Bellator 186 Main Card Bader vs. Vassell

When it was announced several months ago that Bellator was going to have a show in State College, PA, it was a very welcome thing. Not only would it be interesting to see the second largest MMA promotion in the world right down the road from us, but Pittsburgh MMA fans knew that it would likely present opportunities for some of our local fighters to step up and be showcased on a large stage and at a venue like the Bryce Jordan Center, where thousands of raucous MMA fans will be able to witness a professional MMA event, many of them for the very first time. Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

Bellator was very strategic and smart in their booking as well, placing Penn State wrestling legends Phil Davis and Ed Ruth on this card. Lets take a look at the main card:

Ryan Bader vs. Linton Vassell -Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

Ryan Bader has been a top light heavyweight in all of MMA for quite some time. He left his mark in the UFC, having won 7 of his final 8 fights with the promotion, his only loss coming to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and including notable wins over Ovince St. Preux, Phil Davis, Ilir Latifi and Little Nog, Antonio Nogueira. He has faced the worlds top fighters for the better part of 10 years and has always showed up, aside from a shocking loss to Tito Ortiz via a quick guillotine choke.

Linton Vassell has fought exclusively for Bellator since late 2013 and is 7-2 with the promotion. His most recent victory was a very impressive submission of former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Liam McGeary. While he certainly does not have the resume of Bader, he should present a unique challenged for Bader by having a huge reach advantage on the feet.

Bellator 186 Main Card Bader

Emily Ducote vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane – Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

This is a rematch from last December, a fight in which Macfarlane picked up a unanimous decision against Ducote. Since that time, both have defeated common opponent Jessica Middleton (Macfarlane by 2nd round sub and Ducote by unanimous decision) and Ducote also defeated Katy Collins.

This fight does not scream rematch to me and I actually don’t like this fight booking at this time. Both of these girls are young and on an upswing. Both are talented and inexperienced and could benefit from fights not against each other. Guaranteeing one of these two a loss at this point seems unnecessary considering they just fought a year ago, this would be something I would look to build for a later potential rematch. That being said, Ilima-Lei has the “it” factor, she has a magnetic personality and certainly has personality in her corner, she is someone that is very marketable and this is a great opportunity for her to showcase how she have evolved and progressed this past year. Bellator 186 Main Card Bader

Phil Davis vs. Leo Leite – Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

Phil Davis is a 4-time All-American Collegiate wrestler from Penn State University. Davis will be relishing in this opportunity to showcase his MMA skills in State College, where he made a name for himself. Davis has a very awkward standup game that has seemingly never developed to an elite level of striking. He has been dangerous both on the feet as well as on the ground, but a majority of his wins have come via decision. All four of his career losses have come via decision. To me, he is not the type of guy to explode to end a fight, he plays it pretty safe and prefers to control his opponents. He has the skills to do just that, as he has gone many rounds and never been finished against the elite competition of the UFC and Bellator. His last fight agains Ryan Bader, in which he lost his newly acquired Bellator Light Heavyweight title, was a rematch of their UFC bout in 2015. Let’s just say that the fans will NEVER be clamoring for a 3rd fight between those two, as that combination of fighters in a cage has led to 8 of the least exciting rounds of MMA (lack of) action that I have ever seen by two elite level fighters. Bellator 186 Main Card Bader

This matchup is just straight up bizarre to me. Leo Leite is a 39 year old, undefeated MMA fighter (10-0) representing Brazilian Top Team. He is an elite level Judo and BJJ expert. Leite crossed over to MMA in 2013 and has strung together 10 straight wins against regional opponents. His recent victories come against Moise Rimbon, Julio Juarez, Matt Masterson and Ryan Spann. These are some very talented fighters, but certainly not fighters that anyone would put at “elite” level.

Throwing Leite in there with Davis, while it’s a great opportunity for him, is very curious at best. He simply does not have the resume to be put in there with someone at the talent level of Davis. This is MMA and anything can happen, but this has every indication of not being a competitive fight.Bellator 186 Main Card Bader


Chris Dempsey vs. Ed Ruth – Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

Here is the first Pittsburgh taste of this card. Chris Dempsey was a 10-1 fighter and headed to the big show in 2014. That is where things began to unfold for Dempsey and Bellator 186 is a huge opportunity for him to right the ship. He’s lost his last 3 bouts and 4 out of 5.  Ed Ruth, on the other hand, has won all 3 of his professional bouts.

Dempsey’s victories have been a mixed bag, with 2 by KO, 3 by submissions and 6 distance decisions. He has a strong wrestling background, where at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, he was a 2X All-American. Ed Ruth’s victories were all by KO. Don’t mistake this for being a one-trick pony, though. He’s a blue belt in BJJ, has a strong wrestling background and at Penn State he was a 3X NCAA Champion, 4X All-American and 4X Big Ten Champion. Additionally, he competed at the Pan-American Games in March of 2017 and took home a Silver Medal in Jiu-jitsu. Ed Ruth will be a crowd favorite, fighting for the 1st time as a professional MMA fighter, at his alma mater Penn State. Either Dempsey will step up, or Ruth will showcase his KO power. Either way, don’t expect this one to go the distance. Bellator 186 Main Card Bader

Zach Freeman vs. Saad Awad – Bellator 186 Main Card Bader Vassell

The Altar Boy. The last time we saw Zach Freeman was at Bellator NYC, where he was squaring off against Bellator’s highly touted young prospect, Aaron Pico. All the media attention went towards Pico and his pro MMA debut and Freeman made everyone in attendance at the ceremonial weigh-ins aware that he wasn’t too pleased about it. No video montage for him, so he decided he would add to Pico’s highlights ….. or should I say lowlights. Freeman dispatched Pico in :24 seconds with a guillotine choke. He’s got the submissions down with 6 of his 9 victories coming by way of chokes. He’s susceptible to a striker. His 2 loses showed that as a hole in his game. Saad Awad brings in a 20-9 overall record that sports 8 KO/TKO’s and 7 submissions. The Assassin, like Freeman, is susceptible the striking game as well, with 3 of his 9 losses coming by way of KO/TKO. Freeman may have benefited from the inexperience of Aaron Pico to get the submission victory, but it’ll be a tall task to catch Awad in a similar predicament. His 29 professional mma bouts and the experience and skill set of his previous opponents help to set some distance between himself and Freeman.  I think a decision victory is probable here, but we always like to see the finish here at Octagon247. If it does go the distance, there’s no one to blame but yourself. Don’t put it in the hands of the judges.

Bellator 186 Main Card Bader

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