Bellator 280: Bader vs. Kongo 2 Preview

Bellator will head back to Paris, France for the second time on Friday night with a heavyweight title fight atop the card. Meeting in a rematch, current Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader will face experienced French fighter Cheick Kongo.

The fight is scheduled to headline a card from the Accor Arena. Here’s a full preview of the event.

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

Preliminary Card (1:00PM EDT / 7:00PM CEST) (Youtube)

Bout 1: Victor Verchere (5-1) vs. Bourama Camara (4-1) (Welterweight)

In one of the two all-French matchups on Friday’s card, Victor Verchere and Bourama Camara will face off.

Both welterweights are coming off their first pro loss. Camara took a defeat in July 2021, suffering a defeat against Wissame Akhmouch. In that same month, Verchere lost to Geysim Derouiche.

Both fighters will be making their Bellator debuts on Friday night.

Bout 2: Youcef Ouabbas (2-0) vs. Matthieu Duclos (2-1) (Middleweight)

Rising middleweights Yousef Ouabbas and Matthieu Duclos will meet on Friday’s prelims.

Ouabbas has earned two wins since turning pro in 2018. He is returning after somewhat of a break, as his last fight was a finish win against Lois Laurent in June 2019.

Duclos earned his second pro victory just two months back, scoring a stoppage win against Mathias Riuecros.

Bout 3: Lucie Bertaud (3-3) vs. Katarzyna Sadura (5-4) (Flyweight)

Both returning to Bellator, Lucie Bertaud and Katarzyna Sadura will fight.

Bertaud’s last Bellator appearance came over a year ago when she beat Maguy Berchel at the promotion’s first French show. She has since taken a loss on the regional scene, getting stopped last year by Karla Benitez.

Sadura won her Bellator debut in October 2021, scoring a second-round finish victory against Darina Mazdyuk. This victory put her back into the win column after suffering a loss in 2019.

Bout 4: Yves Landu (16-9) vs. Gavin Hughes (10-2) (Lightweight)

Fighting to get back into the win column, lightweights Yves Landu and Gavin Hughes are set to compete on Friday night.

Landu took his first Bellator loss last year, dropping a decision against Tim Wilde. His promotional debut a year before then was an explosive win, stopping Terry Brazier with a flying knee.

Hughes is returning to the cage after more than a year out of competition. He was submitted early in his last bout, losing to Daniele Scatizzi.

Bout 5: Soren Bak (15-1) vs. Charlie Leary (17-12-1) (Catchweight 160 lbs)

Lightweight prospect Soren Bak will return on Friday to face veteran Charlie Leary at a catchweight of 160-pounds.

Bak, a former interim Cage Warriors Champion, has scored two wins since joining Bellator in 2019. His last performance was a unanimous decision win against Bobby Lee in June 2021.

Leary is an MMA vet for over a decade and will be returning for his seventh Bellator fight on Friday. The 39-year-old was unsuccessful in his last fight, getting stopped just three months ago by Davy Gallon.

Bout 6: Fabacary Diatta (8-0) vs. Jordan Barton (6-2-1) (Featherweight)

Undefeated featherweight prospect Fabacary Diatta will meet Jordan Barton in the next prelim bout.

Diatta’s flawless pro record has developed in Bellator as of late. His two appearances for the promotion have resulted in unanimous decision wins, defeating Dominique Wooding and Nathan Rose.

Barton is fighting for his first Bellator win. He lost his promotional debut in November 2021, suffering a submission loss to prospect Ciaran Clarke.

Bout 7: Lewis Long (19-6) vs. Thibault Gouti (15-5) (Welterweight)

Former UFC fighter Thibault Gouti will make his Bellator debut on Friday in a fight against Lewis Long.

Gouti fought on the UFC roster from 2016 to 2018, posting just one win through six appearances. After taking some time off from 2018 to 2021, Gouti returned to the regional scene and picked up a trio of victories. Attempting to keep that momentum going, he’ll meet Long.

