Austin Vanderford’s climb up the Bellator middleweight division will reach its peak on Friday night, as he will challenge current champ Gegard Mousasi in the main event of a card from the 3Arena Dublin in Dublin, Ireland.
Here’s a preview of that fight, along with the entire 13-fight card set for the event.
Preliminary Card (1:00PM EST / 8:00PM GMT) (Youtube)
Bout 1: Lee Hammond (1-0) vs. Jamie Hay (2-0) (Featherweight)
Featherweights will start the card, as Lee Hammond and Jamie Hay will fight.
Hammond won his pro debut in November, stopping Ionut Brostic. That win was a strong debut statement for Hammond, as Brostic had an undefeated record of four wins before then.
Hay has picked up two wins since turning pro, although his appearance on Friday will be his first fight in nearly two years.
Bout 2: Scott Pedersen (1-2) vs. Nathan Kelly (3-2) (Featherweight)
Fighting to even his pro record, Scott Pedersen will meet Nathan Kelly in the next fight.
Pedersen has taken one win and two losses in Cage Warriors since March 2021. Still in his rookie year as a pro, he can climb out of a short negative record on Friday.
Kelly’s pro run started with two losses, but he has climbed out of that in recent years by scoring three consecutive victories.
Bout 3: Kirill Sidelnikov (13-6) vs. Gokhan Saricam (6-1) (Heavyweight)
Both making their fourth appearance in Bellator, heavyweights Kirill Sidelnikov and Gokhan Saricam will meet in the next prelim.
Sarikham had an incredibly quick win in his last appearance, stopping Charlie Milner in just 15 seconds. That was his second finish win in Bellator.
Sidelnikov similarly had a fast win in his last fight, stopping Rab Truesdale in the first round with ground and pound shots.
Bout 4: Daniele Scatizzi (11-5) vs. Vladimir Tokov (5-1) (Lightweight)
Fighting to bounce back from his sole pro loss, Vladimir Tokov will face Daniele Scatizzi at lightweight.
Tokov’s last appearance was in August 2020, where fellow then-undefeated fighter Chris Gonzalez beat him via split decision. Before then, Tokov had five wins, including two Bellator fights.
Scatizzi is currently on a two-fight winning streak in Bellator. His last win came three months ago, defeating Brian Hooi via unanimous decision.
Bout 5: Junior Morgan (3-0) vs. Darragh Kelly (0-0) (Lightweight)
Highly touted lightweight prospect Darragh Kelly will make his pro debut when facing Junior Morgan. This fight was first scheduled for November 2021, although it was later moved to this date instead.
Kelly is turning pro after a flawless amateur run of nine wins from 2017 to 2021.
Morgan is also undefeated, having picked up three wins as a pro. This is set to be his first fight since September 2019.
Bout 6: Danni McCormack (5-0) vs. Stephanie Page (5-3) (Strawweight)
Undefeated Danni McCormack will fight to continue her strong run when facing Stephanie Page in the next prelim.
McCormack had a successful return to Bellator last fall, scoring a third-round stoppage win against Audrey Kerouche. This just added to a strong five-fight record that includes four fights in Bellator since 2019.
Page is still searching for her first Bellator victory. She lost her promotional debut in October, as Irina Alekseeva beat her on scorecards. That was her second consecutive defeat.
Bout 7: Charlie Leary (17-11-1) vs. Davy Gallon (19-7-2) (Lightweight)
Experienced lightweights Charlie Leary and Davy Gallon will fight in the next bout.
Leary currently has a Bellator record of three wins and two losses. His last fight, a bout that took place just over a year ago, saw him score a doctor stoppage win over Kiefer Crosbie.
Gallon made his Bellator debut just last year with a unanimous decision win over Kane Mousah. That was his third consecutive win since early 2019.
Bout 8: Brett Johns (17-3) vs. Khurshed Kakhorov (8-0) (Bantamweight)
Former UFC fighter Brett Johns will fight for his first Bellator win when facing undefeated prospect Khurshed Kakhorov in the final prelim.
