Bellator 216 – Fight Picks

After a fun packed card last night, Bellator again returns to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut for another intriguing round of fights. Many UK fight fans still feel aggrieved that the Daley vs MVP headline bout of this card hasn’t taken place on our shores, but with the new Sky Sports deal kicking off tonight, some of the grumblings have been muted with the days of tape delayed Bellator seemingly behind us.

With Bellator opting for a five-fight main card, fans from around the world will get the opportunity to cast their eyes over some of the new and exciting names in mixed martial arts, peppered in with the staple ‘Legends Tour’ fight that is now part of the Bellator DNA.

Kicking off the main card is the debut of taekwondo’s golden girl, Valerie Loureda (0-0) in a women’s flyweight bout with Colby Fletcher (1-2). In my eyes, this is a bit of a gimme. Fletcher hasn’t fought since 2015, having dropped to consecutive losses prior to her hiatus. There would appear to be a push from the Promotion for the TKD black belt, so there’s no way Loureda should lose this. If she doesn’t TKO Fletcher in the first round, I’d be surprised.

Next on the card is Erick Silva vs Yaroslav Amosov. The Ukranian ‘Dynamo’ is 20-0 as a professional mixed martial artist, with only three of those bouts going the distance. Erick Silva never really lived up to his hype in the UFC, going 7-8 in the promotion. After a brief soirée in LFA, at 34 years of age he’s now in Bellator; but against the unbeaten Sambo killer. I think Silva gets crushed within the first five minutes.

Third on the Sky Sports broadcast will be the return of former Bellator Heavyweight World Champion, Vitaly Minakov in a rematch with French veteran Cheick Kongo (29-10-2). The Russian juggernaut (21-0) seized gold in 2013, crushing Kongo in his first title defence, then returned to his Motherland to run through seven more opponents. The belt laid dormant until Ryan Bader decided to take over the top of the Bellator weight classes, now tonight, the first legitimate challenger to Darth returns to regain his throne. Chieck Kongo is MMA’s answer to Audley Harrison. He looks exactly like a fighter should, but doesn’t often live up to that hype. Minakov to run through Kongo again, quickly.

The co-main event features the fan-friendly ‘Legends Tour’ bout, with Mirko Cro-Cop (37-11-2) standing opposite Roy Nelson (23-16). Someone please tell me, Cro-Cop, he must be 50 year old now, surely? Fighting the 21st century Tank Abbott is a fun fight and a clever piece of matching by Rich Chou, with these veterans throwing thunderbolts as the precursor to the main event. Providing the Croatian kickboxer can stay away from Nelson’s overhand right and utilise his range advantage, it should be a first round KO for the Pride & UFC vet.

And the we get to the main event. The fight that UK MMA fans have wanted for years; Paul Daley vs Michael Page. For me this is a coin toss. The animosity between these two is real. I was stood two rows behind ‘MVP’ at Bellator 179 in May 2017. ‘Semtex’ had just lost his main even bout with Rory McDonald and stepped out of the cage. Like a shot, he made an immediate beeline for Page and ten seconds of madness ensued. None of this was for the cameras, there was real emotion, emotion that’s been percolating for nearly two more years. This fight has all of the hallmarks of being one for the ages. If Mike keeps Paul at range then it’s a bad night for Paul. If Daley gets within striking distance then Mike could get hit like he’s never been hit before. Will MVP change up his game plan to counter the most dangerous opponent he’s faced to date, or will he persist with his risky, but highly entertaining ‘6:30 hands’ style? Daley has the power, MVP has the wider skill set; both have the speed. I’m leaning towards MVP, more because I want to see MVP vs Lima, but I’m not confident enough on this outcome to put money on it.

Who have you got?

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