Amid a world of cancelled sporting events, Bellator and UFC find themselves running events this weekend. The caveat, however, is that both events are held without live audiences. It’s something that obviously takes away from the events, but can not be criticized as the threats of COVID-19 (coronavirus) overshadow the value of a fully immersive MMA experience.
The Bellator 241 card on Friday features lots of the promotion’s known names, holding good value despite last minute removal of some fighters. Headlining the card is a Featherweight Grand Prix double header, as Patricio Pitbull versus Pedro Carvalho and Daniel Weichel versus Emmanuel Sanchez in quarter-final fights. From the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA, here’s a preview of Bellator 241.
During the weigh-in process, two fights from the undercard fell through. First, Mike Kimbel’s fight against Kenny Rivera was off after Rivera missed the weigh-in window. Also off the show was a featherweight bout between Leandro Higo and Dominic Mazzotta. Coming in at 149.5 pounds for the 145-pound matchup, Mazzotta was ruled unable to compete.
Prelims (Youtube/DAZN) (7:30PM EDT)
Bout 1: Jordan Newman (2-0) vs. Pat McCrohan (4-3) (Middleweight)
Bellator starts the. evening with an eight-fight preliminary card, beginning at 7:30PM EDT. Most fights tend to air on the prelims, but if any do not get booked in time, they get bumped to another Youtube and DAZN feet after the main card wraps up.
The first of the preliminary lineup is undefeated Jordan Newman returning to Bellator to face Pat McCrohan. Newman has won his past two professional fights in Bellator, the most recent one via decision. He fights out of respected Roufusport MMA Academy and has a background in wrestling. McCrohan is coming off of a loss in Rhode Island promotion CES MMA.
Bout 2: Vladimir Tokov (5-0) vs. Marcus Surin (6-2) (Lightweight)
Attempting to come back from a loss, Marcus Surin fights undefeated Vladimir Tokov in the next bout. Tokov is 2-0 in Bellator, with both wins being via decision.
Bout 3: Mark Lemminger (10-1) vs. Ion Pascu (18-10) (Welterweight)
After a 10-1 record on the regional scene, Mark Lemminger will make his Bellator debut against Ion Pascu. Lemming got his first loss as a pro in 2018, but has since bounced back with three wins. Pascu is no stranger to Bellator with an 0-3 record, although this is his first fight after a year off.
Bout 4: Baby Slice (3-2) vs. Kaheem Murray (3-3) (Catchweight 160 lbs)
Kevin Ferguson Jr., better known as Baby Slice returns on the prelims, fighting Kaheem Murray in a catchweight fight. Slice gets his name from being the son of the late Kimbo Slice. Slice has struggled to win in Bellator recently, getting stopped by Corey Browning and going to a draw recently. Murray is making his Bellator debut, coming off of a rear naked choke loss from June.
Bout 5: Killys Mota (12-1) vs. Nate Andrews (16-3) (Lightweight)
After fighting in the 2019 season of the Professional Fighters League, Nate Andrews makes his Bellator debut against Brazilian fighter Killys Mota. Andrews went 1-2 in the promotion, with the second loss being a two-round decision. Mota made his Bellator debut in October, stopping Bellator prospect Mandel Nallo in the third round.
Bout 6: Romero Cotton (4-0) vs. Justin Sumter (7-3) (Middleweight)
Undefeated Bellator talent Romero Cotton returns to face Justin Sumter in the next preliminary fight. Cotton’s last fight was not a satisfying win for him, with his opponent Jason Perrotta suffering an injury in the clinch. Sumter is returning to Bellator after a second loss in Dana White’s Contender Series. Sumter has fought in Bellator once, getting a second round neck crank win.
Bout 7: Robson Gracie Jr. (3-0) vs. Billy Goff (2-2) (Welterweight)
Another one of the undefeated fighters Bellator is trying to build, Robson Gracie Jr., fights Billy Goff in the next undercard fight. Gracie Jr. only has finishes, recently getting a first round triangle choke in November. Goff has lost his last two fights, which were on the regional scene.
