Bellator is going to need young talent to continue to step up in order to make waves in the MMA landscape and these are five fighters ready to make that move.
Bellator is a young company compared to the UFC, though in the history of American MMA, it’s had arguably the second-best showing to date. In business for over a decade, Bellator has relied on a unique blend of former stars from other current and bygone companies and hand-picked, homegrown stars. Recently Bellator has lured some high profile big names away from the UFC, but as those deals wind down and others leave, it’s important to make sure that Bellator continues to develop top-quality talent to replace any potential departures.
Developing and curating new stars is the end game and Bellator has a few names who are ready to ascend to that next stage in their career. Before we get to the top five names, two quick honorable mentions.
When the heavyweight god Fedor Emelianenko takes you under his wing as a student, you’re going to be great (hopefully). So keep an eye out for Emelianenko’s prize pupil, Valentin Moldavsky, a heavyweight fighter who’s arguably a top-five heavyweight in Bellator already. Next, Jake Hager. Why? Because if he wins a title, then the MMA will burn itself down in confusion and outrage. Gotta love a little anarchy.
Patrick Mix (bantamweight)
Patrick Mix is 12-0, with his last three wins coming in Bellator. At only 26 years old, he’s yet to hit his prime and is on a shortlist for possible bantamweight title opportunities moving forward. With former champion Kyoji Horiguchi having vacated the championship and Darrion Caldwell involved in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, Mix is now the top guy in the division by many accounts. A possible fight for the vacant title or involvement in a possible Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix might be in his future.
Michael ‘Venom’ Page (welterweight)
Many don’t see Michael ‘Venom’ Page (or MVP) as a top guy due to a lot of his fights being one-sided and against less-known talent. Page, however, has only lost once in his whole MMA career and that was to Douglas Lima, a Bellator/MMA all-time great. Page has a lot of upsides and has shown against Shinsho Anzai and Paul Daley that he’s capable of taking on tougher opponents. A possible rematch with Lima is a possiblity.
Anatoly Tokov (middleweight)
Russain born Anatoly Tokov has been smashing his way through Bellator competition since arriving. At 5-0 in Bellator, Tokov is arguably the number one contender middleweight and with his finish rate, youth, and terrifying blend of size and strength, Tokov is as close to a lock to be champion as you can be in MMA. He should get the winner of the Lima-Gegard Mousasi middleweight championship fight.
Vadim Nemkov (light heavyweight)
To borrow a line from John Casey of Chuck fame, “Russians. So many Russians.” Vadim Nemkov represents what could be a banner year for Russain MMA in Bellator, as anywhere from three to five men could wind up as champion. Arguably the most likely is Nemkov. His only two losses are to fellow Bellator fighter Karl Albrektsson and former Rizin top guy/new UFC signee Jiri Prochazka. Since then he’s strung together six wins, three over some of Bellator’s best at light heavyweight. Nemkov could be the one who dethrones light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader.
Arlene Blencowe (women’s featherweight)
The Women’s Featherweight division may be all but forgotten in the UFC, but in Bellator, it’s the deepest division for the women. Arlene Blencowe is looking up at the two greatest female featherweights of all time, Julia Budd and Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino. Blencow, however, is a monster. A rare featherweight with genuine knockout power, Blencowe is arguably third in Bellator’s featherweight rankings and is only a snap second from knocking out whoever the would-be titleholder is. Whether it’s current champion Justino, former champion Budd, or someone else. Blencowe has been with Bellator for some time, and a title win would be well deserved.
Covington vs Woodley – UFC Fight Night 178: Free live stream, UK start time, how to watch and full fight card
Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley go head-to-head in the main event of UFC Fight Night 178 this weekend.
This will be final event before the world of UFC heads back to Abu Dhabi for a host of major fights.
Covington lost his last bout to Kamaru Usman at UFC 245 in December 2019.
Woodley, meanwhile, has suffered back-to-back defeats recently, losing to Gilbert Burns in May.
Both fighters will be eager to get their careers back on track this weekend.
Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will be on the undercard as he looks to hit back from four straight defeats against Niko Price.
UFC Fight Night 178: Date and start time
The event is scheduled to take place in the early hours of Sunday, September 19 for UK fans and will be held behind closed doors.
The preliminary card begins at 11pm on Saturday night UK time. The main card starts around 1am with Overeem and Sakai expected to start at 4am.
