Bellator 282: Mousasi vs. Eblen Preview

Gegard Mousasi, holding a championship, poses with Johnny Eblen at a ceremonial weigh-ins.
Gegard Mousasi and Johnny Eblen will meet in Friday’s main event (Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)

Perfection: it’s something that many strive for, yet few achieve. Perfection is not the way you can describe any fighter unless you are talking about stats on paper, as everyone is flawed in one sense or another. In that case, middleweight Johnny Eblen, on paper at least, is perfection. Through 11 pro fights, he has yet to lose.

Eblen will look to keep that perfect record alive this weekend while also seeking champion status, as he will face Bellator middleweight titleholder and veteran of the sport, Gegard Mousasi.

Their fight is scheduled to headline Bellator 282 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. Here’s a full preview of the show.

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

Preliminary Card (6:00PM EDT) (Youtube)

Bout 1: Bryce Logan (12-6) vs. Mandel Nallo (8-2) (Lightweight)

Bellator vets Bryce Logan and Mandel Nallo will open the night.

Nallo has been on the Bellator roster since 2017, first joining them with a record of just five wins. He suffered a finish loss in his last appearance, losing to former LFA champ Nick Browne in February.

Logan has yet to win through two Bellator appearances. In prior fights, he lost on scorecards against Georgi Karakhanyan and Mike Hamel.

Bout 2: Aaron Jeffery (11-3) vs. Fabio Aguiar (18-2) (Middleweight)

Former CFFC Middleweight Champion Aaron Jeffery will make his Bellator debut on Friday night, facing Fabio Aguiar.

Jeffery has been putting together a solid record on the regional scene in recent years. Two of his losses have come in recent years on UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Jeffery earned CFFC’s 185-pound belt in his last fight, going four rounds against PFL alum Rex Harris for a decision victory in January.

Aguiar appeared in Bellator twice last year, picking up a win and a loss. His last fight was a decision win over Taylor Johnson.

Bout 3: Lucas Brennan (6-0) vs. Johnny Soto (4-2) (Featherweight)

22-year-old undefeated featherweight prospect Lucas Brennan will return Friday to face Johnny Soto.

Brennan has been built up by Bellator since he debuted as a pro for them in 2019. He has been dominant against opponents, finishing five of the six that he has faced. He last fought in January, submitting Ben Lugo in the first round.

Soto had a four-fight winning streak broken in his last Bellator appearance, as Adil Benjilany pulled off a decision victory over him. He had previously pulled off an upset win in the promotion, handing Weber Almeida his first pro loss.

Bout 4: Dan Moret (15-7) vs. Killys Mota (12-3) (Lightweight)

In a lightweight pairing, Dan Moret and Killys Mota are expected to face off.

Mota made a splash in his 2019 Bellator debut, becoming the first person to hand Mandel Nallo a loss. He has struggled since then, losing fights against Derek Anderson and Mike Hamel.

Moret, a former UFC fighter, had a two-fight winning streak broken last year. Facing short-notice opponent Spike Carlyle, Moret was submitted late with a rear naked choke in what was remembered as a massive comeback win for Carlyle.

Bout 5: Cody Law (6-0) vs. James Gonzalez (8-5) (Featherweight)

Undefeated prospect Cody Law will return on Friday night, facing James Gonzalez.

Law has quickly scored half-a-dozen wins since turning pro in 2020, and all of them have come in the Bellator cage. His last win was a quick performance, defeating short-notice opponent James Adcock in just 77 seconds.

Gonzalez has spent recent years in regional promotions Ring of Combat and CFFC. He is coming off a loss, dropping a split decision to Phil Caracappa in February.

Bout 6: Alejandra Lara (9-5) vs. Ilara Joanne (9-6) (Flyweight)

Both fighting to break losing streaks, Bellator flyweights Alejandra Lara and Ilara Joanne will meet on Friday’s prelims.

Lara has a lengthy history with Bellator that includes eight fights and a 2018 title fight. She fell into a two-fight skid last year, losing bouts to Kana Watanabe and DeAnna Bennett.

Lara has gotten out of a two-fight slump before, notably breaking a similar streak in 2019.

Joanne, on the other hand, has had a shorter Bellator run. She won her promotional debut in 2019, submitting Bec Rawlings. She has struggled since then, losing two bouts from 2019 to 2021.

Bout 7: Sabah Homasi (16-10) vs. Maycon Mendonca (11-5) (Welterweight)

Fighting to bounce back from an unsuccessful Bellator debut, Maycon Mendonca will meet Sabah Homasi on Friday’s prelims.

Mendonca, a former LFA Welterweight Champion, made his Bellator debut last year against Jaleel Willis. He lost that bout, dropping a unanimous decision in May 2021.

He’s now set to face Homasi, a former UFC fighter that has put on explosive fights as of late. He returned to the win column earlier this year, submitting Jaleel Willis early with an arm triangle choke.

Homasi and Mendonca made headlines Thursday, as they had to be separated at the promotion’s ceremonial weigh-ins.

Bout 8: Anatoly Tokov (30-3) vs. Muhammad Abdullah (11-5) (Middleweight)

Anatoly Tokov will return on Friday night, facing Muhammad Abdullah at middleweight.

