Bellator brings back the action with a tighty-focused action card featuring some of their more thrilling talents. That means some fighters looking to break apart from the pack, and a few more clawing their way back to their former standing.
But the main man at the top is perhaps the most central here. Gegard Mousasi (49-7, 2 draws) brings his wealth of expertise against undefeated American Top Team prospect Johnny Eblen (11-0). Eblen’s been doing everything right, from striking to wrestling to clinchwork, and might be able to outmuscle Mousasi while keeping his gas tank just right for the ride. Unfortunately, Eblen’s never fought a five-rounder before.
Mousasi’s got advantages with his clinch takedowns and his long-rangy striking. Add to that his submission game on the ground and increasingly vicious ground strikes, and well... it’s a tough one for Eblen. He may be up for the task, but he’s going to have to overcome a massive deficit to do so.
Mousasi also managed to make weight despite his crippling affliction. Bless up.
The bantamweight GP continues with two great matchups lined up. Danny Sabatello (12-1) remains more exciting with his chatter than his combat aesthetics. But that doesn’t mean he’s not good, just that his particular style isn’t for everyone - but it works. Sabatello’s talented at getting people down, keeping them there, then drowning them for long stretches. His opponent Leandro Higo (21-5) has faced some fine opposition, but never a wrestler quite like this. With wily striking and a good submission game, he’s got some avenues for success, but Sabatello’s not in the habit of ceding a single solitary inch.
Enrique Barzola (18-5, 2 draws) seems much revitalized in his two Bellator fights so far. His upset over Darrion Caldwell made a pretty big impression, but he’s got a major challenge ahead on a different level. Magomed Magomedov has the distinction of going 1-1 over former UFC title challenger Petr Yan, as well as an amateur win over Said Nurmagomedov.
Mavomedov is capable of doing smart, tactical damage from the outside and fend off the submission threat with reversals and reactive takedowns of his own. Barzola fights smart and has better boxing lately, but is it comparable to Magomedov’s striking? He might struggle at least early to make the takedowns click and keep Magomedov down, and Magomed has an aggressive submission game on the ground as well.
Alexander Shabily (21-3) is an absolute menace, and it’s a shame Bellator hasn’t made more noise about him. One of the finest signings in the recent history of the organization, he brings a lot to the table. He’s more than well-rounded, he’s got excellent finishing instincts and a lot of options to finish fights. He meets Brent Primus (11-2), a fantastic grappler that sets up his takedowns beautifully with his strikes but doesn’t have as many layers with his striking game. His powerful takedowns can make the difference, especially if he manages to establish more control early on.
Former UFC title challenger Cat Zingano (12-4) meets former Invicta standout Pam Sorenson (9-4), and Brennan Ward (15-6) gets to follow up his triumphant return to the sport against Kassius Kayne (12-7). Anatoly Tokov (30-3) meets Muhammad Abdullah (11-5), and Maycon Mendonça (11-5) faces Sabah Homasi (16-10) at welterweight.
Ilara Joanne (9-6) gets a shot against standout Alejandra “Azul“ Lara (9-5). Brazilian Killys Mota (12-3) is another name that probably should get more shine, and he has a chance to show out against Dan Moret (15-7). Former Contender Series contestant Aaron Jeffrey (11-3) moves to new pastures against Brazil’s Fabio Aguiar (18-2).
Finally, the always exciting Mandel Nallo (8-2) is scheduled to take on Bryce Logan (12-5) at lightweight.
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Johnny Eblen (185) – Bellator middleweight championship
Leandro Higo (134.75) vs. Danny Sabatello (134.75) – Bantamweight Grand Prix quarterfinal
Enrique Barzola (135) vs. Magomed Magomedov (135) – Bantamweight Grand Prix quarterfinal
Kassius Kayne (169.75) vs. Brennan Ward (171) - Welterweight
Dan Moret (155.5) vs. Killys Mota (155.5) - Lightweight
Lucas Brennan (145.75) vs. Johnny Soto (145.5) - Featherweight
Brent Primus (156) vs. Alexander Shabliy (155.75) - Lightweight
Pam Sorenson (146) vs. Cat Zingano (145.25) - Featherweight
Muhammad Abdullah (184.25) vs. Anatoly Tokov (186) - Middleweight
Sabah Homasi (170) vs. Maycon Mendonca (170.75) - Welterweight
Ilara Joanne (125) vs. Alejandra Lara (125.5) - Flyweight
James Gonzalez (145.75) vs. Cody Law (145.75) - Featherweight
Fabio Aguiar (184) vs. Aaron Jeffery (184.25) - Middleweight
Bryce Logan (156) vs. Mandel Nallo (155.5) - Lightweight
Bellator 282: Mousasi vs Eblen takes place this Friday night, with the YouTube prelims starting at 6:00pm EST. and the main card live and exclusively on Showtime starting at 9:00pm.