The event is being held at the UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas.ttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.410.0_en.html#goog_1983551844Play VideoEddie Hearn doesn’t think that he could promote Conor McGregor even if he is retired from UFC
UFC Fight Night 178: TV and live stream
BT Sport 1 will broadcast the event with their coverage of the prelims starting at 11pm on Saturday. Their main show starts at 1am on Sunday ahead of Covington vs. Woodley.
The show will be live streamed on BT Sport’s website and app.
The early prelims will be shown on UFC’s Fight Pass for subscribers as normal.
In the US, all prelim bouts will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ in English and Spanish.
How can I watch Fight Night for FREE?
EE mobile customers can get a FREE three-month trial of BT Sport by texting SPORT to 150.
You can then cancel the trial at any time.
UFC Fight Night 176: Fight card
Main card (BT Sport 1, 1am Sunday)
- Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley, Welterweight Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price, Welterweight
- Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gerald Meerschaert, Middleweight
- Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann, Light Heavyweight
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos, Women’s Strawweight
- Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart, Middleweight
Preliminary Card (BT Sport 1, 11pm Saturday)
- Mirsad Bektic vs. Luiz Garagorri, Featherweight
- Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Mara Romero Borella, Women’s Flyweight
- Jordan Espinosa vs. David Dvorak, Flyweight
- Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Sarah Alpar, Women’s Bantamweight
- Journey Newson vs. Randy Costa, Bantamweight
- Andre Ewell vs. Irwin Rivera, Bantamweight
- Darrick Minner vs. T.J. Laramie, Featherweight
UFC Fight Night 176: What has been said?
Woodley has warned Covington he is willing to hurt him illegally when the pair finally this weekend.
The welterweight clash is years in the making, with the two men first linked to one another when Woodley was champion in 2018.
Both men accused the other of rejecting the chance to make the fight, but the talking finally stops on September 19 at the UFC Apex.
However, ‘The Chosen One’ has taken the trash talking to the next level, by suggesting he will strike Covington in the groin if needs be.
“I agree with you, I will let my hands go,” Woodley said. “You guys and you fans telling me ‘let your hands go, let your hands go,’
“I need to let them go. You have that, you have my word I will let these hands go.
“I’ll let them go upside his head, body. I might even punch in the sack for the warning, bap. I will take the warning or even the point deduction, I feel good guys.”
Here’s all the fights in discussion for the proposed May 9 UFC event
The UFC is intending to return on May 9, and here are all the fights that look to be happening on that card.
About a week after UFC 249 and all future UFC cards were deemed postponed, the UFC is attempting to end its forced hiatus quickly with a card on May 9 at a location still to be determined.
Per a report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC president Dana White has stated the promotion is looking to return on May 9 and get back on schedule.
Despite the global coronavirus pandemic forcing an empty arena for UFC Brasilia last month, as well as the scraping of UFC London, UFC Columbus and UFC Portland, White and company looked to continue on holding events — including events such as UFC 249 and UFC 250, the latter of which was originally scheduled for May 9, to be hosted at the Tachi Palace in Lemoore, CA.
White was eventually asked to stand down by the heads of Disney and ESPN (ESPN, the UFC’s broadcaster, is a Disney property).
Proposed fights for the May 9 card include the following:
Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje (interim UFC lightweight championship)
As the classic tale has gone, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were booked to face one another at UFC 249 before things fell apart: UFC 249 was forced out of Brooklyn and then Nurmagomedov got stuck in Russia on lockdown before the whole event was postponed thanks to the coronavirus.
Before the event’s postponement, however, an interim championship bout between Ferguson and Justin Gaethje was announced as the new main event. Ferguson has won 12 straight, and with a win, he will become the first UFC fighter to win interim gold twice in the promotion. Gaethje, currently ranked No. 4 at lightweight, has won three straight in the first round and has earned post-fight bonuses in each of his six Octagon bouts so far.
Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer (UFC women’s featherweight championship)
Before UFC 250’s postponement, Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer was scheduled to serve as the co-main event of UFC 250.
Nunes has won 10 straight, winning the UFC women’s bantamweight championship at UFC 200 and defending it five times thus far. This, however, marks her first defense of the UFC women’s featherweight title since scoring a shocking, first-round knockout of Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 to become the first female champ-champ in UFC history.
