This past weekend, at Bellator 82, the organization crowned a new Welterweight tournament champion as undefeated Russian Andrey Koreshkov took out former champion Lyman Good in convincing fashion. Koreshkov will now sit in queue waiting for a title shot. He gets the winner of the match between Season 6 welterweight tournament winner Karl Amoussou and Champion Ben Askren, which will presumably take place sometime next year when Bellator moves to SPIKETV. Koreshkov is just 22 years old and owns an impressive 13-0 record in MMA, including being 5-0 in Bellator. But how does he match up with Askren and Amoussou?
Bellator announced the signing of a slew of Russian and Eastern European fighters this past year as part of a deal with a Russian TV network, and Koreshkov looks to be the class of the bunch. He is a polished striker, and he is scrappy on the ground, as he proved this past weekend in the second round, surviving Good’s effort to finish the fight.
Askren, the champion is an interesting case. An Olympic level wrestler, ‘Funky’ has gone the distance in his last 6 fights, including three that were five rounds. His grappling should keep him out of submission danger against Amoussou and Koreshkov if they do meet. The problem with Askren’s style, aside from it being incredibly boring at times, is that he is forced to fight an entire fight while trying not to get hit. He has been perfect so far, but eventually everyone gets caught (ask other top proponents of this style, such as Matt Lindland and Randy Couture) and he will be facing much more polished strikers in Amoussou and Koreshkov. If he tries to use his stand up skills, he will get his head taken off.
Amoussou is a welterweight who has fought at middleweight as well, and he will be dangerous with strikes throughout the fight with Askren. Askren will go in favored, however.
Despite Koreshkov’s promise, he will probably be an underdog to either Amoussou or Askren. Amoussou will be bigger than Koreshkov, but the young Russian will have a chance with his aggressive striking.
Against Askren, you are looking at another Askren hug fest for the win. It is unfortunate that Bellator elects to make matches this way, as a prospect like Koreshkov still needs a few more matches in order to polish parts of his game. The truth is, so does Askren….