Bellator kicks off Easter weekend with a banger of a card featuring the light heavyweight tournament final and a hotly anticipated featherweight championship match between two of the absolute best the division has to offer.
After their initial showdown last July, AJ McKee (18-0) faces longtime Bellator standout Patricio Pitbull (32-5) in a rematch that carries a lot of weight. McKee won in style by submission, flustering the veteran former champ, but gets to solidify his status both as champ and as one of the true standout figures in the organization.
McKee still packs plenty of power and has extraordinary striking accuracy to complement his powerful and technical wrestling and his absolutely gorgeous submission ability. Pitbull is still Pitbull, a bit reckless, but a powerful and calculated striker that defends takedowns and outlasts almost anything. It may turn out closer than the first bout now that they’ve both gotten a feel for each other in the cage, but it’s guaranteed action regardless.
Corey Anderson (16-5) continues to make improvements in his overall skillset, implementing his strikes more effectively to set up his takedowns while delivering a ton of power in his strikes. That’s not just helping his ground game, his standup game is more crisp and polished these days as well.
And now he faces another stiff test against Vadim Nemkov (15-2) who has barely looked mortal in his Bellator run. Between his submissions from anywhere and his sharp, versatile and varied striking, Nemkov has shown himself to be very tough to figure out. While it’s possible that Anderson’s size and reach may present some different problems for Nemkov, we’ll also have to see how he deals with Anderson’s top pressure. Then again, we also have Nemkov’s speed and striking game inside to take into consideration. It’s a fitting matchup for a tournament that’s been way more exciting than most of us anticipated.
Aaron Pico (9-3) has gotten more comfortable as he’s evolved into the fighter he was expected to be when he hit the scene. While he was set to face Jeremy Kennedy, Kennedy withdrew and Pico now faces Adli Edwards (9-1). Edwards has fought less experienced opposition than most of the fighters Pico has faced, and it’s a tall order for him to find much success. But you never know in this game.
Tim Johnson (15-8) swings heavy hammers and is tough to put away. That’s precisely a recipe that will give Linton Vassell (22-8) some fits. But Vassell’s got some of the best submission grappling in Bellator’s heavyweight division and also packs a punch of his own. Johnson can crack him, but Vassell’s got plenty of technique to fall back on.
Standout wrestler Tyrell Fortune (11-2) meets former PFL fighter Rakim Cleveland (22-14, 1 draw), while former middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho (16-6) faces Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-7). Surging welterweight Kyle Crutchmer (8-1) meets Michael Lombardo (12-2), and kickboxing phenom Gaston Bolaños (5-3) attempts to avenge a previous loss at the hands of Daniel Carey (7-5).
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Full Bellator 277 card is as follows:
A.J. McKee (144.4) vs. Patricio Freire (144.6) – Featherweight title title
Vadim Nemkov (204.4) vs. Corey Anderson (205) – Light heavyweight title fight/tournament final
Adli Edwards (149.6) vs. Aaron Pico (149.4) – 150lb bout
Tim Johnson (260) vs. Linton Vassell (239.6) – Heavyweight
Gaston Bolanos (144.4) vs. Daniel Carey (144.8) – Featherweight
Rakim Cleveland (238.6) vs. Tyrell Fortune (258) – Heavyweight
Rafael Carvalho (206) vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (205.4) – Light heavyweight
Kyle Crutchmer (170.5) vs. Michael Lombardo (170.3) – Welterweight
Calob Ramirez (135.7) vs. Bobby Seronio III (135.8) – Bantamweight
Rhalan Gracie (170) vs. Tyson Miller (170.4) – Welterweight
Edwin De Los Santos (124.8) vs. Alberto Mendez (124.5) – Flyweight
Socrates Hernandez (145.5) vs. Rogelio Luna (145) – Featherweight
Laird Anderson (145) vs. JT Donaldson (144.6) – Featherweight
Alan Benson (203.4) vs. Theo Haig (201.5) – Light heavyweight
Bellator 277 takes place this Friday night starting at 7:00pm EST with the prelims streaming live on on YouTube, followed by the main card at 10:00pm on Showtime.
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