Spencer, the former Invicta featherweight champion, got an upset first-round submission of Megan Anderson in her Octagon debut last year before going the distance in a loss to Cyborg. She successfully returned at UFC Norfolk in February, finishing Zarah Fairn Dos Santos in the first round of their bout.
Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC bantamweight championship)
Henry Cejudo vs. Jose Aldo was the originally booked main event for UFC 250, but Aldo was forced off the card when the event was moved from Brazil. On that same day, Dominick Cruz was reported to be Aldo’s replacement.
This will mark Cejudo’s first defense of the UFC bantamweight championship since winning it last year at UFC 238 to become the fourth champ-champ in UFC history.
Cruz came over to the UFC from the WEC as bantamweight champion, but after 2011, several injuries and surgeries forced him to vacate the UFC title in early 2014. Cruz successfully regained the championship against TJ Dillashaw in January 2016 and retained it against Urijah Faber at UFC 199 before losing to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Another string of injuries has forced Cruz to the sidelines again since the Garbrandt loss.
Francis Ngannou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Francis Ngannnou vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, a bout of heavyweight contenders, was originally booked for the main event of UFC Columbus on March 28. When that event was canceled, it was scheduled to be the televised prelim headliner for UFC 249 before that event was postponed.
Ngannou was a quickly rising star in the heavyweight division before losing a title shot against Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 and competing in one of the worst bouts in UFC history at UFC 226 against Derrick Lewis. Since then, however, he’s bounced back with three straight first-round knockouts, defeating Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
Rozenstruik made his UFC debut in 2019 and earned his way to being FanSided MMA’s Rookie of the Year. After disposing Junior Albini, Rozenstruik knocked out Allen Crowder in six seconds before taking out Andrei Arlovski at New York’s Madison Square Garden at UFC 244. He then competed on short notice against Alistair Overeem and was seconds away from losing before delivering a last-second, come-from-behind knockout to stay undefeated.
Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
After announcing White’s statement and the four previously potential fights, Okamoto added that a welterweight bout between fan-favorites Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis has been verbally agreed to.
Cerrone returned to the lightweight division in 2019 and scored wins over Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta before suffering TKO losses to Ferguson and Gaethje. He then returned to 170 to face Conor McGregor in the Irish superstar’s return at UFC 246, losing in 40 seconds by TKO.
Pettis, the former UFC lightweight champion, had a successful welterweight debut against Stephen Thompson last year before a loss to Nate Diaz in his return at UFC 241. Pettis also competed at UFC 246, getting submitted by Carlos Diego Ferreira in a lightweight bout.
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What are the odds the UFC returns to action on May 9?
The UFC may return sooner than originally anticipated, with president Dana White currently building a massive card for May 9.
UFC president Dana White is not backing down anytime soon. White announced that they are looking for the fighters to return to action, with May 9 being the current target date. Although no location has been confirmed, there are very few options at this point considering the Coronavirus has states on lockdown, as well as large gatherings banned from occurring.
The proposed card at this time is extremely solid, and would be spearheaded by three massive fights. According to tweets from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje will look to meet after UFC 249’s cancellation last week, with bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo taking on former titleholder Dominick Cruz. Cruz has not fought since December of 2016. Cejudo was originally scheduled to take on Jose Aldo at UFC 250 in Brazil.
Another title fight would see double-champ Amanda Nunes return to featherweight to face top contender Felicia Spencer.
A new addition to the previously made matches would be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at 170 lbs. The fight has been agreed to and will take place on May 9 should the event actually take place.
Listed below are the odds that the UFC will return on May 9, 2020.
Betting odds are courtesy of Bovada. Odds listed below reflect the lines at the time of publication of this article and are subject to change.
For those unfamiliar with betting odds, “No” is currently the favorite at -450, with “Yes” being the underdog at +275.
This announcement comes not long after the WWE was considered an “essential business” by the Florida Governor’s office. After a failed attempt at hosting UFC 249 in California earlier last week, it would seem the next logical step would be to see if the state of Florida is a viable location to host events. UFC 249 was scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 18 from the Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA, but was canceled after top executives at Disney told Dana White to “stand down”.
With the stay at home orders still in effect for the foreseeable future, it seems the odds provided by Bovada accurately reflect the current situation. However, don’t be surprised if the odds for “Yes” start creeping down from +275. If the WWE and UFC are successful, expect other sporting organizations to make their way down to the sunshine state in the near future.
Although the UFC’s target date is May 9, no location has been confirmed yet.