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Three things to watch at Bellator 257



The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix has some of the most interesting storylines in MMA this month, and the tournament continues Friday at Bellator 257 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov will defend his title against the always tough Phil Davis in the main event. That bout will double as a first-round matchup in the Grand Prix. The co-main event will be another tournament first-round fight, pitting former UFC contender Corey Anderson against the debuting former ACA champion Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

Last week, the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix kicked off with former champion Ryan Bader beating legend Lyoto Machida in the first round. After Friday, the tournament semifinals will have taken shape and there might even be a new Bellator champion to boot.

Here’s what’s at stake in those tournament matchups, as well as other important bouts on the card:

Can Nemkov establish himself as one of the truly elite light heavyweights in the world?

The newly crowned Bellator light heavyweight champion has a historically difficult road ahead of him. Nemkov, a protégé of the great Fedor Emelianenko, knocked out Bader last August to win the title. Now, he must defend the belt in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix, beginning with Davis in the first round.

Davis gave Nemkov perhaps the toughest fight of his career in November 2018. Nemkov won a split decision, but many people thought Davis was the true victor. Nemkov is an excellent, versatile striker with stopping power, but anyone who has seen Davis — going back to his UFC days — knows he is an oppressive wrestler who will have a size advantage.

If Nemkov, 28, does get by Davis, it won’t get any easier. He’ll face the winner of a first-round matchup between former UFC title contenders Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Yoel Romero. That’s quite the challenge for any young champion. But if Nemkov does make it through to win this tournament, there will be no denying that he is among the best light heavyweight fighters in the world — in any organization.

What can we expect from Anderson in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix first round?

In his Bellator debut in November, Anderson expectedly ran through veteran Melvin Manhoef via second-round TKO. It was a clear showcase fight, a way to get the Bellator audience familiar with Anderson and his ability. On top of that, Anderson was coming off a knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz (now the UFC champion), so it doubled as a tuneup to get his confidence back. The level of competition gets steeper now as Anderson will face the unknown member of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix in the first round: Yagshimuradov.

Anderson is an accomplished wrestler who also showed off some knockout power in the UFC. It’s easy to forget that Anderson had won four in a row and was on the cusp of a UFC light heavyweight title shot before the Blachowicz loss. Yagshimuradov, a Turkmenistan native, brings a wrestling pedigree of his own into his Bellator debut. He’s the former ACA light heavyweight champion, and the competition is far from easy in the Russia-based promotion.

This should be a legitimate test for Anderson, and the winner will get Bader in the semifinals.

Which surging veteran will creep closer to a title shot?

The always exciting British knockout artist Paul Daley will finally take on UFC veteran Sabah Homasi at Bellator 257 after the bout previously fell apart twice. Daley has won two straight, while Homasi has won four in a row. Homasi’s coaches at American Top Team are very high on his potential, and a win over Daley would be one of the biggest of his career. The winner would creep closer to a title shot against dominant champion Douglas Lima.

In addition to that matchup, former Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd will try to win her second in a row after dropping the belt in January 2020 to Cris Cyborg. Budd will face Dayana Silva, who boasts a 9-5 record and will be making her Bellator debut. Budd, still one of the best women’s 145-pound fighters in the world, would be very much in the title mix with a victory.

Bellator 257 also features the promotional debut of Swedish submission specialist Mads Burnell, who has won five in a row after being released by the UFC in 2018. It’ll be a difficult first Bellator fight for Burnell, against The Ultimate Fighter veteran Saul Rogers.

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BELLATOR MMA Confirms Full Fight Card for BELLATOR 259 on SHOWTIME Next Friday, May 21 at 9 pm ET – My MMA



BELLATOR MMA has confirmed the full fight card for BELLATOR MMA 259: Cyborg vs. Smith 2 this Friday, May 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena. The event caps off an exciting month of action for BELLATOR, and airs LIVE on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

With plans to continue her dominance over the women’s featherweight division, Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) will put her world championship on the line against No. 4 ranked featherweight Leslie Smith (12-8-1) in a rematch to crown the world’s top 145-pound female athlete.

The BELLATOR MMA 259 main card on SHOWTIME is loaded from top to bottom, including former bantamweight champion Darion Caldwell (15-4) rematching No. 6 ranked bantamweight Leandro Higo (20-5) in a 135-pound contest, a top-five middleweight clash between the undefeated No. 3 ranked Austin Vanderford (10-0) and No. 4 ranked Fabian Edwards (9-1), and a welterweight matchup that will see the streaking Jaleel Willis (14-2) face off against former LFA champion Maycon Mendonca (11-4), who’ll be making his promotional debut. Capping off the main card action will be the undefeated Jackson Wink-product and No. 9 ranked light heavyweight Christian Edwards (4-0) challenging Mississippi’s Ben Parrish (4-1).