Johns made his Bellator debut in 2021, switching over to the promotion after a seven-fight run in the UFC. He was on a two-fight winning streak from the tail-end of his UFC stint. In what was a bit of an upset, Johns lost a unanimous decision to Danny Sabatello in that fight. Now attempting to bounce back from that loss, Johns will face undefeated Kakhorov.
Kakhorov has a flawless pro record of eight wins. He added his Bellator debut to this list in October, defeating Jair Junior via unanimous decision.
Main Card (4:00PM EST / 11:00PM GMT) (Showtime)
Bout 9: Brett Moore (14-8) vs. Jornel Lugo (7-0) (Bantamweight)
Fighting to continue a dominant climb up the bantamweight ranks, Jornel Lugo will face Brett Moore in the opening fight on the main card.
Lugo joined the Bellator roster in 2020 with a record of four wins. He has picked up three more victories since then. This includes his last win, a first-round rear naked choke submission that he picked up against Keith Lee in August 2021.
Moore is a Bellator vet of nine fights. He had a strong three-fight winning streak in Bellator broken last year. This came against Nikita Mikhailov, who earned a unanimous decision win over him at Bellator 269.
Bout 10: Khasan Magomedsharipov (6-0) vs. Jose Sanchez (11-1) (Featherweight)
Hot off a successful Bellator debut, Khasan Magomedsharipov will face Jose Sanchez on Saturday night.
Magomedsharipov signed with Bellator in 2021. This came after putting together five pro wins in 2019 and 2020, including four stoppage victories.
Magomedsharipov added to that count of finishes in his Bellator debut, stopping Jonathan Quiroz in the second round with strikes.
Sanchez, a Bellator newcomer, is returning after taking his first loss last year. He previously had 10 wins on the regional scene, mostly beating inexperienced opponents.
Bout 11: Ciaran Clarke (4-0) vs. Abou Tounkara (7-2) (Featherweight)
With the attention that a main card fight brings, undefeated Ciaran Clarke will return against Abou Tounkara on Friday night.
All four of Clarke’s wins thus far have come in the Bellator cage since 2019. He has been given much tougher opponents in his past two fights compared to the start of his career. The combined record of his past two opponents and his upcoming fight is 21 wins, four losses and one draw. His last victory was in November 2021, where he submitted Jordan Barton in the final minute via rear naked choke.
Tounkara has a record of seven wins and two losses. While Tounkara is more experienced than Clarke, he is coming off a loss. He suffered a first-round stoppage defeat in October, losing to Saba Bolaghi.
Bout 12: Leah McCourt (6-1) vs. Sinead Kavanagh (7-5) (Featherweight)
Notable featherweights Leah McCourt and Sinead Kavanagh will fight in the co-main event. This fight wasn’t originally set to get the co-main event focus, but it was elevated to that status after a fight between Peter Queally and Kane Mousah was taken off the card.
McCourt has been dominant since joining Bellator in 2019. Her most recent win came in October, where she went three rounds against Jessica Borga for a decision victory.
Kavanagh headlined a Bellator card in her last outing, facing Cris Cyborg in November 2021. This was a quick loss for her, as Cyborg scored a stoppage in the second minute. Before then, Kavanagh had two consecutive wins in Bellator.
Bout 13: Gegard Mousasi (48-7-2) vs. Austin Vanderford (11-0) (Bellator Middleweight Championship)
Undefeated Austin Vanderford will get the biggest challenge of his career thus far when facing Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi in the main event of Friday’s card.
Vanderford has had a slow but steady climb to the top of Bellator’s ranks. He first joined the promotion in 2019, boasting a record of six wins back then. His first year with the promotion was a busy one, scoring three victories.
Mousasi will be fighting to continue his second run as Bellator champ. His first title reign started in 2018 and was stopped a year later by Rafael Lovato Jr. However, he found himself back in the title picture after Lovato Jr. retired.
Mousasi re-gained the title in October 2020, going five rounds against Douglas Lima for a unanimous decision win. He has defended the title once since then, stopping John Salter in a title fight last year.
Mousasi could make his current title reign his longest yet with a win on Friday. However, he will have to end the undefeated run of Vanderford to do so.