Bellator 278: Velasquez vs. Carmouche Preview

Juliana Velasquez and Liz Carmouche pose at the ceremonial Bellator weigh-ins.
Juliana Velasquez will look to defend her belt for the second time when she faces Liz Carmouche (Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA)

Bellator is scheduled to present a doubleheader of events this weekend from the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. In the first of two nights, undefeated flyweight champ Juliana Velasquez will attempt to defend her belt against former UFC fighter Liz Carmouche. Along with that, Bellator will kick off its bantamweight tournament with two “Wild Card” fights.

Here’s a preview of the night.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (9:00PM EDT / 3:00PM HST) (Youtube)

Bout 1: Makoa Cooper (1-0) vs. Blake Perry (0-0) (Welterweight)

After the loss of two fights from Friday’s card, the prelims are relatively short. In the first of three fights for this section of the show, welterweights Makoa Cooper and Blake Perry will compete.

Cooper won his pro debut just last month, defeating Ratavious Thrasher in just nine seconds on a Titan FC card. Perry is turning pro after a four-fight winning streak on the amateur scene from 2020 to 2021.

Bout 2: Dante Schiro (8-3) vs. Scotty Hao (5-3) (Welterweight)

Both fighting for their first Bellator win, Dante Schiro and Scotty Hao will compete on Friday’s prelims.

Schiro lost his Bellator debut last year, suffering a split decision loss against Logan Storley. He had a two-fight winning streak before then.

Hao’s sole Bellator fight was a 2019 loss to Keoni Diggs. He has bounced back since then, defeating Timothy Teves on a regional card in 2020.

Bout 3: Weber Almeida (5-1) vs. Fabricio Franco (8-4) (Featherweight)

Weber Almeida will return in the final prelim, fighting Fabricio Franco at featherweight. This fight was first booked for January but is finally happening on Friday.

Almeida took his first pro loss last year, dropping a unanimous decision against Johnny Soto. Before then he had five wins, including three finish victories in Bellator.

Franco is also coming off a loss, dropping a decision to Miguel Villegas on a Combate Global card last year. Before then he had a strong seven-fight winning streak as a pro.

Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 4:00PM HST) (Showtime)

Bout 4: Manny Muro (12-7) vs. Nate Andrews (16-4) (Catchweight 160 lbs)

The five-fight main card will begin with a bout between Manny Muro and Nate Andrews.

Andrews lost his Bellator debut last year against veteran Saad Awad. Before then, Andrews made a name for himself with success in regional promotion in CES, and notably fought in the 2019 PFL season.

Muro was finished in his last fight, getting stopped early by undefeated prospect Usman Nurmagomedov. He entered that fight with the momentum of two previous wins in Bellator.

Bout 5: Christian Edwards (5-1) vs. Grant Neal (6-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Previously undefeated light heavyweight prospects Christian Edwards and Grant Neal will look to turn things around when matched on Friday night.

Edwards took his first loss in a massive upset last year, getting stopped in just 38 seconds by Ben Parrish. This put an end to a dominant run that Edwards had earlier in his career.

Neal suffered a split decision loss in September 2021 against Alex Polizzi. Before then he had five consecutive wins in Bellator from 2019 to 2021.

Bout 6: Jornel Lugo (8-0) vs. Danny Sabatello (11-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card Bout)

In the first of two “Wild Card” fights in the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix, Jornel Lugo and Danny Sabatello will meet. For both “Wild Card” fights, a win puts a fighter into an eight-man tournament. This change was made to the tournament after two names departed the Grand Prix, causing the need for two new spots to be filled.

Lugo has an undefeated pro record of eight wins, with five coming inside the Bellator cage. He prevailed in his biggest step-up challenge just two months back, defeating Brian Moore via decision.

Sabatello, a former Titan FC Bantamweight Champion, is coming off a strong Bellator debut from last year. In that fight, he defeated former UFC fighter Brett Johns via unanimous decision.

Bout 7: Enrique Barzola (17-5-2) vs. Nikita Mikhailov (9-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card Bout)

In the second bantamweight bracket fight on the card, UFC alum Enrique Barzola will fight Nikita Mikhailov.

Barzola scored a big win in his Bellator debut earlier this year, stopping former Bellator champ Darrion Caldwell in the third round with strikes. This was his first appearance following a 10-fight UFC run that resulted in six wins.

Mikhailov has picked up two victories since joining Bellator in October 2021. His most recent appearance was in January, where he finished Blaine Shutt late in the fight with strikes.

Bout 8: Juliana Velasquez (12-0) vs. Liz Carmouche (16-7) (Bellator Flyweight Championship)

Undefeated Bellator Flyweight Champion Juliana Velasquez will attempt to defend her belt for the second time when she faces former UFC fighter Liz Carmouche in Friday’s main event.

Velasquez has been on the Bellator roster since 2017 and has attained seven wins in that time. She got her first title shot in late 2020 with a record of 10 wins and no losses.

Velasquez became the first person to defeat Ilima-Lei Macfarlane when they fought two years ago, going five rounds to win via unanimous decision and dethrone her.

Velasquez defended her belt for the first time in 2021, earning a split decision win against Denise Kielholtz. She will now face Carmouche, who has been on a roll since joining the Bellator roster in 2020.

Carmouche has quickly strung together a trio of wins in the promotion. Her last victory was her quickest win, stopping then-undefeated Kana Watanabe in just 35 seconds with punches.

Carmouche has momentum and experience on her side, but to become a champion she will have to do something nobody has done before: defeat Velasquez.

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