As part of the launch of BELLATOR MMA on SHOWTIME, the network is offering viewers who are new to the SHOWTIME streaming service a 30-day free trial, followed by a discounted monthly subscription fee of $4.99/month for the next six months. Viewers can sign up at Subscribers will be delivered two premier BELLATOR MMA events per month throughout 2021 and beyond, with all events scheduled to air live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT anywhere the SHOWTIME service is available.

The nine-fight preliminary card has no shortage of action-packed bouts, featuring a top-10 light heavyweight matchup between No. 7 ranked Grant Neal (5-0) and No. 8 ranked Tyree Fortune (5-0) and the return of Israeli lightweight superstar Aviv Gozali (5-0), as he looks to add to his five first round finishes and record breaking 11-second submission win. Plus, the charismatic No. 8 ranked women’s flyweight Valerie Loureda (3-0), the always-exciting Saad Awad (23-13, 1 NC), and No. 6 ranked Australian featherweight Janay Harding (6-4), who takes on No. 7 ranked Irish sensation Leah McCourt (4-1). Finally, No. 9 ranked lightweight Alfie Davis (14-3) makes his sixth promotional appearance against BELLATOR newcomer Alexander Shabliy (19-3).

All prelims will stream live at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT on the BELLATOR MMA YouTube channel, SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and Pluto TV. Full bout listings are below:

BELLATOR MMA 259: Cyborg vs. Smith 2 Main Card:


9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT


Featherweight World Title Main Event: c-Cris Cyborg (23-2, 1 NC) vs. #4-Leslie Smith (12-8-1)

Bantamweight Co-Main Event: Darrion Caldwell (15-4) vs. #6-Leandro Higo (20-5)

Middleweight Bout: #3-Austin Vanderford (10-0) vs. #4-Fabian Edwards (9-1)

Welterweight Bout: Jaleel Willis (14-2) vs. Maycon Mendonca (11-4)

Light Heavyweight Bout: #9-Christian Edwards (4-0) vs. Ben Parrish (4-1)

 Preliminary Card: 

BELLATOR MMA YouTube Channel | SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel | Pluto TV

5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT

Lightweight Bout: Saad Awad (23-13, 1 NC) vs. Nate Andrews (16-3)

Light Heavyweight Bout: #7-Grant Neal (5-0) vs. #8-Tyree Fortune (5-0)

Flyweight Bout: Sumiko Inaba (1-0) vs. Kristina Katsikis (1-1)

Lightweight Bout: Aviv Gozali (5-0) vs. Sean Felton (5-2-1)

Flyweight Bout: #8-Valerie Loureda (3-0) vs. Hannah Guy (2-1)

Heavyweight Bout: Davion Franklin (2-0) vs. Tyler King (12-9)

Featherweight Bout: #6-Janay Harding (6-4) vs. #7-Leah McCourt (4-1)

Lightweight Bout: #9-Alfie Davis (14-3) vs. Alexander Shabliy (19-3)

*Card subject to change.

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Paul Daley vs. Jason Jackson set for Bellator 260 co-main event – MMA Fighting



Paul Daley isn’t done with the sport of mixed martial arts just yet.

Promotional officials announced on Wednesday that Daley will face Jason Jackson in the co-main event of Bellator 260 at a catchweight at 175 pounds. The fight card takes place June 11 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. and will air on Showtime.

“Semtex” will make the walk less than two months after his thrilling Fight of the Year contender against Sabah Homasi at Bellator 257, where Daley earned a second-round finish. After dropping three of four to Michael Page, Jon Fitch and Rory MacDonald, the 62-fight veteran has won three straight, which includes a decision win over Erick Silva and a second-round TKO of Saad Awad.

Jackson has won his last four fights after dropping a controversial split decision to Ed Ruth in the start of his current run with Bellator. “The Ass-Kicking Machine” bounced back with wins over Klichi Kunimoto, Jordan Mein, Benson Henderson and Neiman Gracie to land him at No. 3 in the current promotional rankings at 170 pounds.

Bellator 260 will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Douglas Lima and Yaroslav Amosov.

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Is the LW division in Bellator the only



I didn’t say anyone from this list can beat all 10 ranked guys

If they make 10 fights head to head and choose the matches carefully, I can see the unranked fighters beating them 10-0. For example the two weakest fighters from my list against Moret or Queally (I think they can beat them), then put Khabilov against Piccolotti, there you go another win :D Usman can beat Jury, Mamedov can beat Outlaw etc etc

Shabliy will prove it against the ranked Alfie :D

If they did the opposite and choose the good matchups for the ranked guys against the unranked, I really can’t see it going 10-0 for them. The unranked guys are better, imo.

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