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Bellator 216: MVP vs. Daley main card preview

Here’s the breakdown for Saturday’s Bellator 216 main card, including heavyweight title eliminator between former champ Vitaly Minakov and Cheick Kongo.

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The second installment of Bellator’s double header kicks off this Saturday from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. Bellator 216 will be capped off with the long awaited bout between the veteran striker Paul Daley and the undefeated sharpshooter Michael “Venom” Page. That matchup will get its own preview post as this write-up will cover the rest of the main card.

The co-main event for Bellator 216 will be a heavyweight title eliminator to see who will be first to face the newly crowned champ Ryan Bader. Longtime MMA veteran Cheick Kongo will be rematching Bellator’s last heavyweight champ, Vitaly Minakov, who will be making his return to the promotion.

Another big-name heavyweight rematch is on the books as the 23-16 Roy Nelson and the 37-11-2 Mirko Cro Cop run back a UFC fight that took place way back in 2011. Cro Cop will be making his Bellator debut. Before that, another familiar face will be making his promotional debut when Erick Silva takes on the undefeated 20-0 “Dynamo” Yaroslav Amosov. Opening up the main card, Taekwondo standout Valerie Loureda will be making her professional/Bellator debut in a flyweight tilt with the 1-2 Colby Fletcher.

For an in-depth breakdown of each Bellator 216 main card fight, check out The MMA Vivisection with Bloody Elbow’s own Zane Simon, Vic Rodriguez, and Eddie Mercado. Stay glued to Bloody Elbow for all of your event coverage including play-by-play, results, highlights, and more!

Bellator 216 takes place this Saturday, February 16, and will air live on DAZN at 10:00 P.M. ET. The prelims will begin at 7 P.M. ET.

Main card:

Vitaly Minakov (21-0 MMA; 5-0 Bellator) vs. Cheick Kongo (29-10-2 MMA; 11-2 Bellator): Heavyweight

Vitaly Minakov captured Bellator’s heavyweight belt with a first round stoppage of Alexander Volkov at Bellator 108 back in 2013. After successfully defending his belt in a rather dominant decision win over Cheick Kongo at Bellator 115, Minakov took his talents back to Russia. Bellator’s heavyweight title was left vacant until Ryan Bader won the heavyweight Grand Prix back in January of this year. Since his departure from the Viacom promotion, Minakov has ran through seven-straight opponents earning seven-straight finishes. With Bader now needing a challenger for his heavyweight belt, it seems like the perfect time for Minakov to make his return to Bellator.

Believe it or not, Cheick Kongo has been with the Bellator promotion for five years now. Where has the time gone? Kongo has quietly posted up an 11-2 run with the promotion, including seven in a row. In 2018, Kongo took out the likes of Javy Ayala and UFC veteran Tim Johnson with strikes, both of them in the first round. Skipping out on Bellator’s heavyweight GP has perfectly positioned Kongo in a number one contender match. What can Kongo do differently from his first bout with Minakov to get the win and get back to a title shot?

Roy Nelson (23-16 MMA; 1-2 Bellator) vs. Mirko Cro Cop (37-11-2 MMA; Bellator Debut): Heavyweight

Roy Nelson has been struggling a bit under the Bellator banner. After winning a unanimous decision over Javy Ayala in his promotional debut, Nelson fell short to Matt Mitrione in the opening round of the heavyweight GP by majority decision. To make matters worse, Nelson was knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov with just one second remaining in the opening round at Bellator 207 this past October. In his initial meeting with Cro Cop, Nelson was able to stop his foe with ground strikes in the third round. Does “Big Country” have enough left in the tank to produce a similar result and get himself back into the win column?

Since departing from the UFC on a win, Cro Cop went over to RIZIN FF and annihilated six-straight opponents. He dusted the shell of Tsuyoshi Kosaka but also took out King Mo, so it was a mixed bag in terms of level of opposition. Cro Cop even scored an arm triangle submission in one of those bouts. At 44 years of age, Cro Cop has lost a step in his athleticism and sharpness, but he’s still possesses tremendous power in his hands and legs. Fun fact: Cro Cop has never lost a rematch. Will that remain the case at Bellator 216? Right leg hospital; left leg cemetery?

Erick Silva (20-9 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (20-0 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Welterweight

A lot of people had Erick Silva pegged as the future of MMA. That turned out to not be the case as the expected trajectory of Silva never quite panned out. After a 7-8 run with the UFC, Silva went over to LFA and secured a first-round armbar of Nick Barnes. At age 34, Silva has a lot of miles on his body, but can the former “prospect” find new life with a new promotion in Bellator?

Yaroslav Amosov came to the Bellator promotion with an unblemished 19-0 record, plus a bunch of other combat sambo bouts under his belt. “Dynamo” made good on his promotional debut by running away with the scorecards against UFC veteran Gerald Harris. Amosov showed off a rather rounded attack against Harris, throwing volume on the feet and owning the grappling exchanges. Another testament to the well-roundedness of Amosov is the way he finishes his opponents. With eight knockouts and 9 submissions on his resume, Amosov has proven to be dangerous in all areas of MMA.

Valerie Loureda (Professional/Bellator Debut) vs. Colby Fletcher (1-2 MMA; Bellator Debut): (W) Flyweight

Valerie Loureda is set to make her professional MMA debut with the Bellator promotion. Loureda has a strong background in Taekwondo, and will be looking to transition into the world of mixed martial arts. Welcoming Loureda to the game will be the 1-2 Colby Fletcher. After winning her pro debut by armbar, Fletcher lost by armbar in 63 seconds to now UFC flyweight Montana De La Rosa. Then, she was TKO’d by now Bellator veteran Alice Yauger in 1:53 of round one. Fletcher hasn’t fought since 2015, so who really knows what to expect in this matchup.

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