This past weekend, Bellator hosted two event from Hawaii and perhaps a new star was truly born on night two. Patchy Mix (18-1) became the interim featherweight champion when he knocked Raufeon Stots out with a perfect knee in the first round. This shot also netted Mix the Grand Prix championship and $1 million.
Right now, Bellator is on a roll and has really produced some of the best talent in the sport. In fact, you can make the argument that this is the most competitive that another promotion has been with the UFC since Pride in terms of the talent of their best fighters.
There’s been a lot of conversation lately surrounding the champions in Bellator against the champions in the UFC. I started thinking about it myself and wanted to throw out there which champions would have the best chance to take down a current UFC champion. In this, I decided to break it down into two categories: Little to No Chance and Competitive to Favorite.
Bellator champs who would be very competitive and maybe favored
Think about this, Bellator has nine current champions. There’s four current scenarios that I just don’t see any scenario where they defeat the current UFC champion. All of the other champions would have very good fights and could definitely give the UFC a run for their money if not win the fight.
Usman Nurmagomedov (17-0), Vadim Nemkov (16-2), Yaroslav Amosov (27-0), Cris Cyborg (26-2), and Liz Carmouche (19-7) would all give the UFC fighters a run for their money. Let’s start with Carmouche. Now, if Valentina Shevchenko was still champion, I would probably put Carmouche in the other category since we’ve seen that fight multiple times.
However, Alexa Grasso (16-3) has a big hole in her game that she showed in the Shevchenko fight. She needs to improve her takedown defense drastically. Carmouche’s physical style could definitely cause some problems for her. On the feet, Grasso has a major advantage. However, the strength of Carmouche is a weakness of Grasso and that definitely would create a competitive fight.
Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes (22-5) have fought. It lasted 51 seconds with Nunes winning. It was a wild brawl where Nunes was just too clean in terms of technique. If Cyborg fought patient and tried to be more physical with grappling, she could definitely give Nunes a run for her money.
Yaroslav Amosov and Leon Edwards (21-3, 1 NC) would be a helluva fight. However, the volume striking and grappling pressure of Amosov could give Edwards a ton of problems. That style is why I also think Colby Covington will give Leon Edwards problems. This is a scenario where I’d probably pick the Bellator champion.
Vadim Nemkov and Jamahal Hill (12-1) would be a lot of fun. Hill has ungodly power and he’s just a dog. However, Nemkov has incredible striking technique and unbelievable takedown defense. If Nemkov fought smart and used his kicks and technical striking, I can easily see him defeating Jamahal Hill over five rounds.
Usman Nurmagomedov against Islam Makhachev (24-1) is a dream fight we will never get. Why? Well, these two are training partners and basically brothers. That doesn’t mean we can’t dream of a fight between the two men. If they were to fight, it would be something to behold.
Nurmagomedov and Makhachev both have solid striking, but I like Nurmagomedov’s kicks to give him the advantage. While the grappling skill would be a wash, I would give the strength advantage to Islam Makhachev. Cardio, I’d probably lean towards Nurmagomedov from what I’ve seen.
This would be such a fun fight because the two would cancel each other out so well. Honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin with that prediction.
Little to No Chance
Now to the champs that I don’t think could hang and it starts at the very top with Ryan Bader (31-7). Ryan Bader is 6-0 in the Bellator heavyweight division and he’s been sensational there. He’s definitely one of the better heavyweights in the world. However, he’s not Jon Jones (27-1, 1 NC).
Jones is the greatest fighter of all time and honestly, it’s hard to think of a close second at this time. Jones and Bader fought early in their careers with Jones running through him. I’m not saying it would be that one-sided, but I don’t see Bader being competitive with Jones.
Sergio Pettis (22-5) would be my next pick of a champion who wouldn’t have much to offer the best in the UFC. Now, Patchy Mix on the other hand, I definitely think he could hold his own. However, I don’t even see Pettis being the best bantamweight in the promotion. I don’t see him defeating Aljamain Sterling (22-3) or Henry Cejudo (16-2).
The next champ I wouldn’t give much of a chance to is Johnny Eblen (13-0). If this was a month ago, I’d say that Eblen would be favored to beat the UFC champion. However, Israel Adesanya (24-2) has regained the throne and I don’t see Eblen hanging with him.
I don’t think Eblen would be able to take Stylebender down and the fight on the feet would be a one-sided technical beating. Eblen would have dragged Alex Pereira around the octagon, but he’s not defeating Israel Adesanya.
My last pick for a champion with little to no chance is going to upset Bellator fans probably, but the champion who I don’t see having much of a chance is Patricio Pitbull (35-5). Pitbull is the most decorated fighter to have ever fought in the promotion.
He’s on his way to becoming a three-division champion with an upcoming fight at 135 against Sergio Pettis. However, for this question, we are focusing on featherweight. I’m sorry, there’s no world where I see Patricio Pitbull beating Alexander Volkanovski (25-2).
It’s unique how these two men are actually similar in stature and fight in a similar manner. The problem for Pitbull is I just think Volkanovski holds too many advantages. Faster, stronger, better striking technique, and I could go on. I think Pitbull could hold his own, but I don’t envision any scenario where he wins that fight.
My final thoughts are this: Bellator has done an unbelievable job acquiring and developing talent over the last several years. A few years ago, people would have laughed at you if you tried to compare the UFC champions with the Bellator champions.
Well, who is laughing now? While if you went division by division, the UFC champions would be a big favorite to win the majority of the nine fights, there are a ton of very close matchups in there. If at the end of the day the final count was 5-4, I wouldn’t be shocked at all.