The move from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Bellator MMA has not yet yielded the return for which Lorenz Larkin had hoped.
The Millennia MMA representative takes aim at Fernando Gonzalez in the Bellator 193 headliner on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, where he will attempt to snap a two-fight losing streak. Contested at a 180-pound catchweight, their three-round clash serves as the main course for an event that airs live on Paramount (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT).
Larkin, 31, last competed at Bellator 183 on Sept. 24, when he was on the receiving end of a second-round knockout from Paul Daley. The Riverside, California, native compiled a 5-5 record during a 10-fight stint in the UFC, where he recorded wins over Elevation Fight Team’s Neil Magny, American Top Team stablemates Jorge Masvidal and Santiago Ponzinibbio, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 alum Chris Camozzi and former Ring of Combat champion John Howard. Larkin has delivered 11 of his 18 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout.
A World Extreme Cagefighting, King of the Cage and Strikeforce veteran, Gonzalez has rattled off seven wins in eight appearances, a contentious split decision defeat to the unbeaten Michael Page his only misstep. The 34-year-old last fought on Aug. 25, when he submitted Brennan Ward with a guillotine choke in the third round of their encounter at Bellator 182. Victories over Gilbert Smith, Marius Zaromskis, Karo Parisyan and recent UFC signee Curtis Millender highlight the extensive Gonzalez resume.
The Larkin-Gonzalez showdown is but one must-see attraction on the Bellator 193 lineup. Here are four more:
A staple of Bellator’s lightweight division for the better part of five years, Awad will square off with Ambrose in the co-headliner. The Millennia MMA export carries a modest two-fight winning streak into the cage, having beaten Ryan Quinn and Zach Freeman in back-to-back outings. Awad has a well-established reputation as a potent finisher, with 16 of his 21 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Meanwhile, Ambrose returns to Bellator for the first time since 2013. The 30-year-old Pacific Xtreme Combat champion last appeared at a Hex Fight Series show on June 23, when he extended his run of consecutive wins to five with a unanimous decision over Ben Wall. Ambrose sports 17 submissions among his 28 professional victories, eight of them by guillotine choke.
Bellator has big plans for Fortune, one of the top heavyweight prospects in the sport. An acclaimed amateur wrestler, he was a two-time state champion in high school, captured a pair of national titles at Clackamas Community College and an NCAA championship at Grand Canyon University -- a Division II school in Phoenix -- before failing to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Fortune, 27, trains out of the Arizona Combat Sports camp and has touched off his mixed martial arts career with three straight wins. The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Hernandez enters his organizational debut on the heels of consecutive knockout losses to Josh Appelt and Jared Vanderaa.
Kozola must show he can handle adversity, as he finds himself on the rebound for the first time following a unanimous decision defeat to the unbeaten Carrington Banks at Bellator 184 in October. The Team Quest and Oceanside Jiu-Jitsu prospect holds the rank of black belt in taekwondo and continues to optimize his skills in the cage. Kozola, 28, has secured all eight of his wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, five of them inside one round. The Naperville, Illinois, native owns a 3-1 record in Bellator, his loss to Banks offset by wins over Jonathan Rivera, Ian Butler and Jake Roberts. Smith operates out of a Gracie Barra affiliate in Portland, Oregon. The 26-year-old last competed under the King of the Cage banner on May 27, when he took a split decision from Scotty Hao.
While time remains on his side, Lawrence has not yet fulfilled the lofty expectations that were set for him when he competed on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and then knocked out John Cofer with a head kick in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2012. Still just 27 years old, the former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion has alternated wins and losses in five appearances under the Bellator flag. Lawrence has not fought since he prompted a second-round doctor stoppage against Treston Thomison at Bellator 181. Natividad, 27, has fallen below the .500 mark with losses in six of his past eight bouts. The King of the Cage and Tachi Palace Fights veteran represents the Escondido Fight Club in Escondido, California.