Bellator 188 is set to take place from Tel Aviv, Israel despite losing its main event title fight between featherweight champ Patricio Freire and challenger Daniel Weichel. As they say in the entertainment biz, the show must go on, so the new main event will see Israel’s own Noad Lahat taking on the 11-5 Jeremiah Labiano. The co-main event will witness the owner of a 6-fight finishing streak, John Salter, take on a fellow athlete that has also never seen a judges decision in his professional career, Jason Radcliffe. Between the 12-4 Radcliffe and the 14-3 Salter, that’s 33 fights with 33 finishes, so it’s probably best to avoid blinking for that one. There will be a ton of Israeli talent on display in the undercard, so look for Bellator ring announcer Michael C. Williams to bring the lumber with some pretty proper pronunciation.
Bellator 188 can be seen this Friday night, on Spike TV at 9:00 P.M. ET (One-Day Tape Delay).
Main Card: Spike TV
Noad Lahat (11-3 MMA; 2-1 Bellator) vs. Jeremiah Labiano (11-5 MMA; 2-1 Bellator): Featherweight
Noad Lahat is looking to bounce back into the winner’s circle following a unanimous decision loss to Henry Corrales at Bellator 182 back in August of this year. After his departure from the UFC, Lahat made a splash in the Bellator talent pool with a 2:26 RNC of Scott Cleve at Bellator 164, and then went on to pick up an RNC technical submission of Lloyd Carter at Bellator 175. Yes, a tech sub means that dude went to sleeeeep! Lahat has a knack for the chokes, as all six of his sub wins involved strangling his opposition, so don’t be too shocked if you see this bout result in lucky #7.
Jeremiah Labiano has pieced together back-to-back wins, including a five-round decision over Stephen Cervantes to capture the vacant Conquer FC featherweight title. The last time we saw Labiano inside of a Viacom cage, he scored a unanimous nod over Vince Murdock at Bellator 165 back in November of 2016. Labiano has never lost by submission in his professional career, but will his record remain that way after locking horns with Lahat?
John Salter (14-3 MMA; 4-0 Bellator) vs. Jason Radcliffe (12-4 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Middleweight
John Salter is a straight savage! The man has put together an impressive 6-fight winning streak dating back to 2013, finishing five of those foes in the 1st round, and starching the other one before the 3rd. Recently, Salter has been seen subbing some pretty notable names such as; Dustin Jacoby, Brandon Halsey, and longtime vet Kendall Grove, with the tech sub of Grove occurring at Bellator 181 this past July. Yes, a tech sub means that dude went to sleeeeep! Out of 17 professional bouts, Salter has yet to see a decision, and has only been to the 3rd round twice, and even that was back in 2010.
Jason Radcliffe is an athletic physical specimen that looks the part, and actually plays the part, as each of his 12 victories have come by way of finish. Radcliffe has recently suffered a series of set backs; first a :32 TKO loss to Oskar Piechota at CWFC 85 this past June, and then a 2nd round TKO loss to Shane Mitchell at DFC 4 back in October of this year. Is John Salter the sort of opponent that Radcliffe could take advantage of in order to return to his winning ways? Like Salter, Radcliffe has only lost by going out on his shield, so if there was ever a fight in which the judges would not be needed, it’s this one.
Jessica Middleton (2-2 MMA; 2-2 Bellator) vs. Denise Kielholtz (0-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): (W) Flyweight
Jessica Middleton is cutting her teeth inside of the Bellator promotion, as each of her four professional bouts have taken place within the organization. Middleton picked up back-to-back W’s to jump start her pro career, but has since dropped a set of bouts as she now looks to return to the win column. Middleton’s 1st career loss came by way of a 1st round Armbar to the now Bellator flyweight queen, Ilima Macfarlane, and then she recently dropped a unanimous decision to title challenger Emily Ducote this past July. Now facing an opponent with an 0-1 record, Middleton will now get the distinct privilege of holding the advantage in the experience department.
Denise Kielholtz will be making her Bellator MMA debut, after having already competed for Bellator Kickboxing in a split decision loss to Gloria Peritore at Bellator 157: Dynamite 2. Look for Kielholtz to work the same sort of punching combinations to leg kick that we saw in her bout with Peritore, and since she dropped her pro MMA debut by Armbar, expect Kielholtz to try and keep this one on the feet.
Haim Gozali (7-4 MMA; 1-1 Bellator) vs. Arsen Faitovich (4-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight
The 44-year old-Haim Gozali looks to move to 2-1 inside of the Bellator promotion, following a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Couture at Bellator NYC back in June of this year. Israel’s own Gozali made his promotional debut in spectacular fashion with a brilliant Heel Hook of Zane Clark at just 1:41 into the opening round. Will Gozali get back to the winner’s circle by besting a Bellator newcomer in front of a home crowd?
Ukrainian fighter, Arsen Faitovich, sports a 4-1 record as he makes his Bellator debut in enemy territory. Each of Faitovich’s fights have ended before ever reaching the 3rd round, picking up two TKO’s and two submissions (RNC & Anaconda). At 24 years of age, Gozali will be facing a competitor that is 20 years his senior, so it’s fair to say that he will possess the bulk of the physical advantages here. Will Gozali overcome the hostel crowd to earn a win in his promotional debut?
Almog Shay (2-1 MMA; 1-0 Bellator) vs. Luiz Rocha (3-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): Bantamweight
After weight cutting issues forced Kirill Medvedovski off of the card, fellow Israeli Almog Shay will step in to soak up some of that main card shine. Shay won his Bellator/professional debut with a quick Heel Hook submission of Vitaly Khmeinytsky at just 1:45 into the 1st round at Bellator 164. Can Shay make the most of his call up to the main card? Luiz Rocha is set to make his promotional debut, as the Pitbull Brothers protege sports a 3-1 record, with the lone loss coming by way of disqualification. This will be Rocha’s first professional bout outside of his native country of Brazil, and should not expect to receive much of any crowd support as he will be fighting an Israeli in Israel.