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Anastasia Yankova Looks For Second Bellator Win in U.S. Debut

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Bellator returns to the Lone Star state for the first time since Gracie vs Shamrock III came to Houston earlier this year. That event still holds the Bellator attendance record of 13,209 and boasted millions of television viewers during a lackluster affair, perhaps the worst fight of all-time, between Kimbo Slice (R.I.P) and Dhafir Harris aka Dada 5000.

On September 16th Bellator 161 takes place in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park, featuring a heavyweight main event between UFC veteran Cheick Kongo and former King of The Cage Heavyweight Champion Tony Johnson.

The main card also includes a notable Women’s Flyweight contest with undefeated Anastasia Yankova (3-0) making her United States debut against Veta Arteaga (2-0). The 25-year-old Russian prospect spoke with MMA Latest just days before she was due to head to the great state of Texas for her 2nd fight in a 4-fight Bellator contract.

“I will fly to Texas on Tuesday [13 September 2016]. I’ve been in the U.S. for about 3 weeks, and I finished my training camp here [at AKA, American Kickboxing Academy; San Jose, CA].” The young beauty from Moscow calls Thailand home these days where she trains at AKA Thailand under the coaching of UFC veteran Mike Swick so the transition to the original AKA location in California is a natural one.

“This is not the first time I have trained at AKA before I trained at AKA Thailand. Javier Mendez used to come over there, so I got to know him there. This time, I wanted to come here, to the U.S. to finish my camp because the fight is in the U.S.,” she explained to MMA Latest News. “AKA is the same here and in Thailand. They have the same structure and the same approach so it’s basically an extension of what I’m already doing in Thailand.”

According to Yankova’s Tapology page, she is considered a kickboxer first and foremost, and her 9-2 pro kickboxing record substantiates her identity as a striker. The fact that all 3 of her professional MMA fights have resulted in victory by submission demonstrates her complete skill-set, an attribute seldom found in fighters so early in their career.

Asked about her preferred method of victory, Yankova told MMA Latest, “I like to surprise people. When my opponents are expecting me to stand and trade I like taking the fight to the ground and finishing with a submission. But the most important thing is to win so I will do so anyway I can.”

Bellator 161 airs on Spike TV and MMA Latest News will be on the scene providing up to the minute coverage of the entire event. Be sure to follow us on @MMALATESTNWS and download the MMA Latest News app for your smartphone or tablet.

Be sure to follow us on @MMALATESTNWS and download the MMA Latest News app for your smartphone or tablet.

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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