Bellator 289: Stots vs. Sabatello Preview

Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello pose at the Bellator ceremonial weigh-ins.
Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello will be one of the two grand prix bouts this weekend (Bellator MMA / Lucas Noonan)

Bellator is planning to head into the new year with the grand final of a tournament in place. Who exactly will get to be in that matchup isn’t known yet, but will be determined this Friday.

In matchups between Magomed Magomedov and Patchy Mix, as well as Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello, the question of who will fight in the end of the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix will be figured out by the end of the night from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.

Along with their grand prix bouts, a flyweight title fight rematch between Liz Carmouche and Juliana Velasquez will take place.

Here’s a preview of the night.

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

Preliminary Card (5:30PM EST) (Youtube)

Bout 1: Cass Bell (5-2) vs. Jared Scoggins (10-2) (Bantamweight)

Bantamweights Cass Bell and Jared Scoggins will begin the evening.

Bell first started climbing up the Bellator rankings when he debuted in 2018. He caught the eyes of many, as he quickly strung together five wins. This momentum was stopped in 2020, as now-champion Raufeon Stots submitted him in the third round of a bout via rear naked choke.

Bell has suffered a second loss since then, dropping a decision to Jornel Lugo in April 2021. After more than a year-and-a-half outside of the cage, he’ll look to break his sole losing streak in his return.

Scoggins will be fighting to come back from an unsuccessful Bellator debut. He had a five-fight winning streak broken in his first appearance for the promotion, getting stopped by strikes from Josh Hill in late 2021.

Bout 2: Patrick Downey (1-0) vs. Christian Echols (2-2) (Middleweight)

Hot off a successful debut in MMA, Patrick Downey will return against Christian Echols this weekend.

Downey, a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, made his MMA debut in August. He scored a quick 36-second arm triangle choke victory over winless pro Keyes Nelson to enter the win column.

Echols has an even pro record of two wins and two losses. His wins both came in 2022, submitting Dornes Butler and Travis Murchison within a minute each. His pro debut fight came against Tresean Gore, who is now on the UFC roster.

Bout 3: Mark Lemminger (12-5) vs. Michael Lombardo (12-3) (Welterweight)

Welterweights Mark Lemminger and Michael Lombardo will fight next.

Lemminger’s Bellator run has been mostly unsuccessful since joining two years ago. His record with the promotion currently sits at two wins and four losses. His last fight was in May when Oliver Enkamp submitted him with a buggy choke.

Lombardo lost his Bellator debut in April, dropping a decision to Kyle Crutchmer. He previously had a win in the PFL and on the UFC TV show “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Bout 4: Kevin Boehm (9-5) vs. Kai Kamaka III (9-5-1) (Featherweight)

UFC alum Kai Kamaka III will return against Kevin Boehm as part of Friday’s prelims.

Boehm had a tough Bellator debut in July, going up against undefeated prospect Akhmed Magomedov. He lasted just over a minute in that contest before getting submitted with a rear naked choke. He previously had success in regional promotions like CageSport and King of the Cage.

Kamaka III moved over to Bellator last year after a four-fight UFC run. He was successful in his first bout for them, winning a decision over John de Jesus. This weekend he has the goal of bouncing back from a split decision loss to Justin Gonzales.

Bout 5: Cody Law (6-1) vs. Cris Lencioni (9-3) (Featherweight)

Attempting to come back from his first pro loss, Cody Law will face Cris Lencioni.

Law suffered a massive upset loss in June, dropping a fight to James Gonzalez on scorecards. He was a blue-chip prospect before then, attaining six wins – five of which came via finish.

Lencioni is returning to Bellator this weekend. He has fought for the promotion before but has been absent from their programming for more than two years.

Lencioni has attained two consecutive wins on the regional scene as of late. In April, he overcame UFC alum Drako Rodriguez. He secured a quick submission victory against Talon Hoffman four months after that.

Bout 6: Kyle Crutchmer (9-1) vs. Jaleel Willis (15-4) (Welterweight)

Welterweight Bellator vets Kyle Crutchmer and Jaleel Willis have been paired up for the undercard.

Crutchmer is one of the rising names in Bellator’s welterweight division. He has been with the promotion since 2019 and is currently riding a three-fight winning streak. His last win came in April over Michael Lombardo.

Willis has picked up two wins and two losses since returning to Bellator in late 2020. He is currently on a two-fight skid after suffering first-round submission losses to Mukhamed Berkhamov and Sabah Homasi.

