Koreshkov faces major test in first defense of Bellator title

Koreshkov faces major test in first defense of Bellator title
Rising MMA star Andrey Koreshkov faces a big night at Bellator 153 on Friday as he makes the first defense of his welterweight title against former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.

The Russian fighter won the belt last July with victory against Douglas Lima, but Henderson represents a significant step up in class.

Henderson joined Bellator earlier this year, having established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world during his time with the UFC.

Koreshkov's fight against Lima was a dour affair, with neither fighter able to make much progress in the clinch or on the ground.

The fight went the distance with Koreshkov eventually taking the title by unanimous decision.

Henderson boasts excellent wrestling and submission skills that have the potential to cause Koreshkov problems. He uses his striking well to set up takedowns and take the fight to the mat.

His switch to Bellator is a big boost for the promotion as they look to challenge the supremacy of the UFC.

The American fighter remains a feared competitor at lightweight and he has the tools to be a major force as a welterweight.

He has two wins over Frankie Edgar on his record, and also defeated Conor McGregor's conqueror, Nate Diaz, back in 2012.

Despite being the more experienced fighter, Henderson says he won't be underestimating Koreshkov.

"This kid is young, he's hungry, he's up-and-coming," he said.

"He's had a loss to a tough wrestler in Ben Askren, so guess what? I can guarantee you he's gotten better in that field; in his defensive wrestling, in his scrambling, he has gotten better.

"He's not the same person he was when he fought Askren, so I'm not taking him lightly."

Koreshkov has lost just once in 18 contests and victory against Henderson would be a major scalp for the Russian fighter.

Bellator 153 takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.