In late 2020, Juliana Velasquez became the first woman to defeat Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. She dethroned the longtime Bellator Flyweight Champion and started a reign of her own. Now, Velasquez has two things to defend: her undefeated record and her 125-pound belt.
She’ll have the chance to potentially do both on Friday night, facing Denise Kielholtz in the main event of Bellator 262. The fight sits atop a 10-bout card from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
Here’s a preview of what is set to happen on Friday night.
Preliminary Card (6:25PM EDT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Charlie Campbell (3-1) vs. Nick Giuletti (2-1) (Lightweight)
Charlie Campbell will return for his second Bellator fight when facing promotional newcomer Nick Giuletti in the first bout of the prelims.
Campbell last appeared on a Bellator card in August of 2020, where he stopped Nainoa Dung with strikes. He has since picked up another win on the regional scene, defeating Cedric Gunnison on a CFFC card.
Giuletti is getting the Bellator call-up after taking his first pro loss two months ago, losing a decision to Feraris Golden at CFFC 97.
Bout 2: Johnny Soto (4-1) vs. Adil Benjilany (5-3) (Featherweight)
Returning for what he hopes could be his second Bellator win, Johnny Soto will face Adil Benjilany on Friday.
Soto scored a win in his Bellator debut two months back, earning an upset win against then-undefeated fighter Weber Almeida via unanimous decision. He was given the fight after scoring three wins on the regional scene since turning pro in 2019.
The fight on Friday will be Benjilany’s return after over a year outside of the cage. He has competed four times in Bellator but enters Friday on a two-fight losing streak.
Bout 3: Diana Avsaragova (3-0) vs. Gabriella Gulfin (2-2) (Flyweight)
After an explosive promotional debut earlier this year, undefeated flyweight Diana Avsaragova will face Gabriella Gulfin.
Avsaragova made her Bellator debut in April, stopping Tara Graff in just 29 seconds with a slick combination of punches. The quick victory extended her undefeated pro record to three consecutive.
Gulfin will be fighting to break a two-fight losing streak in her first Bellator appearance. Her last two appearances have been in CFFC, where she has been finished in both outings.
The fight on Friday will be Gulfin’s first in over a year.
Bout 4: Cody Law (3-0) vs. Theodore Macuka (1-0) (Featherweight)
Looking to score the fourth win in his rookie year as a pro, Cody Law will face Theodore Macuka.
Law’s three-fight pro run has taken place completely in Bellator thus far. After stopping his first two opponents, Law went the distance for the first time as a pro to defeat Nathan Ghareeb in April.
Macuka will be making his return on Friday. The 21-year-old won his pro debut in 2019, stopping his opponent in just 36 seconds, per Tapology.
Bout 5: Ronny Markes (19-8) vs. Said Sowma (6-2) (Heavyweight)
Heavyweights Ronny Markes and Said Sowma will cap off the five-fight preliminary card.
Markes, a former PFL fighter, will be competing for his first win in Bellator. He got his long-awaited promotional debut in December, being stopped in the second round of a fight by Linton Vassell.
Markes was previously set to make his entrance into Bellator in fights against Josh Barnett or Matt Mitrione, although both of these bookings fell through in late 2019 and early 2020.
Sowma also lost his Bellator debut, losing a fight on scorecards to Tyrell Fortune in November. The booking came after Sowma won the Titan FC Heavyweight Championship last year.
Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (Showtime)
Bout 6: Johnny Eblen (8-0) vs. Travis Davis (10-4) (Middleweight)
Johnny Eblen will get a quick turnaround with a fight against Travis Davis in the opening bout of the main card.
Eblen’s undefeated pro career has consisted of eight pro wins with four in Bellator. He snapped a streak of scorecard wins and earned his first finish victory in Bellator two months back, stopping Daniel Madrid within a round with strikes.
Eblen is now matched with Davis, who will be making his 15th pro MMA appearance and first in Bellator. He is currently on a two-fight streak of submission wins on the regional scene and has won four of his last five.
Bout 7: Arlene Blencowe (13-8) vs. Dayana Silva (9-6) (Featherweight)
Returning for the first time after losing a title fight, Arlene Blencowe will fight fellow featherweight Dayana Silva.
Blencowe lost to Bellator Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg in her last appearance, being stopped in the second round with a rear naked choke. The fight was given to Blencowe after going on a three-fight winning streak in Bellator from 2018 to 2019.
Silva came up short in her Bellator debut in April, dropping a split decision to former champ Julia Budd.
Bout 8: Matheus Mattos (12-2-1) vs. Cee Jay Hamilton (15-8) (Bantamweight)
Both attempting to bounce back from a loss in their first Bellator fight, bantamweights Matheus Mattos and Cee Jay Hamilton will meet on Friday’s main card.
The matchmaking behind Mattos versus Hamilton follows a formula that makes sense. Both of their Bellator fights were a loss against the same opponent: Magomed Magomedov.
Mattos was the first Bellator fighter to face Magomedov, battling for three rounds against him late last year. Mattos wasn’t favoured on scorecards after three rounds, losing via unanimous decision.
Hamilton is the most recent opponent of Magomedov. He was finished by the rising contender, getting submitted in the second round with a rear naked choke in April.
Bout 9: Tyrell Fortune (10-1) vs. Matt Mitrione (13-8) (Heavyweight)
Bellator heavyweights Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione will compete in the co-main event. This booking was first set to happen in April, but that plan changed after Mitrione withdrew from the booking. Now just a few months later the fight will come to fruition.
Fortune now has the chance to score the biggest win of his career yet when facing Mitrione.
Mitrione is a former UFC fighter and a veteran of the sport. On Friday he will be fighting for his first win since 2018, as his last four appearances in the cage have resulted in three losses and a no contest.
His last appearance was in August last year, where he was stopped within a round by Timothy Johnson – the same opponent who has a win over Fortune.
Bout 10: Juliana Velasquez (11-0) vs. Denise Kielholtz (6-2) (Bellator Flyweight Championship)
Bellator Flyweight Champion Juliana Velasquez will attempt to defend her belt for the first time when facing Denise Kielholtz in the main event of Bellator 262.
Velasquez became the first woman to defeat Ilima-Lei Macfarlane last year, getting a unanimous decision nod over the former champ. The win further extended Velasquez’s own undefeated record, which now has six wins in Bellator alone.
She now faces a dominant striker in Kielholtz who is getting her first five-round MMA fight.
Kielholtz may have a small MMA record of only eight fights, but she has no shortage of experience in combat sports. The 32-year-old has competed in kickboxing since 2009. She has fought in notable kickboxing promotion Enfusion and became Bellator’s 125-pound kickboxing champ in 2016.
Kielholtz made her Bellator MMA debut in 2017, securing a submission win. She has since scored five more wins, finishing four of those opponents. She was put in the title contender position last year after stopping former belt challenger Kate Jackson within a minute at Bellator 247.
While already a champion in the sport of kickboxing, a win on Friday could earn Kielholtz her first belt in MMA.