Bellator returns tomorrow night after a one-week hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday, as Bellator 82 marks the start of the championship portion of the organization’s seventh season.
First up will be the final between the two remaining welterweights, as former Bellator champion Lyman Good will square off with Andrey Koreshkov for a shot at Ben Askren‘s 170-pound title.
Both fighters come into the finale off of wins in the semifinals at Bellator 78 in October: Koreskhov flattened Marius Zaromskis, while Good bested Koreshkov’s teammate Michail Tsarev via TKO. It would be hard to pick a winner based on their semifinal performances, because both fighters were impressive ans showed that they were truly the two best welterweights in the eight-fighter tournament.
The 22-year-old Russian Koreshkov remains unbeaten, including eight knockouts and a perfect 4-0 record inside the Bellator cage. He’s been to just one decision in his career, which he won over Jordan Smith in the tournament’s opening round. The biggest question for “Spartan” heading into the Zaromskis fight was how he would fare against increased competition, and he passed that test with flying colors and a highlight reel knockout that is one of the best in Bellator history.
Good won Bellator’s first welterweight tournament and became the organization’s champion, only to lose the title to current champion Askren at Bellator 33 in 2010. He also entered the Season Four tournament, but he lost a razor thin split decision to Rick Hawn in the semifinals. Looking for another shot at Bellator gold, Good entered the Season Seven tournament and has looked spectacular thus far in the first two rounds. Perhaps the most impressive fact is that the powerful striker showed in the semifinals that he can win a fight any way he wants, as he took to grinding out the ground specialist Tsarev early on in their bout before earning the TKO.
So how does this matchup play out? Both fighters are powerful and vicious strikers, and neither has ever been finished in a combined 28 bouts. Good obviously has the high level experience advantage, but Koreshkov showed against Zaromskis that experience isn’t always necessarily a factor. I’m betting that Good will use his size advantage here to steal the first round or so before trying to knock the young Russian out. He won’t be successful in that goal, but he’ll take a close decision win and get his title shot in 2013.
Bellator 82 main card:
Lyman Good vs. Andrey Koreshkov – welterweight tournament final
David Rickels vs. Jason Fischer
Doug Marshall vs. Kala Hose
Alexander Sarnavskiy vs. Tony Hervey