Bout 8: Leslie Smith (11-8-1) vs. Jessy Miele (9-3) (Featherweight)
The eight and final preliminary fight sees former UFC fighter Leslie Smith have her third fight in Bellator, fighting Jessy Miele. Smith is 1-1 so far in Bellator, recently losing via decision. Miele had a successful Bellator debut last September, earning a split decision over Talita Nogueira.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / DAZN)
Bout 9: Matt Mitrione (13-7) vs. Ronny Markes (19-7) (Heavyweight)
The main card begins with Matt Mitrione returning against Ronny Markes. Markes was meant to face Josh Barnett on this card, however that fell through. Markes fought once in the 2019 PFL season, winning over Sigi Pesaleli. Mitrione is returning after an unfortunate two-fight series against Sergei Kharitonov. The first of their meetings ended after 15 seconds, as Kharitonov was hit with an accidental groin kick. Meeting again in the summer, Mitrione lost via strikes, however his constantly popping out mouthguard distracted him throughout the fight.
Bout 10: Anatoly Tokov (29-3) vs. Fabio Aguiar (17-1) (Middleweight)
Two middleweights on extensive winning streaks meet when Anatoly Tokov fights Fabio Aguiar. Despite being on a 10-fight winning streak, Aguiar is the largest underdog on the card, coming in at +700. This could be because this fight is his promotional debut. His opponent, Tokov, is 5-0 since debuting in Bellator, with the past two being via stoppage.
Bout 11: Nick Newell (16-3) vs. Zach Zane (14-9) (Lightweight)
“Notorious” Nick Newell had a powerful debut in Bellator back in August, stopping Corey Browning in the first round with an arm triangle choke. After that, Newell had a split decision loss to Manny Muro. He now is matched against Zach Zane, who won his Bellator debut in December against Nainoa Dung. Like Newell, Zane has fought on UFC series “Dana White’s Contender Series” before, failing to win a contract.
Bout 12: Paul Daley (47-17-2) vs. Sabah Homasi (13-8) (Welterweight)
In the final non-tournament fight, MMA veteran Paul Daley fights Sabah Homasi. Fighting in Bellator since 2015, Daley holds a 7-4 record in the promotion. He’s currently on a two-fight win streak, coming back from losing two in a row in late 2018 to 2019. Homasi debuted with Bellator in August, winning with a right hook in the first minute. He had a UFC run in 2016 to 2018, going 0-3 in the promotion.
Bout 13: Daniel Weichel (40-11) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) (Featherweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
The co-main event of the evening sees a rematch between Daniel Weichel and Emmanuel Sanchez. Weichel broke a two-fight losing streak in the first round of the Featherweight Grand Prix, defeating Saul Rogers with a decision. He’s been with Bellator since 2014, going 9-3 since. If he were to win the tournament, Weichel would become champion upon second attempt, as he failed to win the championship in 2015 against Patricio Pitbull.
Sanchez won the round of 16 by breaking the undefeated record of Tywan Claxton with a second round triangle choke. The Roufusport fighter has fought in Bellator since 2014. He lost a champioship fight to Pitbull in 2018, going to a unanimous decision.
The first meeting between Weichel and Sanchez happened in 2016, with Weichel getting a 2016 split decision win. That fight was three rounds, with this meeting being scheduled for five rounds.
Bout 14: Patricio Pitbull (30-4) vs. Pedro Carvalho (11-3) (Featherweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
The main event has Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Pitbull faces Pedro Carvalho. Since joining Bellator four fights ago, Carvalho has only been winning. He won in the first round against Sam Sicillia with a second round face crank.
Pitbull has easily been one of the most dominant fighters in Bellator history. In his second and most recent featherweight belt run, Pitbull won the belt from Daniel Strauss in 2017. He defended it once and won the promotion’s lightweight championship before entering the tournament. Defeating Juan Archuleta in the first round, Pitbull not only advanced but made another defence of his belt.
The winner of the two tournament fights on this card will meet eachother at a later date. Whoever wins that semi-final fight will face the winner of A.J. McKee versus Darrion Caldwell, which takes place on June 6th.
Bellator will take April off, returning on May 9th, with Bellator 242 from the SAP Center in San Jose, California, USA. Headlining the card, Ryan Bader drops down to light heavyweight to defend his 205-pound belt against Vadim Nemkov. The co-main event sees Gegard Mousasi face Douglas Lima for the vacant Bellator Middleweight Championship.