Bellator’s Bantamweight Tournament has been a delight to watch, and the hottest feud in the entire tournament is now set for this week’s event.
Both Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello have had plenty to say about and to each other. And it keeps delivering in some quality exchanges that have kept the heat high and consistent throughout.
But when it comes to the actual fighting, I’ve got great news. There’s a lot to look forward to. Sabatello (13-1) hasn’t had many finishes as of late since. He had a great showing on Contender Series in 2020, and ended up with a chip on his shoulder in Bellator to put on dominant and relentless performances that see him smother his opponent, threaten submissions and pepper them with strikes from everywhere. He’s become a nightmare matchup for anyone that isn’t an elite-level wrestler at this point.
Stots (18-1) is a two-time Division II NCAA champ himself, and has adapted his wrestling for MMA in a lovely manner. But it’s his dynamite hands that have gotten him this far with wins over Magomed Magomedov, Josh Hill, and a sensational upset knockout over Juan Archuleta. Seems like he’s transferred his drive and forward movement from his wrestling to be a smaller and much more layered prime-era Johnny Hendricks in terms of basic wrestleboxer benefits. But his sprawls are impressive, his submission defense is solid, and his striking defense is also very, very sharp.
Expect a good one and perhaps some fun post-fight shenanigans regardless of who wins.
Liz Carmouche (17-7) made what most thought improbable happen when she captured the Bellator flyweight title in what was perhaps the performance of her career. Integrating her wrestling and ground strikes with a disciplined standup game to set up her bread and butter, she defeated Julianna Velasquez to take the title in April.
Now Velasquez (12-1) might feel a little less pressure coming into the immediate rematch, and is armed with more knowledge on how to deal with a threat like Carmouche. She’ll have to work on ways to keep things as upright as possible for as long as she can, utilizing her range and power to keep Carmouche at bay.
Another hot bantamweight tournament battle is on the menu, as Patchy Mix (16-1) faces Magomed Magomedov (19-2). Magomedov is a tough customer, having gone 1-1 against former UFC champ Petr Yan. His only other loss? Raufeon Stots. Is Mix ready for this level yet? He only stumbled against Juan Archuleta, but managed to win three straight after that including a major upset against Kyoji Horiguchi. Mix has an ability to draw opponents into a submission grappling vortex and pull off very unorthodox and unexpected attacks, so we should be in for a big, big treat whenever this hits the ground.
Denise Kielholtz (6-4) has a dogged determination in her bouts, and can be very fun to watch. She’ll face the tough very game Ilara Joane (10-6). Wrestling threat Mark Lemminger (12-5) meets American Top Team rep Michael Lombardo. Finally, wily finishers Cody Law (6-1) and Cris Lencioni (9-3) face off in what could be the most fun fight of the night.
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Raufeon Stots (134.4) vs. Danny Sabatello (135) – Bellator Interim bantamweight title
Liz Carmouche (124.8) vs. Juliana Velasquez (124.2) – Flyweight title fight
Patchy Mix (135) vs. Magomed Magomedov (134.4) – Bantamweight
Dalton Rosta (185.6) vs. Anthony Adams (185.4) – Middleweight
Denise Kielholtz (124.2) vs. Ilara Joanne (124.8) – Flyweight
Cody Law (145.4) vs. Cris Lencioni (146) – Featherweight
Kyle Crutchmer (170.8) vs. Jaleel Willis (170) – Welterweight
Kai Kamaka (145.2) vs. Kevin Boehm (145.1) – Featherweight
Mark Lemminger (170.8) vs. MichaelLombardo (169.8) – Welterweight
Pat Downey (185.8) vs. Christian Echols (185.4) – Middleweight
Cass Bell (136) vs. Jared Scoggins (135.2) – Bantamweight
Bellator 289: Stots vs Sabatello kicks off this Friday with the prelims streaming live and free on YouTube starting at 5:30pm EST. The main card starts at 9:00pm and airs exclusively on Showtime.
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