At Bellator 290 on Saturday the promotion makes its debut on CBS with a short but stacked card. Headlining it will be Ryan Bader defending his heavyweight crown against The Last Emporer Fedor Emelianenko in what will be the final bout in his illustrious career.
Before that bout takes place though, Johnny Eblen will try to defend his newly won middleweight title against Anatoly Tokov. In the case of Tokov, he enters the bout undefeated in the promotion going 7-0 under the Bellator banner. He has just heard the judge’s scorecards twice in the last six years and can find finishes in multiple ways.
To know what type of force Eblen will be facing on Saturday here is your Tokov scouting report.
Stand-Up Offense and Defense
When you watch Anatoly Tokov you notice his clinical approach to striking. Most Russian fighters seemingly are trained in such a fashion but Tokov also can come across as a little tense. He is able to throw clean and powerful combos led by strong straights and jabs that can potentially rock his opponent. Because of those two things, he is able to take control of the cage.
When it comes to his defense, however, despite his strong boxing technique he is prone to sweeping hooks and overhand punches. He can get rocked, even knocked down, but his ability to recover is arguably his best asset.
Grappling Offense and Defense
Never seen Tokov in a position where he needs to show much grappling defense other than avoiding takedowns. In terms of offense though he is your classic Russian grappler who makes transitions look seamless and doesn’t lose control. He is such an excellent grappler he makes getting in the crucifix position look like a standard takedown in terms of difficulty. He will be in a unique spot against Eblen who is a decorated collegiate wrestler, this will be the x-factor area of the whole bout.
On paper, you see out of 31 wins that Tokov has 24 finishes, that didn’t come from fluffed-up matchmaking or lesser competition. It was mentioned that four of his seven wins in Bellator have been finished and before jumping to the promotion he competed in RIZIN, ACB, and M-1 where he fought the best of the best there.
Of his 24 finishes, 17 of them come by way of knockout and seven by submission. He gets in plenty of positions to sink in chokes or joint locks but time and again he proves he just enjoys pounding out his competition.
Summary of Anatoly Tokov
While this matchup may not be getting the hype that Bader and Emelianenko are getting it could steal the show. Eblen thrives on his wrestling ability, he was able to dominate Gegard Mousasi when he won the title but before that, he looked so-so against John Salter.
Looking back on Tokov’s career in Bellator you haven’t seen him in a vulnerable spot outside of getting dropped by Gerald Harris. Even then, he took the worst of Harris and bounced back and scored a knockout against him. His toughness and cardio paired with his unrelenting motor and drive to finish the fight may be the worst thing for Eblen on Saturday.