Long has showcased his grappling skills since joining Bellator in 2019, submitting three of his four opponents. His last win came in just 41 seconds, defeating Michael Dubois in October 2021.

Bout 8: Pedro Carvalho (12-5) vs. Piotr Niedzielski (16-4) (Featherweight)

The prelims are set to conclude with a fight between Pedro Carvalho and Piotr Niedzielski.

Carvalho is a Bellator veteran of seven fights. He snapped a two-fight skid in his last appearance, working toward a unanimous decision victory against the experienced name Daniel Weichel.

Niedzielski will be making his first appearance under the Bellator banner. The Polish talent is currently on an impressive eight-fight winning streak that has wins from as long as ago as 2017 to as recent as 2021.

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

Bout 9: Mike Shipman (14-3) vs. Gregory Babene (21-11) (Middleweight)

Returning to Bellator, Gregory Babene will meet Mike Shipman on Friday night.

Babene fought for Bellator from 2016 to 2017, earning three consecutive submission wins in that time. He is returning to the promotion after scoring two more submission wins on the regional scene.

Shipman is making his first appearance in over a year. He broke a two-fight losing streak in his last outing, defeating Pietro Penini on scorecards.

Bout 10: Lorenz Larkin (23-7) vs. Kyle Stewart (15-5) (Middleweight)

Veteran Lorenz Larkin will return on Saturday against fellow UFC alum Kyle Stewart.

Larkin has quietly put together a strong five-fight winning streak in Bellator since 2018, including many notable wins. His last fight saw him sneak by Rafael Carvalho with a split decision win in May 2021.

Stewart is making his Bellator debut in this fight, doing so after some years on the regional scene. He has produced a few wins in that time, scoring four victories through six fights since 2020. He fought just last month, defeating Zak Ottow on an XMMA card.

Bout 11: Davy Gallon (20-7-2) vs. Benjamin Brander (13-8) (Lightweight)

Lightweights Davy Gallon and Benjamin Brander will face off in the next fight on the main card.

Gallon has quickly attained two wins since joining Bellator in October 2021. He earned a finish victory in his last fight, stopping Charlie Leary just three months back.

Brander last appeared on the Bellator stage in 2019, when he had a quick loss to Chris Bungard. He is coming back to the promotion after a busy 2021, scoring two wins and one loss within a year’s time.

Bout 12: Yoel Romero (13-6) vs. Alex Polizzi (10-1) (Light Heavyweight)

Former UFC title challenger Yoel Romero will look for his first Bellator win on Friday night when he faces Alex Polizzi in the co-main event.

Romero lost his long-anticipated Bellator debut last year, dropping a split decision to Phil Davis in the main event of a card. This, along with the end of his UFC run, meant that Romero slipped into a four-fight losing streak. He’ll attempt to break that with a solid performance this weekend.

Polizzi took this fight on short notice, stepping in to replace veteran Melvin Manhoef. He is coming off a strong past 12 months, earning three wins inside the Bellator cage.

Bout 13: Ryan Bader (29-7) vs. Cheick Kongo (31-11-2) (Bellator Heavyweight Championship)

Meeting for the second time, Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader and experienced challenger Cheick Kongo will fight in Friday night’s main event.

The first fight between Kongo and Bader, a 2019 headlining bout at Bellator 226, produced an unsatisfying result. The match came to a close in the fourth minute due to an unintentional eye poke, causing a no contest result.

Since then, Bader has spent most of his time down at light heavyweight, where he was a champion up until 2019. He returned to heavyweight earlier this year, going five rounds against Valentin Moldavsky for a unanimous decision win. Bader has the chance to defend his belt for the second time when he competes on Friday night.

Before his first title shot against Bader, Kongo had an impressive eight-fight winning streak in Bellator. He has taken a loss since then, dropping a split decision to Tim Johnson. However, he is appearing on Friday after bouncing back last year with a victory against Sergei Kharitonov.

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