wins (11 of 20) by knockout. The Wu-Tang Clan references are not an accident — Larkin grew up infatuated with kung-fu movies and even trained in the arts before he got into mixed martial arts (MMA). He brings that Shaolin Shadowboxing into the cage with him and knows how to befuddle foes, and those who can withstand his blows still fall victim to his relentless stamina (nine decisions).
If the Russian warrior who embodies ancient Greek mythology and the California kid who loves fatal flying guillotines meet, whose style will reign supreme?
While Larkin can bring a fun Wu-Tang sword style to a fight, he too has fallen victim to Douglas Lima. Having a common opponent may benefit both men, but I believe it benefits Koreshkov more. The same tells that Lima was able to read in Larkin’s stance and timing will be there for Koreshkov as well. Ironically it’s the Russian who has the more unpredictable, more unorthodox “drunken kung-fu” of the two. Although Larkin has just as much power as Koreshkov, “Da Monsoon” will wind up in a whirling tornado of roundhouse kicks quicker than a proverbial hiccup.
Final prediction: Andrey Koreshkov wins via second round knockout
155 lbs.: Saad Awad (23-11) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (23-4)
If you’re looking for somebody to have a stand up bang out war with, Saad Awad is your guy. Even the late Sean Price would describe him as, “half man, half manimal.” Indeed, 43 percent of his wins (10 of 23) are by knockout and 30 percent (seven of 23) are submissions. In total, he’s only been to a decision one-third of the time (11 of 34). Unfortunately, Awad is also a streaky fighter as he followed up four straight divisional wins with back-to-back losses. Goiti Yamauchi is an almost singular fighter by comparison with 18 of 23 wins (78 percent) coming by submission, but he’s never lost two fights in a row in his entire career. Age is a factor as Yamauchi is 10 years younger than Awad, and in every other way they are “virtually identical” save for the metal plate in Awad’s left hand and the half inch reach advantage (74”) going to Yamauchi. Those long arms help him on the ground but I think he’ll do the damage with his legs in more ways than one.
Final prediction: Goiti Yamauchi via triangle choke submission
185 lbs.: Joe Schilling (4-5) vs. Tony Johnson (8-2)
You might wonder why a sub-.500 fighter is on the main broadcast of a Bellator card until you realize “Stitch ‘Em Up” Joe Schilling is a multi-time kickboxing world champion with highlight reel knockouts and deadly slicing elbows. He’s being given a sizable opportunity here. If Schilling can’t defeat Johnson then all of his bluster about dedicating himself to MMA full time will be for naught. At that point he should go back to kickboxing.
Final prediction: Joe Schilling via second round technical knockout stoppage (doctor)
118 lbs.: Keri Anne Melendez (3-0) vs. Mandy Polk (3-4)
Speaking of kickboxers, this fight is undeniably meant to appeal to the Californians in attendance as both she and husband Gilbert (who will be cornering her) hail from San Francisco. Giving her a mediocre opponent almost ensures an easy win for Melendez and a raucous reaction from the crowd, which is exactly what all involved are looking for.
Final prediction: Keri Anne Melendez via knockout in round one
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 229 tomorrow with a main card at 9 p.m. ET on Paramount Network and DAZN, with “Prelims” undercard bouts starting at 7 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.