Bout 7: Denise Kielholtz (6-4) vs. Ilara Joanne (10-6) (Flyweight)

Former title challenger Denise Kielholtz will take on Ilara Joanne in the final prelim on Friday night.

Kielholtz has a two-fight losing streak in MMA. In 2021, she lost a title fight to Juliana Velasquez in a split decision outcome. She has also lost to Kana Watanabe this year, getting submitted with a triangle choke by the RIZIN alum.

Kielholtz is coming off a win in combat sports more generally speaking, as she beat Laura Pileri at a HIT IT card two months ago.

Joanne snapped a two-fight skid in June, overcoming Alejandra Lara via decision. The fight was her first win since her Bellator debut in 2019.

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

Bout 8: Dalton Rosta (7-0) vs. Anthony Adams (9-2) (Middleweight)

Undefeated Dalton Rosta will look to extend his winning streak when he faces Anthony Adams in the kick-off spot for the main card.

Rosta has yet to lose since he debuted for Bellator in 2019. His last fight was definitely his biggest challenge yet, as he took on fellow promotional prospect Romero Cotton in July. Rosta prevailed in the appearance, finishing Cotton early in the third round with punches. The fight was Cotton’s first time losing as a pro.

Adams pulled off an upset in his Bellator debut last year, defeating Khalid Murtazaliev on scorecards. He was listed around +300 on many sportsbooks heading into that bout. Previous experience includes an LFA fight and two appearances on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Bout 9: Magomed Magomedov (19-2) vs. Patchy Mix (16-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout)

The first of two grand prix bouts will take place next, as Magomed Magomedov and Patchy Mix will compete.

Magomedov joined this tournament with something to prove. He lost a fight in 2021 to Raufeon Stots, marking his first defeat since entering Bellator in 2020. The tournament allowed him to start a second quest towards a title fight and possibly avenge a loss to Stots (and that possibility could still remain alive if this weekend produces a certain result).

Magomedov started his tournament run with a victory over former UFC fighter Enrique Barzola, submitting him in the fourth round of a quarter-final bout against Enrique Barzola.

Mix has been a highly successful fighter since entering Bellator in 2019. He has climbed up their ranks, with his only loss through seven appearances being a 2020 title fight against Juan Archuleta.

Mix beat a former champion to start his campaign in the bracket, going five rounds against Kyoji Horiguchi in April for a comfortable unanimous decision victory.

Bout 10: Liz Carmouche (17-7) vs. Juliana Velasquez (12-1) (Bellator Flyweight Championship)

Juliana Velasquez will try to regain the Bellator Flyweight Championship and avenge her sole pro loss when she faces Liz Carmouche in Friday’s co-main event.

Carmouche became champion in April with a finish victory late in the fourth round against Velasquez. This win was massive for the former UFC title challenger, as it capped off a quick run up the Bellator ranks which included three prior wins since September 2020.

But Carmouche’s title victory came with some controversy. Some thought that the outcome of the fight was somewhat of an early stoppage – this is a claim that Carmouche has denied.

Velasquez had an undefeated record before her defeat in April. She first claimed the title in late 2020, dethroning Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and ending a reign that lasted more than three years.

She defended her belt once, going the distance in 2021 against Denise Kielholtz to win a split decision.

Bout 11: Raufeon Stots (18-1) vs. Danny Sabatello (13-1) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout)

The finals for Bellator’s bantamweight grand prix will be finalized in Friday’s main event, as Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatellon will compete in a five-round bout.

It’s worth noting that this bout is also a fight for Bellator’s interim bantamweight title – a belt that Stots currently possesses.

Stots became interim champion during the quarter-finals of the tournament in April, stopping former titleholder Juan Archuleta in the third round with a head kick. This title fight came after a slow but steady ascension up the Bellator ranks, picking up five wins since 2019.

Sabatello has spent significantly less time in Bellator, yet he has the chance to become one of the top bantamweights this weekend. The former Titan FC Bantamweight Champion has scored three big wins since joining the promotion. In 2021, he won his Bellator debut over UFC alum Brett Johns. Then this year, he took the undefeated record of Jornel Lugo with a unanimous decision.

Sabatello’s bracket run started in June, as he went the distance against Leandro Higo to secure a unanimous decision win.

This fight has been billed by many as a grudge match due to the large number of hostile exchanges that the fighters have had during the build-up to the fight. Not only will a title find its new home for a few months and the end of a bracket will be figured out, but beef will be settled as well.

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