The Bellator debut of Corey Anderson will happen on Thursday night, being matched with Melvin Manhoef in the main event of Bellator 251. The fight sits atop a 10-bout card which is scheduled to happen at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
Here’s a preview of the action.
Preliminary Card (4:45PM EST) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Sumiko Inaba (0-0) vs. Jessica Ruiz (0-1) (Strawweight)
The preliminary card will kick off with the pro debut of Sumiko Inaba, who will be matched with Jessica Ruiz. Inaba fought as an amateur from 2014 to 2019, attaining six wins in her run, per Tapology.
Inaba signed a multi-fight contract for Bellator ahead of her pro debut.
The fight will be Ruiz’s first since 2018. Her last fight, her debut as a pro, was a loss to Jennifer Chieng, being stopped in the second round with punches.
Bout 2: Jaylon Bates (0-0) vs. Joe Supino (0-0) (Bantamweight)
More debuts will come after the first fight of the evening, as Jaylon Bates and Joe Supino will begin their respective pro campaigns in the second prelim bout.
Per Tapology, Bates had a strong nine-fight run of wins as an amateur from 2017 to 2019. Of those wins, Bates finished seven of his opponents.
Supino’s amateur career spanned from 2017 to 2020, attaining six wins in that timespan.
Bout 3: Piankhi Zimmerman (5-4-1) vs. Ali Zebian (4-2) (Lightweight)
Both coming off of losses, Piankhi Zimmerman and Ali Zebian will fight on Thursday’s prelims. Zimmerman’s last fight was in CFFC, being stopped in the first round by Joseph Lowry. Thursday will be his Bellator debut.
Zebian returns to Bellator with the fight. He last competed in October, dropping a decision to Viecheslav Borshchev at LFA 92. His last Bellator fight was in 2019, losing a split decision to Matt Probin.
Bout 4: Janay Harding (5-4) vs. Jessy Miele (9-4) (Featherweight)
Jessy Miele will get somewhat of a quick turnaround on Thursday, fighting Janay Harding on the prelims. Miele last fought in August, losing a decision to former Bellator Featherweight Champion Julia Budd. She won her previous Bellator fight, defeating Talita Nogueira.
Harding will look to return to the winning with the fight as well. Her last fight was a loss, being stopped late in the third round by Amanda Bell in November of 2019. She previously had a two-win streak within Bellator.
Bout 5: Julius Anglickas (8-1) vs. Alex Polizzi (7-0) (Light Heavyweight)
Rising Bellator light heavyweights Julius Anglickas and Alex Polizzi will collide on Thursday’s preliminary card.
Polizzi, a former LFA Light Heavyweight Champion, made his Bellator debut in September. Polizzi won his fight, getting a decision over the more experienced Rafael Carvalho.
The fight will see the return of Anglickas after a year-long absence from the cage. His last fight was in November of 2019, defeating Jordan Young in his Bellator debut. Anglickas was also an LFA champion prior to his Bellator run.
Bout 6: Bryce Logan (12-4) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (29-11-1) (Lightweight)
Former LFA champ Bryce Logan will return to Bellator on Thursday when matched against Georgi Karakhanyan. Logan finished his LFA run after three consecutive wins, with the third being a title shot against Jacob Rosales.
He has fought in Bellator once before, losing a split decision to Demarques Jackson in 2018.
Karakhanyan has lost three of his last four in Bellator. His most recent fight, a loss, came against Myles Jury in August.
Main Card (7:00PM EDT) (CBS Sports Network)
Bout 7: Austin Vanderford (9-0) vs. Vinicius de Jesus (9-3) (Middleweight)
Undefeated fighter Austin Vanderford will kick off the main card when he fights Vinicius de Jesus.
Vanderford entered Bellator in 2019, defeating Cody Jones within a round. He went on to win his next two bouts within the year. He will return on Thursday when paired against a short-notice opponent.
De Jesus took the bout with little time to prepare, replacing Chris Curtis, who tested positive for COVID-19. He last competed in August, losing an LFA title fight to Jaleel Willis.
Bout 8: Derek Anderson (16-3) vs. Killys Mota (12-1) (Welterweight)
Welterweights Derek Anderson and Killys Mota will fight on the main card. Mota had a strong Bellator debut in 2019, defeating then-undefeated Mandel Nallo with leg kicks in the third round. His previous fight, his sole loss in his career, came against now-UFC fighter Austin Hubbard.
Anderson comes into the cage after somewhat of a layoff, although he does also enter on a two-fight streak of wins. Anderson was meant to fight in October, although his opponent Paul Daley was pulled from the bout due to a medical scare.
His last two fights in Bellator were victories, defeating Zak Bucia and Guilherme Bomba both via decision.
Bout 9: Tyrell Fortune (8-1) vs. Said Sowma (6-1) (Heavyweight)
Attempting to return to the win column after a loss in February to Timothy Johnson, Tyrell Fortune will fight Bellator newcomer Said Sowma in the co-main event.
Fortune’s loss, a first-round finish by Johnson, ended an eight-fight streak of wins within Bellator. Fortune returned in September, although an accidental low blow took his opponent Jack May out of the fight, also turning the bout into a no contest.
Sowma enters Bellator following a six-fight streak of wins on the regional scene. His last fight was in September, defeating Bobby Brents with punches to take the vacant Titan FC Heavyweight Championship.
Sowma has crossed paths with Bellator fighters before, as his first pro fight, a loss, came against Steve Mowry in 2018.
Bout 10: Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1) vs. Corey Anderson (13-5) (Light Heavyweight)
After 15 fights in the UFC, Corey Anderson will make the move to Bellator on Thursday night when he faces Melvin Manhoef.
Anderson was one of the higher-ranked light heavyweights prior to his UFC departure. His last fight in the promotion was a loss to Jan Blachowicz, who went on to win the 205-pound belt in his next fight.
Anderson had four-straight wins prior to his loss in February to Blachowicz.
Anderson noted that his departure from the UFC was a financial move and that he was going where the money was for him.
Thursday’s fight will be a return to action for Manhoef, as he has not competed since October of 2019. He has won his last two fights, defeating Yannick Bahati and Kent Kauppinen.
The experienced kickboxer has his last two losses in 2016 and 2017, losing two middleweight title fights against Rafael Carvalho.