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Bellator Confirm Women’s Flyweight Title and Six New Signings

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Women's Flyweights Letourneau

Following reports surfacing that Bellator MMA had signed Valerie Letourneau earlier this week, the promotion officially announced the signing of six women’s flyweights on Friday.

Along with Letourneau, Bellator have also added Alejandra Lara, Sabriye Şengül, Kristi Lopez, Na Liang and Juliana Velasquez. Per the press release, all have signed multi-fight contracts and will compete as part of Bellator’s growing women’s flyweight division.

The promotion have also ended speculation as to whether a championship belt will be up for grabs at 125 pounds. Bellator expects to have an inaugural women’s flyweight champion crowned before the end of 2017.

The new signings join a roster that already includes emerging standouts Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Emily Ducote, as well as experienced veterans Colleen Schneider and Lena Ovchynnikova.

“2017 has been a big year for us in terms of bringing in marquee free agents that can have an immediate impact on their division,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “This group of flyweight signings demonstrates that we’re committed to that throughout our roster, as we’re adding even more depth to an already-competitive weight class. We’re adding a proven title contender, along with a group of prospects from all around the globe, and we look forward to putting on great fights and displaying the talent this division has to offer.”

Now the race for a spot in the eventual title bout is on, with unbeaten Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at the top of the pack. Five of the Hawaiian’s six career wins have come inside the Bellator cage, including a particularly impressive decision victory against Emily Ducote in December last year.

Macfarlane will face increased pressure at the top end of the division. Valerie Letourneau has fought for a UFC title in the past and is the most accomplished of the new additions, but she is not the only fighter capable of earning a title shot.

Alejandra Lara is a training partner of Alexa Grasso and Irene Aldana and boasts an impressive 6-1 professional record. Her only defeat came against prodigious talent Sabina Mazo in 2015.

Na Liang is one of a number of surging Chinese prospects, and has finished all six of her professional contests inside the distance. Her December 2016 first round submission of then undefeated Barbara Nalepka is of particular note.

Brazilian Juliana Velasquez has been fighting at bantamweight, but has won all five of her pro outings. Velasquez holds wins over experienced campaigners Rosy Duarte and Elaine Albuquerque.

No official debut bouts have been announced for any of the super six signings, but we should expect to see the majority of them inside the Bellator cage by late Summer 2017.

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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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