Ahead of Bellator 293, the promotion’s heavyweight division continues to shift and expand, thanks to their efforts at developing talent and steady matchmaking to create a very nice stable of athletic and fun talents. And while Bellator 293 may not seem like too much at first glance, there’s a lot of exciting prospects and consequential matchups that serve to sort out various divisions.
So to put this plainly: it’s an action-first card to move things along. In this case, that’s a great thing. There’s very little fat on this, and a lot to like.
So we’ll start at the top, with #5 ranked Marcelo Golm (10-3) taking on #7 Daniel James (14-6, 1 draw). Golm has four straight wins heading into this one, including a lovely submission over Davion Franklin and a stunning finish over Billy Swanson. Golm understands the assignment, he’s gonna go in there, put pressure early and work feints and long shots with thudding overhands and quick reflexes.
James is a different story. He’s got power, sure. But his boxing is also more polished and his patience pays off. He won his pro debut in Bellator, left for other ventures and had some ups and downs, but has hit a marvelous stride with some terrifying ground finishes. His true coming out party was his finish over home-grown Bellator talent Tyrell Fortune, in this brutal display.
The co-main for Bellator 293 is bound to be a wild one, as former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano (13-4) is back in action and on a three-fight winning streak. Now, you can point to opposition like Gabrielle Holloway and Olivia Parker as a bit uneven for someone of her experience level and standing, but she toughed them out and showed she’s not losing any steps. Her wrestling has improved and the submission opportunities she manages to create are still a concern for any opponent.
She faces rising contender Leah McCourt (7-2), whose only losses were in her pro debut, then against heavy-hitting Sinead Kavanaugh. She also holds a win over Manon Fiorot, in what was her second pro fight and Fiorot’s pro debut. McCourt mostly gets by with volume, heavy clinchwork and a ton of tenacity. Her ground game has some fundamentally sound defense and a fair bit of smart offense off her back. That’s going to come in handy, because she may spend a significant amount of the fight there. She’ll also have to contend with Zingano’s cardio, while Zingano will have to work extra hard standing to not get drowned out with volume.
Submission ace and underrated talent John Salter (18-6) is tough to look good against and always brings a challenge to his opponents. He’s only had one of his eight wins in Bellator has gone to a decision, and the only losses he’s suffered were to then-champion Gegard Mousasi, as well as eventual champions Rafael Lovato and Johnny Eblen. Those are excellent losses to have, but he’s steamrolled pretty much everyone else except for Costello Van Steenis. His boxing is basic but clean and effective, and his ground game is stellar.
He faces Canada’s Aaron Jeffery (13-3), and he’s been a menace for a while. He had a very notable win over the UFC’s Andre Petroski in LFA, stumbled on Contender Series against Caio Borralho, but has racked up three straight wins, two of them in Bellator. And those wins have been amazing, such as his putting away Fabio Aguiar, and stubbing out Austin Vanderford like a cigarette. It’s a banger of a fight, and might be the fight of the night. It’s also a lovely example of Bellator building a great collection of talent at middleweight as well.
But lightweight also has a pair of rising undefeated talents pit against each other. Archie Colgan (6-0) has hands and very dynamic grappling. He also hates buggy chokes. He meets Justin “Kid Marvelous” Montalvo (5-0), who gets by on his strikes and has some spry wrestling defense of his own. He’s also got some very smart ground striking to go with it.
Adam Piccolotti (13-5) remains a reliable hand for Bellator’s lightweight division, using his smart grappling and submission acumen to be a thorn in anyone’s side. He’s up against wily dynamo Mandel Nallo (9-3), who hopes to make it two in a row and make another addition to his highlight reel.
Former Invicta champ Pam Sorenson (9-5) welcomes Sara Collins (3-0) to the Bellator cage. Standout wrestler Joey Davis (8-0) returns from a three-year hiatus to face Jeff Creighton (6-2, 1 draw). Lance Gibson Jr. remains another bright prospect for Bellator’s lightweight division, and he is in for a ride against Vladimir Tokov (7-2), brother of Anatoly.
Rakim Cleveland (22-15, 1 draw) meets the less experienced yet dangerous Christian Edwards, and Mackenzie Stiller makes her pro debut against Maria Henderson (1-0), wife of the recently retired Benson Henderson.
Bellator 293 weigh-ins:
Marcelo Golm (257.6) vs. Daniel James (265.4) – Heavyweight
Cat Zingano (145.2) vs. Leah McCourt (145.4) – Featherweight
John Salter (185.8) vs. Aaron Jeffery (185.2) – Middleweight
Archie Colgan (155.4) vs. Justin Montalvo (154.4) – Lightweight
Sullivan Cauley (205.8) vs. Luke Trainer (205.2) – Lightweight
Christian Edwards (237.8) vs. Rakim Cleveland (240.4) – Heavyweight
Lance Gibson Jr. (156) vs. Vladimir Tokov (155.2) – Lightweight
Lucas Brennan (145.4) vs. Josh San Diego (146) – Featherweight
Joey Davis (169.2) vs. Jeff Creighton (169.8) – Welterweight
Pam Sorenson (145.2) vs. Sara Collins (145.8) – Featherweight
Adam Piccolotti (156) vs. Mandel Nallo (154.8) – Lightweight
Maria Henderson (115.4) vs. Mackenzie Stiller (115.4) – Strawweight
Bryce Meredith (135.6) vs. Brandon Carrillo (135.4) – Bantamweight
Randi Field (120) vs. Ashley Cummins (119.2) — 120-pound catchweight bout
Mike Hamel (155.6) vs. Nick Browne (155.6) – Lightweight
Bellator 293: Golm vs James takes place this Friday night, with the prelims starting at 7:00pm EST. Prelims will be streaming live and free on YouTube via Bellator’s YouTube channel. The main card starts at 10:00pm and airs exclusively on Showtime.
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