What to Watch For: Bellator 175

By: Brian Knapp
Mar 31, 2017

They needed more than three rounds to settle their differences.

Quinton Jackson will pen the next chapter in his Bellator MMA rivalry with Muhammed Lawal, as the two heavyweights collide in the Bellator 175 headliner on Friday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Their grudge match -- it serves as a sequel to the first encounter won by Jackson at Bellator 120 a little less than three years ago -- anchors a five-fight main draw on Spike TV (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT).

A five-fight winning streak precedes Jackson’s arrival. The 39-year-old Memphis, Tennessee, native last competed at Bellator 157 on June 24, when he escaped with a split decision over 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. A former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder and finalist in the 2003 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix, “Rampage” sports 23 finishes among his 37 career victories. Wins over Chuck Liddell (twice), Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, Matt Lindland, Igor Vovchanchyn and Murilo Bustamante anchor Jackson’s extensive resume.

Lawal, 36, has lost twice in his past three outings. The former Strikeforce champion last fought on Dec. 29 in Saitama, Japan, where he succumbed to second-round punches from Mirko Filipovic in the 2016 Rizin Fighting Federation open weight grand prix quarterfinals. “King Mo” was a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University before transitioning to mixed martial arts.

With the Jackson-Lawal rematch as the focal point, here is what to watch for at Bellator 175:

Collision Course

Emmanuel Sanchez has long angled for a shot at the Bellator featherweight championship, and his next assignment has the potential to strengthen his case.

The Roufusport standout will welcome former bantamweight titleholder Marcos Galvao to the 145-pound weight class in the co-main event. Sanchez has compiled a 6-2 record since arriving in Bellator in October 2014, decision defeats to Pat Curran and Daniel Weichel his only setbacks. The Duke Roufus understudy last competed at Bellator 170 on Jan. 21, when he took a majority decision from onetime World Series of Fighting and Tachi Palace Fights champion Georgi Karakhanyan. Sanchez’s past seven bouts have gone the distance.

Galvao has recorded eight wins across his last 10 appearances, losing only to former Nova Uniao stablemate Eduardo Dantas. A multiple-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, he has not fought since he eked out a split decision over L.C. Davis at Bellator 166 in December.

Back to Business

Unfortunately for Sergei Kharitonov, there are no mulligans in MMA.

The Pride Fighting Championships veteran will attempt to rebound from a shocking 16-second knockout defeat to Javy Ayala in his Bellator debut when he toes the line against Chase Gormley in a three-round heavyweight showcase. The loss to Ayala at Bellator 163 in November was Kharitonov’s first since 2011 and snapped a five-fight winning streak for the Russian paratrooper. He owns wins over Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Pedro Rizzo and Semmy Schilt but has not stayed active enough to establish any kind of consistency in the heavyweight division. Kharitonov has delivered 22 of his 23 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

Gormley, 33, has captured titles in the Gladiator Challenge and Titan Fighting Championship organizations. He last fought at Bellator 162 on Oct. 21, when he was awarded a split decision against Bobby Brents.

Addition By Subtraction

Perhaps Noad Lahat has found a place to call home.

Once hailed as a can’t-miss prospect, the American Kickboxing Academy export parted ways with the UFC following a 2-2 stint in the promotion that included a pair of violent knockout losses to Godofredo Castro and Diego Rivas. The 32-year-old Israeli made his Bellator debut in November and needed a little more than two minutes to submit Scott Cleve with a rear-naked choke. Lahat, who holds the rank of black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, will take his latest swings at journeyman Lloyd Carter on the main card.

Carter last appeared in September, when he tapped to a guillotine choke from former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Miguel Torres at a United Combat League event in Hammond, Indiana. Five of his eight professional defeats have resulted in submissions.

Proving Grounds

Steve Kozola could not have scripted a better start to his career.

The 27-year-old Naperville, Illinois, native will enter his featured lightweight clash against Jake Roberts with a perfect 7-0 record in tow. The taekwondo black belt has stopped all seven of his opponents, four of them inside one round, and splits his training between the Team Quest and Oceanside Jiu-Jitsu camps. Kozola must shake off the rust from a lengthy layoff, having last fought at World Series of Fighting 30 nearly a year ago, when he disposed of Matt Church with first-round punches.

The once-beaten Roberts suffered his first pro defeat in November, when he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Carrington Banks at Bellator 165. The MMA Lab representative boasts six finishes among his seven career victories.

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