Tokov will be making his first U.S. MMA appearance in more than two years. His last fight was at Bellator’s Russia card in October 2021, defeating Sharaf Davlatmurodov in a decision result. That appearance was his sixth consecutive win for the promotion.

Abdullah has struggled on the regional circuit in recent years, trading wins and losses against some of the tougher names in the scene.

Bout 9: Cat Zingano (12-4) vs. Pam Sorenson (9-4) (Featherweight)

Former UFC talent Cat Zingano will attempt to keep her Bellator run going this weekend when she faces Pam Sorenson.

Zingano joined Bellator after a UFC run that saw her earn three wins and four losses. She won her promotional debut for Bellator in 2020, defeating Gabrielle Holloway on scorecards. She had a much quicker win in her last outing, submitting Olivia Parker in the first round of a bout in April 2021.

Sorenson has earned a win and a loss since joining Bellator. She last faced former title challenger Arlene Blencowe, who beat her on scorecards.

Bout 10: Brent Primus (11-2) vs. Alexander Shabliy (21-3) (Lightweight)

Rising lightweight talent Alexander Shabliy will face Bellator vet Brent Primus as part of Friday’s prelims.

Shabliy joined Bellator in 2021 with a strong record of 19 wins and three losses. He has earned two decision victories since becoming a Bellator talent, beating Alfie Davis and Bobby King last year.

Primus, a fighter that has been on the Bellator roster since his third-ever pro bout, should be a good test for Shabliy. He bounced back from just his second pro defeat in October 2021, defeating the experienced name Benson Henderson on scorecards.

Main Card (9:00PM EDT) (Showtime)

Bout 11: Brennan Ward (15-6) vs. Kassius Kayne (12-7) (Welterweight)

In the second fight of Brennan Ward’s return, he will face Kassius Kayne.

Ward returned to competition in February with a finish win over Brandon Bell. This was his first fight since 2017 and came after a profile piece from MMA Junkie detailed how drug addiction previously derailed his career. After his inspiring performance earlier this year, Ward will compete for his second victory of the year.

He’s facing Kayne, who is a step up in competition compared to his previous opponent. Kayne scored a win in his last fight, defeating Montrel James at DCS 78. Kayne has notably struggled in the promotion LFA, where he attained one win through four appearances.

Bout 12: Magomed Magomedov (18-2) vs. Enrique Barzola (18-5-2) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)

The Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix will continue on Friday night’s main card. As a refresher, this tournament kicked off in April at Bellator 279. Raufeon Stots and Patchy Mix won their respective bouts on that card, putting them into the semi-finals.

The winner of Friday’s two fights will face those previously victorious talents. In the case of the fight between Magomed Magomedov and Enrique Barzola, the winner will face Mix.

Barzola earned his spot in the tournament earlier this year, defeating Nikita Mikhailov in a wild card bout. This win came just three months after he was successful in his promotional debut, beating former champ Darrion Caldwell via finish.

Magomedov will be fighting to come back from his first Bellator defeat. That fight came in August 2021, when now-interim champ Stots beat him on scorecards. A win on Friday could line Magomedov up for a rematch against Stots in the bracket final if the stars align.

Bout 13: Leandro Higo (21-5) vs. Danny Sabatello (12-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)

In the other quarter-final bout, Leandro Higo and Danny Sabatello will compete. The winner of this fight will face interim champ Raufeon Stots in the next round.

Similar to Enrique Barzola, Sabatello earned his bracket spot through a wild card win. The former Titan FC Bantamweight Champion handed Jornel Lugo his first pro loss in that fight, cruising to a safe unanimous decision victory in April. Before then, Sabatello made waves last year with an upset victory over former UFC fighter Brett Johns.

Higo, a Bellator vet of seven appearances, is riding the longest winning streak of his promotional run thus far. He has scored three consecutive victories since 2019, including a 2021 split decision victory over Darrion Caldwell.

Bout 14: Gegard Mousasi (49-7-2) vs. Johnny Eblen (11-0) (Bellator Middleweight Championship)

In a pairing between a vet and a rising contender, Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi and undefeated Johnny Eblen will meet in Friday’s main event.

Eblen has had a steady climb up Bellator’s middleweight ranks through recent years. He first joined them in 2019 with a pro record of four wins. He has since picked up many victories, with most going the distance. He beat veteran and former title challenger John Salter in his last appearance, beating him on scorecards in March. Since his last win came against a name that was recently in a title position, it’s no surprise that Eblen is now getting his own crack at the champ.

While Eblen has faced many tests throughout his career, Friday is undoubtedly a leap in difficulty. He will be facing a name that has seen success throughout two decades in the sport and has earned belts throughout his career.

Mousasi is a former DREAM, Strikeforce, and Cage Warriors champion. He has also earned the middleweight belt in Bellator and is currently amid his second run with the belt.

His ongoing title reign started in October 2020, when he went five rounds against welterweight champ Douglas Lima to earn the then-vacant belt. He defended the belt for the first time in 2021, defeating the aforementioned Salter in a third-round stoppage.

In arguably his most impressive performance of the run yet, Mousasi beat undefeated challenger Austin Vanderford in just 85 seconds in February with strikes. After one quick performance against a name boasting a flawless record, Mousasi has the chance to do it again this weekend.

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