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Jim Range | Knuckle Junkies

Road to Dynamite : Round Table - Part 1

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

It's kinda maddening.

With both a ring and a cage simultaneously buzzing like a blender filled with fists and kicks, knees and elbows, Bellator 157: Dynamite 2, which takes place Friday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, will be a mind bender for the fight fan in attendance.

Dynamite 2 airs on Spike TV at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT with the preliminary fights streaming on Bellator.com beginning at 6:30 ET/5:30 CT. The event is headlined by a heavyweight bout between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Satoshi Ishii.

KnuckleJunkies.com compiled a round table to wax on some of the more prominent and interesting bouts featuring local talent. The cage committee consisted of Sid Gee (longtime area and national cutman and coach), Matt Frazier (Creative Director KnuckleJunkies.com) Travis Brown (reporter with MMAWreckage.com), Craig Nasello (St. Louis cutman and coach), and Rob Donaker (Shamrock FC matchmaker) who gave their thoughts and insights. KJ Senior Editor in Chief Brett Auten then made his predictions for select fights.

In a couple of days we will run Part II of the series with even more breakdowns, including the return of "Ruthless" Rebecca Ruth and the gold-star match-up of Chris "Stump" Heatherly vs. Joaquin Buckley.

First up:

Co-Main Event: Michael Chandler (14-3) vs Pitbull Freire (16-7)

Chandler and Freire meet for the vacant Bellator lightweight title. In May, 2011, Chandler defeated Freire by unanimous decision in the lightweight tournament finals at Belator 44. In his next fight, Chandler put his name on the MMA world map when he defeated Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 58, which is arguably the greatest and most memorable fight in Bellator history. Chandler would lose to Alvarez in the rematch and then dropped two to Will Brooks (Brooks' contract with the promotion ended in May and despite being at the time the current title holder, Bellator opted not to renew with the 17-1 Illinois native) before righting the ship with back-to-back finishes of Derek Campos and David Rickels, both here in St. Louis in 2015. Freire, out of Brazil, has won three of his last four. This is his first title shot in 15 Bellator appearances.

Sid Gee: "Just a great fight. Could be fight of the night. I don't think this will go the distance. Patricky doesn't back up. Neither are that tall and Patricky may be a little bigger. They both like the flying knee. Wrestling could be a factor. Chandler is world class on the ground. He's a smart fighter that can adjust. If (Chandler) gets up early he may fight conservatively and just try to take it to the ground. I see Patricky having the edge standing and Chandler with the edge on the ground."

Travis Brown: "Since seeing Michael live twice last year and seeing the way he has evolved, it is such a testament to his career. He looks more explosive than he used to be. It seems like he has this unstoppable momentum. I've been a huge fan of the Pitbull brothers for a long time. They were one of the reasons I would tune in to Bellator. This is a pure old-school, been-watching-Bellator-since-day-one kind of fight. I just see more advantages going Chandler's way.

Craig Nasello: "It depends what Patricky shows up. If he can stuff the takedown and put his hands on him then good things will happen. Chandler is super athletic and fights smart but he takes a lot of punishment. He gets hit a lot. Pitbull is a tough dude. I don't know if I see him finished. Don't count out the dark horse that is the Pitbull power. If Patricky is cautious, I see Chandler out-working him and getting a decision. I can see it going to another decision or Chandler going to sleep."

Brett Auten's Prediction: Chandler by head and arm submission, fourth round.

Justin Lawrence (8-3) vs Isao Kobayashi (18-3-4)

Lawrence will meet Kobayashi in the featured preliminary bout. Lawrence had his four-fight win streak come to an end, being on the wrong end of a split decision to Emmanuel Sanchez on Nov. 6 at Bellator 145 in St. Louis. Lawrence (a Pacific native whose dad not only coached him throughout his career but also Dynamite 2 main card competitor Rebecca Ruth) is a UFC veteran and former RFA champion. He made his Bellator debut with a first-round TKO of Sean Wilson at Bellator 138 in St. Louis. A longtime Pancrase veteran, Kobayashi was submitted by Goiti Yamauchi in his first Bellator fight in October, 2015. Kobayashi is 27-years-old.

Matt Frazier: "Justin has some of the best striking in MMA that I've ever seen. I think his striking is just too good and he wins this one by KO."

Brown: "If you watch any of the Asian promotions you find out real quick that their best fighters are under 155. I know (Bellator 145) was an unexpected loss for Justin. I hope he can come in with a focused mind frame. Kobayashi, from what I've seen on video, will not be a walk in the park for Justin. I really like his speed. He won't just sit there and let Justin work his game."

Gee: "Justin's opponent is a tough guy. Japanese fighters have a tendency to be great wrestlers and submission artists. Justin can beat anybody standing up. I thought he was schooling (Sanchez) until he got caught with that one kick at the end of the round."

Auten prediction: Justin Lawrence by split decision.

