Welcome fight fans, to my picks and predictions for Bellator 163. “McGeary vs. Davis” will air Friday evening via Spike.com/Bellator mobile app (prelims 6:45 ET) and Spike TV (main card 9 p.m.). The card’s action will be headlined by the promotion’s two top light heavyweights battling for the divisional title. A solid line-up calls for solid picks, right? Whether you agree or disagree, leave your thoughts by commenting.
As lead writer here, I do my best to make quality peeks into the future. That being said, anything can (and does) happen in mixed martial arts. With an overall 803-474 (63% correct) record thus far since our launch, let’s get into how I see the action inside the cage going down from Connecticut.
Liam McGeary (pick) vs. Phil Davis
I’ve got a lot of respect for the grappling of Davis and can’t deny that he’s been a consistently top performer throughout his career. What stops me from backing Davis in a matchup against McGeary is transitions. MMA is all about the transitions from striking to clinching to grappling to submission attempts, over and over. Liam has shown he is adept above all other Bellator light heavyweights in seamlessly flowing from a calculated striking attack to wrapping his opponents up on the ground. The Ortiz fight was a perfect example of this.
McGeary walks out of the arena Friday night with gold around his waist while Davis proves himself worthy of top 5 status but not much more.
Saad Awad vs. Brennan Ward (pick)
I’ve long been a fan of Awad and his dynamic approach to facing opponents of varying strengths and backgrounds, but was disappointed to see him most recently fall off the wagon against Derek Anderson. It’s a fight I feel he could have won with a different game plan.
Ward is 4-1 in his last five appearances with the lone loss being a fluke mistake opposite Evangelista Santos. The quality of competition Brennan’s faced, his power, speed, and youth – it all adds up to him being my pick in this welterweight tilt.
Javy Ayala vs. Sergei Kharitonov (pick)
There are a lot of unanswered questions heading into this fight. How will the veteran Kharitonov do in his promotional debut? Can Ayala score a signature win while adding some consistency to his record? Does the striking of each cancel one another out?
Ayala isn’t necessarily a terrible pick here, but he’s isnt a strong one either. He’s gone 1-2 in his last three outings under the Bellator banner and was finished in both losses. Javy’s shown a versatile game but a tendency to overreach and lose focus on defense. There’s just not enough in recent history for me to have much confidence here.
Ultimately, I have to lean a tad toward Sergei in this fight due to his win streak. Yes, he’s only fought a little more than once a year since 2008, and yes the quality of opponents hasn’t been all that spectacular, but he’s finished everyone he’s faced since 2012 and has fought a who’s who of MMA heavyweights.