Bellator’s brand of MMA is providing a solid card, rich with talent deep into the usually shallow prelims, as this Friday’s Bellator 182 is chalked full of quality fighters. The main event will witness 2 rangy strikers duking it out, to find out who will be chomping at the bit for a shot at Bellator’s welterweight title, as former champion Andrey Koreshkov meets Chidi Njokuani. The co-headliner for the evening will see the all-action Brennan Ward squaring off with the ever tough Fernando Gonzalez. Tune in to the Bellator 182 main card on Spike TV, Friday night at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 8:00 P.M. ET.
Main Card: 9:00 PM ET on Spike TV
Andrey Koreshkov (19-2 MMA; 10-2 Bellator) vs. Chidi Njokuani (17-4 MMA; 4-0 Bellator): Welterweight
Andrey Koreshkov is returning to action following a devastating loss to Douglas Lima in the welterweight championship rematch at Bellator 174. Before his KO loss to Lima, Koreshkov reeled off 6-straight wins, including his initial match with Lima, and a dominant victory over Ben Henderson at Bellator 153. Under the tutelage of Bellator veteran Alexander Shlemenko, Koreshkov is looking to get back into the win column, and start his march back to the title. Can Koreshkov impose his will on the rangy Njokuani, and set himself on a path towards a rubber match with Lima?
The 17-4 Chidi Njokuani, younger brother of MMA veteran Anthony Njokuani, is on a 7-fight winning streak, including each of his 4 Bellator appearances. Following an impressive body kick to ground and pound TKO of Thiago Jambo at Bellator 156, Njokuani annihilated Andre Fialho in just :21, as he dropped his foe with a jab of all things, and then followed up with hellacious ground and pound to seal the deal. Njokuani’s latest victim was also his largest name to date, as he picked up a unanimous decision over Melvin Guillard in the main event of Bellator 171. Njokuani has shown he is a dangerous threat both on the feet, and with his ground strikes, but will it be enough to topple his toughest opposition, at least on paper, to date?
Brennan Ward (14-5 MMA; 9-5 Bellator) vs. Fernando Gonzalez 26-14 MMA; 6-1 Bellator): Welterweight
Brennan Ward is returning to action following a traumatic flying knee knockout that he suffered at the hands, or knees rather, of Paul Daley at Bellator 170. Ward is a live by the sword, die by the sword kind of guy, who has only seen a decision once in his professional MMA career, for better or worse, and that was over half a decade ago. Ward has had 7-straight Bellator bouts end inside of the 1st round, and will be facing someone in Gonzalez who has seen a third round in 6 of his 7 Bellator fights. Can Ward prevent Gonzalez from dragging this tilt into deeper water, or will we witness another insane 1st round finish?
This will be back-to-back catchweight fights for Gonzalez, as his Bellator 174 win over Brandon Girtz took place at 174 pounds, and this fight with Ward will be at 178 pounds. Why? Well, not everyone can easily fit the mold of welterweight or middleweight, as the cut to 170 may be too drastic, and an athlete could be too small to climb to 185. The same sort of scenario can be found in various weight divisions where the next class is more than a 10 pound difference. Gonzalez has amassed a quiet 6-1 record inside of the Bellator promotion, but is technically searching for consistency as he has alternated wins and losses in past 4 fights, including his decision loss to Paul Daley in a Bellator 142 kickboxing bout. Can Gonzalez pick up a win over a dangerous finisher in Ward, and move to an impressive 7-1 Bellator record, and at what weight will his next bout be at?
AJ McKee Jr. (8-0 MMA; 8-0 Bellator) vs. Blair Tugman (10-6 MMA; 5-2 Bellator): Featherweight
Top featherweight prospect AJ McKee has been flawless thus far in his young 8-0 career, and is heavily favored (-1500) to remain so against the gritty wrestler in Tugman (+1200). McKee made a statement in his last outing at Bellator 178, as he obliterated Dominic Mazzota with a spectacular head kick KO, just 1:15 into the opening round. Looking to follow in his father’s footsteps, the son of Antonio McKee is making a name for himself, and with another emphatic win, you can expect to see McKee opposite a notable name in his next outing.
Each of McKee’s opponent’s have presented a unique challenge, and Blair Tugman is no exception. With NCAA Div I wrestling credentials in his back pocket, Blair is a fighter who likes to close the distance, floor his opponent, and work his relentless control. Already sporting a 5-2 record inside of the promotion, Tugman has the opportunity to derail the hype train of McKee, and set himself for a big name fight with a Bellator contender.
Veta Arteaga (3-1 MMA; 2-1 Bellator) vs. Bruna Ellen (3-1 MMA; 1-1 Bellator): (W) Flyweight
Bellator’s flyweight division is a bit of a throwback to the days of old, where you didn’t really know what to expect from the fighters, as the bulk of the competitors have really young records. Such is the case in Arteaga vs. Ellen, as both women share identical records at 3-1, with 1 KO and 2 decision wins a piece, and 1 lone decision loss respectively.
In her last outing, Arteaga waged war with Brooke Mayo, and caused an engorged hematoma to form around the left eye of her opponent, prompting a 3rd round doctor’s stoppage. Before that, Arteaga was involved in another epic war with Anastasia Yankova, and although she lost the split decision, she definitely proved her worth as a ‘long day at the office’ for any Bellator 125’er. A win over Ellen, will surely place Arteaga towards the very top of the young division, and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see her run it back with Yankova. Bruna Ellen is a 21 year old Brazilian who isn’t afraid to let her hands go, often connecting with a solid right hand. Ellen is also willing to change levels and go for the takedown, if the opportunity presents itself, which could be her path of least resistance against the brawling style of Arteaga. No matter what, this should be a rather competitive tilt.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Daniel Pineda: Featherweight
Sinead Kavanagh vs. Arlene Blencowe: (W) Featherweight
Henry Corrales vs. Noad Lahat: Featherweight
Ricky Rainey vs. Marc Stevens: Welterweight
Chris Honeycutt vs. Kevin Casey: Middleweight
Colleen Schneider vs. Kate Jackson: (W) Flyweight
Matt Secor vs. TJ Sumler: Welterweight
Philipe Lins vs. Vadim Nemkov: Welterweight
Top Regal vs. Kastriot Xhema: Bantamweight
Joey Davis vs. J.T. Roswell: Catchweight of 175
Talita Nogueira vs. Amanda Bell: (W) Featherweight
Josh Ricci vs. Billy Windrum: Flyweight
Jessica Sotack vs. Kristi Lopez: Flyweight
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