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Bellator 146 – A Chance for the Women’s Featherweights to Impress

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Bellator roll into Thackerville, Oklahoma on Friday night for Bellator 146. The event is headlined by a clash between middleweight superman-punch-sensation Hisaki Kato and Melvin Manhoef. While that bout could have future title implications for the winner, there are two fights on the prelims that will help shape the future of another division.

Powerful Australian Arlene Blencowe faces Gabby Holloway, while featherweight standout Julia Budd tests herself against Brazilian prospect Roberta Paim Rovel. Three of the women are already in the top ten at 145 pounds. Rovel would also slingshot herself into the rankings with a win this weekend.

It is a big night for all four women, in very different ways, and a chance for Bellator’s featherweight division to make a statement.

Blencowe (6-5) faced a massive step up in competition at Bellator 141 back in August against Marloes Coenen. On that night, the former Stikeforce bantamweight champion and clear number two featherweight in the world, was too much for Blencowe to handle. The loss snapped a four fight win streak that had seen the Australian stop Invicta FC title challenger Faith Van Duin, and one of the division’s most experienced fighters Adrienna Jenkins.

Sporting one of the best nicknames in MMA, “Angerfist” is a talented boxer with an ever improving ground game. Victory over Holloway on Friday would move her to 2-1 inside the Bellator cage, and give her a second top-ten scalp to add to that of Van Duin. Importantly, it also keeps Blencowe in the hunt for a title shot, with Bellator expected to crown their first women’s featherweight champion some time in 2016.

Gabby Holloway (5-3) took her Bellator debut on only 10 days notice in February. Facing Julia Budd without a full camp was always going to be a tall order, but Holloway managed to take the top-three featherweight the distance before losing by unanimous decision.

Holloway moved back into the division’s top ten with a win away from the Bellator cage, over Andria Wawro in September. Now she will be keen to show what she is really capable of when she faces another highly ranked opponent at Bellator 146.

While Blencowe and Holloway will be looking to move back into contention, and right the wrongs of previous fights when they face off in the cage, Julia Budd (7-2) will have the added pressure on Friday night of knowing she is probably only one win away from being in the first ever Bellator women’s featherweight title fight.

As the clear two and three in the division, Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd were the first two signings announced by Bellator when the weight class was added by the company. They have been on a collision course ever since, with both winning their respective Bellator fights to date. Budd is on a five-fight winning streak, while Coenen has submitted both Annalisa Bucci, and Arlene Blencowe inside the Bellator cage. A title fight between Coenen and Budd in 2016 would be a mouthwatering prospect.

Before that can happen though, Budd has to get past Roberta Paim Rovel (4-0). The Brazilian prospect has perhaps the greatest opportunity of all on Friday. A win over Budd would turn the untested “Crusher” into a major player at 145 pounds. This is a gigantic step up in competition, but Rovel is an accomplished grappler who has shown all round improvement, both physically, and in terms of skill-level in each of her four fights to date.

While the opportunity for each of the four individuals is considerable, there is also a collective chance to prove people wrong.

Main card space for Bellator is limited, and finding the right spots for the right fights is not as easy as it seems. The company has eight divisions that could be considered truly active, with moves also being made to introduce fights at both women’s and men’s flyweight too.

By comparison the UFC have ten active weight classes already. They have run 35 shows so far this year, with six more to come before 2015 is over. Bellator 146 will be only Bellator’s 15th event of the year.

With only so many spots to go around, invariably it has been the women’s featherweights who have missed out since the division was introduced in 2014. Both this weekend’s bouts feature on the preliminary portion of the card, and even Marloes Coenen who is Bellator’s most notable women’s featherweight star, only found her way onto the Bellator 141 main card when a bout between Raphael Butler and Lorenzo Hood was cancelled last minute.

Bellator 146 on Friday is a chance for four talented fighters to impress in a way that forces the company to invest in the division. That means pushing for more fights, and as importantly, more fights in front of big television audiences on Spike.

If Bellator are to crown their first women’s featherweight champion in 2016, giving fans a reason to care about the division is going to be key. Two exciting fights on Friday would be a big step towards making that happen.

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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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Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.

This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.

Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK

  • 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- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK

  • 195 lb. 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 (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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