Bellator's coming out party on Spike's airwaves resumes tonight with Bellator 86, emanating from the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and headlined by a welterweight world title tilt between champion Ben Askren and challenger Karl Amoussou.
The return of Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal tops the undercard which will complete the light heavyweight tournament quarterfinals and kick off the welterweight pairings as well. The main card festivities begin at 10 PM ET on Spike. You can also watch all of the preliminary bouts starting at 8 PM ET right here on MMA on Tap.
After the jump, check out five things that you should watch for during tonight's telecast.
Will Ben Askren smother another victim?
Ten straight opponents have succumbed to Askren's dominating wrestling. Will Karl Amoussou become the next? All signs point to yes, but at some point, something is going to have to give in the development of Askren. He has openly said that he plans to use his wrestling until someone can stop it, and it has publicly come at the expense of his striking skills, of which Askren has noted aren't the biggest priority in his training.
Amoussou has shown that he has the patience and heart to endure a 25-minute battle and a ground game that is good enough to at least give Askren fits. Whether it will be enough to upset Bellator's most dominant champion will be seen later tonight.
Can King Mo carry the LHW tourney?
As a part-time fighter and now part-time wrestler, Lawal's star is rising. At the same time, so is his workload. While he has appeared on TNA television since October, King Mo spent the better part of a nine-month suspension training and preparing for his professional wrestling debut. With Lawal openly admitting that he believes pro wrestling to be more difficult than MMA, one has to wonder how much time Lawal has spent prepping for the cage rather than the squared circle.
The light heavyweight field also leaves a lot to be desired, as his biggest threat, veteran Renato "Babalu" Sobral, has already been eliminated. His plate is already full, but does Mo have room to be the shining star at 205 lbs for Bellator as well?
Is it do-or-die for Ben Saunders?
When Saunders skipped over to Bellator after a 4-3 stint in the UFC, many crowned him an early favorite to win a Bellator welterweight tournament. Since then, two of the tourneys have passed and Saunders has come up short both times, falling to perennial contenders Bryan Baker and Douglas Lima.
Following multiple losses within in the tournament field, Bellator has traditionally released fighters. Such is the case with Toby Imada, Dan Hornbuckle and Jared Hess among others. If Saunders fails to run the three-fight gauntlet this time around, he may be searching for a new home this spring.
Is Marius Zaromskis ready to return to glory?
Zaromskis has struggled since his breakout run to win DREAM's only welterweight grand prix, putting together a 6-4-0-1 record in the years following. Signs of improvement are showing as Zaromskis has won five of his last six bouts, albeit being knocked out by undefeated Andrey Koreshkov in his most recent appearance.
The welterweight field for season 8 is relatively the same as usual sparing a few new faces. Seeing as how Zaromskis has failed well in past tournament formats, will "The Whitemare" be able to channel his 2009 self and make a run for Bellator gold?
Which prospects will break out?
Three touted young guns are scattered among tonight's preliminary card. Hunter Tucker is the latest new face to sprout from Greg Jackson's stable, bringing an undefeated amateur and professional record as well as crafty submission skills to Bellator's featherweight division. He'll debut against local product Javier Obregon.
Raul Amaya will try to use the momentum of a tough performance against Ben Saunders and a summer win over Kenny Moss to ride into his second tourney appearance against another unknown in Jose de Ribamar Machado Gomes. Better known as "Zezao Trator", the Brazilian sports a typical lengthy record fighting on the country circuit, In 40 recorded professional fights, Gomes has 23 finishes.