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Countdown to Bellator 141: Preview

Vinny Craig

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Bellator returns to action on another Friday night. 6 weeks ago we saw the Welterweight title change hands when Andrey Koreshkov beat Douglas Lima. After being guaranteed his release from WSOF, Melvin Guillard was put right into a headlining bout where he will face Brandon Girtz. Let’s see what the rest of the main card looks like!

Rapheal Butler vs. Lorenzo Hood

In the Heavyweight division we have a solid bout between Rapheal Butler (9-1-1 MMA: 4-1-1 BMMA) and Lorenzo Hood (9-2; 0-0). Both guys are always looking for the finish as all 18 of their career wins have come by stoppage with all but one being in the first round.

Butler is a 6 fight Bellator veteran with 4 wins. He made his promotional debut at Bellator 96 with a first round TKO win over Jeremiah O’Neal. After two more first round finishes he had a memorable fight against Nick Rosborrough where the fight ended in a draw at Bellator 119. After that he was handed his first career loss when he was was stopped by a Rear-Naked choke at Bellator 125. He last saw action in February where he got back to the winning column with a first round Standing Guillotine against Josh Diekman.

Hood is making his Bellator debut. He is currently on a three fight win streak and has won 5 of his last 6. The Chicago based fighter has seen all of his fights end in the first round, with all 9 of wins being from strikes. He last fought for Maxximo Fighting Championship in December. As the co-main event, he won his fight via Slam KO.

Justin Wren vs. Josh Burns

JUSTIN WREN IS BACK.. Sorry, got kind of excited. In a Heavyweight match up we have Justin Wren (10-2; 0-0) and Josh Burns (8-8; 0-2). Between the two we have 28 Heavyweight fights , a ton of experience for this division in Bellator.

Wren is a former Ultimate Fighter contestant on Season 10. He was a part of a controversial two round decision with eventual show winner Roy Nelson where many thought the fight should have gone a third round. His only UFC fight came at the Finale in which he lost by Split-decision to Jon Madsen. He won his next three after the UFC with two finishes. His last fight was in 2010 where he had a series of injuries keep him out. He will make his Bellator debut and has signed a five fight deal.

Burns has fallen on tough times. The Dearborn, Michigan based fighter (Michigan represent) has yet to win a Bellator fight in two chances. ‘The Hammer’ is 2-5 in his last 7 with all of those fights ending in a finish. He has clear finishing ability with 5 KO/TKO wins in his career. This fight could be do-or-die for the Michigan Top Team product.

Patricky Freire vs. Saad Awad

A Lightweight fight comes in as your co-main event as Patricky Friere (13-6; 6-4) and Saad Awad (18-6; 6-3) meet in the cage. Both are contenders who will look to move themselves up to get a shot at Lightweight champion Will Brooks. Both are former Lightweight Tournament finalists with neither winning the Tournament.

Freire is the brother of current Featherweight champion Patricio Freire. He last fought in a Lightweight tournament final where he lost to the next title challenger in Marcin Held. That was the second time he has made it to the final with the first being on Season 4. He is 3-1 in his last four with wins over Edson Berto, David Rickels (LW Tournament Quarterfinal) and Derek Campos (LW Tournament Semi-Final). It will be his first fight in 2015.

Awad was a finalist on Season 8 for the Lightweight tournament. He is 10-2 in his last twelve with losses coming from David Rickels (Season 8 Lightweight tournament final) and now Lightweight champion Will Brooks (Season 9 Lightweight tournament Semifinals). He has three wins in a row coming into this fight with a first round TKO over Joe Duarte at Bellator 122. A win here could earn him a title shot or number-one contender fight.

Melvin Guillard vs. Brandon Girtz

The main event is one you wouldn’t have seen coming not too long ago. Melvin Guillard (32-14-2, 2 NC, 0-0) and Brandon Girtz (11-4; 4-2) meet in the Lightweight division. The path for Guillard was different after he was released by the UFC. This is a new common theme for Bellator to have a non-title fight as the main event.

Guillard signed with WSOF after being released from the UFC in March, 2014 and was signed by WSOF less than a month later. He had one fight where he got a TKO win and was put into a Lightweight title fight with Justin Gaethje. He missed weight and the fight was changed to a catchweight bout. He would lose the fight and asked for his release from the organization. He was granted his release and subsequently signed with Bellator. He is making his debut at this event.

Girtz last fought at Bellator 126 where he picked up a TKO win. He is 3-1 in his last four with two Armbar wins. He has missed weight on multiple occasions and has had catchweight bouts. Overall he has been successful in Bellator, but has yet to see success long term.

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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes

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Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.

 

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Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video

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Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193

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Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.

The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.

The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.

It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”

Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.

He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”

Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.

I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”

Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.

I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”

Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.

Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”

With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.

Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”

As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.

Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”

If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.

I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”

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