The return of MMA continues this weekend, as the second-largest MMA promotion in North America, Bellator MMA reboots their programming. The promotion has a plan in place to use the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA, as their hub for events without a live audience.
That hub is used for the first time on Friday, as the promotion holds Bellator 242. The seven-fight card sees many prospects and notable names in the promotion. Headlining the card is a three-round bantamweight battle between Sergio Pettis and Ricky Bandejas. Here’s a preview of the full card.
Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.
Preliminary Card (8:45PM EDT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Rudy Schaffroth (6-1) vs. Ras Hylton (5-4) (Heavyweight)
Bellator is often known for their large preliminary cards that sometimes would spill into the “postlims” after the main event. This show has a short three-fight preliminary card broadcasted just more than an hour before the main card.
The first of three prelims sees Rudy Schaffroth face Ras Hylton. Schaffroth was meant to face undefeated Bellator fighter Steve Mowry, but plans changed after Mowry tested positive for COVID-19.
Replacing Mowry is Hylton, who will be making his Bellator debut. His nine-fight pro career includes five wins and four losses, one of the four being against now-UFC fighter Yorgan De Castro. He last competed in late February, losing on a Premier FC card to Terrance Jean-Jacques.
Schaffroth has competed three times in Bellator, winning his first two appearances. His third handed him his first loss as a pro, as Tyrell Fortune caught him in the second round with a rear naked choke. The heavyweight who’s won all of his fights before in the first round will look to do it again on Friday.
Bout 2: Raufeon Stots (13-1) vs. Cass Bell (5-0) (Bantamweight)
Undefeated Cass Bell will get his biggest challenge yet on the prelims when he faces Raufeon Stots. Bell’s five fights as a pro, all of which happened in Bellator, came against fighters who had similar or slightly more experience than him. Not only does Stots have nearly triple the amount of bouts as Bell, he has proven himself victorious in all but one of them.
Bell’s last fight was an important one for him. Being his first decision win, it proved he was able to go all 15 minutes, something Stots has done in his last three fights.
Stots is on a five-fight winning streak, with the most recent one being his Bellator debut in December over Cheyden Leialoha.
Bout 3: Jake Smith (7-3) vs. Mark Lemminger (10-1) (Welterweight)
Mark Lemminger’s Bellator debut has seen numerous false starts, but it looks like it could happen for real on Friday. First being booked in February against Carlo Pedersoli, Lemminger lost the fight due to Pedersoli being injured. A month later, a bout against Ion Pascu was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Smith almost lost his third go around earlier in the week, as his originally scheduled opponent Logan Storley pulled out due to injury. However, Jake Smith stepped in, salvaging the bout.
Lemminger has an impressive record, walking into this bout on a three-fight winning streak. One of the wins came from high-level regional MMA promotion LFA.
Smith has fought twice in Bellator. His promotional debut saw him stop Steve Kozola in under a minute. Returning in 2019, Smith lost to Adam Piccolotti. He returns on this card in an attempt to bounce back.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT) (Paramount Network)
Bout 4: Aaron Pico (5-3) vs. Solo Hatley Jr. (8-2) (Featherweight)
In his short MMA career, Aaron Pico has been under a strong spotlight. The large exposure that being in a promotion like Bellator brings is a double-edged sword, demonstrated by how the finisher is known for his powerful wins but also his few losses.
Snapping a two-fight losing streak in January, Pico defeated Daniel Carey in the second round with a left hook. He’s now matched with Solo Hatley Jr., who won his debut Bellator performance last February over Gaston Bolanos. Hatley has more cage experience than Pico, not only having more fights but longer fights.
Bout 5: Tywan Claxton (6-1) vs. Jay Jay Wilson (5-0) (Featherweight)
Two of Bellator’s rising featherweights in Tywan Claxton and Jay Jay Wilson will compete on the main card of the show. Wilson has been undefeated through his five-fight career so far, all winning via stoppage. His most recent fight saw him stop Mario Navarro with an armbar in the second round.
Claxton recently defeated Braydon Akeo, bouncing back from a loss to Emmanuel Sanchez in the first round of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.
On Thursday, Wilson missed the featherweight limit for the fight. While the fight is set to happen, 20 percent of Wilson’s fight purse will go to Claxton, per MMA Junkie.
Bout 6: Jordan Mein (31-12) vs. Jason Jackson (11-4) (Welterweight)
In the co-main event of the show, former UFC fighter Jordan Mein will make his first Bellator appearance, facing Jason Jackson. Mein competed in UFC from 2013 to 2018, competing nine times in that period. While Mein won his last two fights, he will be coming back from a two-year absence from a professional MMA bout.
Jackson has competed all around MMA, including appearances in “Dana White’s Contender Series,” “The Ultimate Fighter,” LFA, Titan FC and Bellator. His last two fights came from Bellator, where won and lost a bout each. After a split decision went to Ed Ruth, Jackson returned in December with a decision victory over Kiichi Kunimoto.
Bout 7: Sergio Pettis (19-5) vs. Ricky Bandejas (13-3) (Bantamweight)
In the headlining slot of the card, Sergio Pettis is matched with Ricky Bandejas in a three-round battle. The last fight for Pettis was his first in Bellator, ending his 14-fight UFC run. He had a strong start, defeating Alfred Khashakyan in the first round with a guillotine choke.
Bandejas had a rough start to 2019, losing bouts against both Juan Archuleta and Patricky Mix. He turned it around in his last two fights, stopping Ahmet Kayretli and Frans Mlambo with strikes. Pettis is a large step up in competition for Bandejas in comparison to his two previous opponents.