Kevin Engel (5-0) vs. Chel Erwin-Davis (3-1)

Engel is fresh from a stunning KO over 2-time Bellator winner Kyle Kurtz back in March. Engel, a veteran of over 50 professional fights including kickboxing and boxing, will face Jeff City's Erwin-Davis, who made a splash at Bellator 145 submitting Engel's teammate and training partner Adam Cella.

Rob Donaker: "Chel is more of a kickboxer also. Neither one are too spectacular wrestlers and that's why I thought it would be a great match-up of two strikers. Because of it being Dynamite, I wanted more strikers on the card. Chel TKO'd Cella and Cella is the same type of fighter as Engel. I see it going into at least the second round. They feel each other out in the first round, see if they can find a hole and then go and exploit it."

Frazier: "Erwin-Davis is a bit of an unknown quantity for me, he came in seemingly out of nowhere and submitted Cella at Bellator 145. He's back at Dynamite 2 to take on Cella's teammate Engel, someone with a very similar style to Cella.. With Engel you get a seasoned fighter with high level, technical striking. He's competed in world combat league, on the undercard of major boxing PPVs, and fought all over the US, nerves won't be an issue for him. I don't know anyone if there's anyone locally that its harder than Engel, especially in 4oz gloves. In Engel's fight with Kurtz, the first round you could see Engel feeling out his opponent and the tension started to build in the second round as he started timing his punches before landing the big KO punch. In the fight with Cella, Erwin-Davis was able to absorb some of his best punches and keep coming, he won't be able to do that with Engel. Erwin-Davis will want to get the fight to the ground immediately and work his submission, we haven't see much of Engel off his back, and that's where Erwin-Davis will want to keep him. If Engel is allowed to find his range, and keep the fight standing, it could be a short night for Erwin-Davis."

Gee: "If Engel touches you with that right hand it's lights out. The only way I see him losing is by submission or something on the ground. At 170, his stand up is the best. I don't see anyone touching him."

Auten Prediction: Engel by ground and pound TKO in the third round.

Michelle Royer (1-0) vs Katy Collins (3-1)

Royer was voted 2014 St. Louis MMA Amateur of the Year. She went pro last year with a first round finish victory. Collins went 3-1 in 2015 and hasn't fought since September of that year.

Nasello: "Katy is tough and mean and can take some punches. What Michelle lacks in stand up she makes up for in wrestling. If she takes it to the ground she wins. I can see this fight going either way. It will come down to whoever imposes their will first."

Gee: "This has Fight of the Night potential. They're both really tough and will not back down. They're just going to collide in the middle. Both are kinda new but both are mentally tough."

Brown: "It's fantastic to see Michelle back in the cage. You know she is going to come out in that damn kilt and do some work. Katy has not had as much experience as some of her previous opponents and to me, that proves how formidable of an opponent she it. She has been matched against some of the top in the division. It's a toss up fight."

Auten prediction: Royer by unanimous decision.

Look for Part II in this series on Wednesday.

Tickets for Bellator 157: Dynamite 2, which start at just $30, are on sale now on Ticketmaster.com and at the Ford Box Office at Scottrade Center. Doors for the event open at 5:00 p.m. CT local time, and the first contest takes place shortly after.

Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 airs live on Spike at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT, while preliminary bouts will stream on Spike.com at 7 PM ET.

Full card: (Subject to change)

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (36-11) vs Satoshi Ishii (14-5-1)
Michael Chandler (14-3) vs Pitbull Freire (16-7) - Bellator Lightweight Title
Matt Mitrione (9-5) vs Carl Seumantuafa (10-6)
Kickboxing: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs Justin Houghton (7-2)
Kickboxing: Denise Kieholtz (44-2) vs Gloria Peritore (10-1-1)
Rebecca Ruth (6-1) vs Ilima-Lei Macfarlance (3-0)

Kickboxing: Joe Schilling (19-8) vs Hisaki Kato
Kickboxing: Raymond Daniels (7-3) vs TBA
Kickboxing: Keri Taylor-Melendez (3-1) vs Sarah Howell

Undercard fights:
Jason Christenson (1-0) vs Jarrod Thomas (0-0)
Michelle Royer (1-0) vs Katy Collins (3-1)
Joaquin Buckley (5-0) vs Chris Heatherly (9-3-1)
Jordan Howard (9-3) vs Justin Robbins (14-17-1)
Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs Nikki Smith (1-0)
Kevin Engel (5-0) vs. Chel Erwin-Davis (3-1)
Brad Jones (5-4) vs Tyler Claussen (2-2)
Justin Lawrence (8-3) vs Isao Kobayashi (18-3-4)
Steve Mann (11-4) vs Mike Estus (7-4)
Garrett Mueller (2-1) vs Rashard Lovelace (3-0)
Jordan Dowdy (3-1) vs Guilherme Vasconcelos (7-3)
Lee Burns (2-0) vs. Byron Stevens (0-0)

Kickboxing: Elmir Kulosman (3-0) vs. Darryl Cobb (2-1)
Amateur Kickboxing : Tara Walker (4-3-1) vs. Mimi Kutzin (3-2)

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography

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