Preview: Bellator 239 ‘Ruth vs. Amosov’ - Ruth vs. Amosov

By: Keith Shillan
Feb 20, 2020

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Bellator MMA returns this weekend with events on back-to-back nights with the action crossing two different continents. The weekend will kick off on Friday at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, with Bellator 239. Then, on Saturday, the promotion will invade the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, with Bellator 240, which will air in the United States on tape delay on the Paramount Network. The first leg of the double-header will feature a showdown between surging young welterweights Ed Ruth and Yaroslav Amosov, who have a combined record of 30-1 in professional mixed martial arts. The rest of the Bellator 239 main card will showcase a multitude of crafty veterans and budding prospects.

Here is a closer look at the main card.

Ed Ruth vs. Yaroslav Amosov

After spending his entire three-year professional MMA career under the Bellator banner, Ruth gets his first opportunity to headline a card with the company. After compiling an 8-1 record, EZ takes another step towards adding Bellator gold to his mantle. Since receiving his only career loss at the hands of Neiman Gracie in the opening round of the Bellator Grand Prix tournament back in December 2018, he has bounced back with victories over Kiichi Kunimoto and Jason Jackson — though his split decision victory over the latter was a very debatable verdict. The 29-year-old is one of the best wrestlers in all of MMA, having won three Division 1 NCAA National Champion titles. The Pennsylvania native can get takedowns from a distance or in close quarters, and he has a smothering top game with brutal ground-and-pound. He has focused on his grappling, competing in the Pan-Am Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu games and showing his growth on the ground by constantly looking to advance to a better position. If his opponent attempts to get back to his feet, Ruth is great in scrambles to keep the position. The American Kickboxing Academy team member has made some great improvements in his striking, as well. He is light on his feet, can fight from both the orthodox and southpaw stances and is good at sliding into the pocket to attack. His jab has evolved into his best punch. He makes the mistake of not attacking with combinations, electing to throw a single blow at a time, while he lacks true one-punch fight-ending power. Ruth has the propensity to throw a lot of kicks to the body and sneaks some to the head because he isn’t worried about being taken down if his opponent catches a kick. However, this overconfidence has led to him being taken down by less credentialled wrestlers in the past. He has some glaring striking defense deficiencies. He tends to drop his hands and keep his head on the centerline, attempting to block with his forearms and roll with punches and thereby leaving him vulnerable to being rocked, as happened several times against Jackson in his last appearance. The best part of his game is his constant forward pressure, but it should be noted that he appeared to have gassed out in his loss to Gracie.

Amosov’s professional record is nothing short of amazing. The 26-year-old has amassed a perfect 22-0 record and is 3-0 inside the Bellator cage, with wins over Gerald Harris, Erick Silva and David Rickels. He is a former four-time Combat Sambo World Champion and he has a well-rounded MMA game. “Dynamo” is a high-volume striker who does well to attack and dodge counterattacks with good footwork. He can get ahead on the judges’ scorecards by working from the outside with his stinging jab, his straight right hand and his counter left hook. The Ukrainian throws a lot of kicks with the teep being his specialty kick. Though he has such an effective game from distance, he often looks to charge into the pocket to throw combinations. He loses some technique while battling in the pocket because he ducks his head straight down the middle, leaving himself open to the uppercut. The undefeated fighter also lacks true one-punch fight-ending power, similar to his opponent. While Amosov more than holds his own on the feet, his grappling remains the cornerstone of his game. He has good timing and deep penetration on his takedown entries. Once on top, he smothers his opponents with a good top game. He does well to batter his foes with clubbing ground-and-pound. The European is also a serious submission threat, as he has tapped out 10 opponents in the past. Amosov will look to lock in Brabo and anaconda chokes when a wrestling scramble develops.

I absolutely love this matchup. Both fighters are really talented and I believe have great futures in the company. Both combatants are just entering their prime years and should turn this into a fun back-and-forth affair. Amosov will have to rely on his striking game because Ruth should have a slight advantage in the wrestling department. I expect this fight to be extremely close and I don’t feel like I have a firm grip on who wins, as I am high on both competitors. If I must pick a winner, I will lean towards the undefeated fighter based on his appearing to be a little bit further into his development: Amosov outpoints the former Nittany Lion to pick up a split decision win.

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