On Friday September 5, 2014 Bellator MMA returns for season 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. This event will be the official new beginning of an era in Bellator, as former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is now at the helm of the organization.

Coker brings with him years of experience in combat sports and an amazing eye for talent. Some of the brightest stars in the UFC got their start fighting for Coker at Strikeforce, so he also knows how to develop that talent.

Also under Coker’s direction, Bellator will no longer utilize the tournament format and will instead move forward with more traditional matchmaking. Ushering in this new era, Bellator 123 is loaded with great matchups but here are the highlights.

Bobby Lashley

While I wouldn’t call Bobby Lashley a true force in MMA, he brings an excitement and aura to the cage with him. That combined with his incredible professional wrestling following make him a must watch part of any event he is involved in.

With an Adonis-like physique and a world class wrestling pedigree, Lashley is still a very marketable commodity. However, at 38 with a lot of road miles on his body, Lashley isn’t a long term answer for the organization. But he is a great tool for bringing in eyes to see their talented stable of fighters.

King Mo

Muhammed Lawal is a tremendous fighter, but he is an even better hype man. Lawal has something that Bellator needs; raw charisma. Lawal knows how to polarize fans and a polarized fan base tunes in to events.

Lawal has already seen a carousel of various opponents fall out of this bout due to injury, but now he is slated to face talented kickboxer and UFC vet Dustin Jacoby. While he may be a wrestler by trade, Lawal is a crowd pleaser – look for him to take the fight to Jacoby on the feet.

Cheick Kongo vs Lavar Johnson

There are many people who will say that Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson’s best days are behind them and they wouldn’t be wrong. Kongo and Johnson have both seen better days, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a great matchup.

Johnson and Kongo are two of the most dangerous strikers in the heavyweight division and there is little doubt that this fight will end with someone laying flat on the mat. Exciting matchups and knockouts are something fans clamor for, and this fight will deliver on both accounts.

The Rivalry

The reason Bellator 123 should be circled on every fight fan’s calendar is simple; the rivalry. The budding featherweight rivalry between champion Pat Curran and challenger Patricio Freire has the potential to be an all-time great one. Both fighters are supremely talented and both are in the prime of their respective careers.

If there is one things that fans love more than anything else it is a good rivalry. Curran vs Freire has the potential to be a great one and fans should tune in to watch history take place.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.