Illness forces Rumble Johnson out of Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Anthony Rumble Johnson

Bellator 268 was dealt a major blow today. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (23-6) announced via his Instagram page that he is incredibly sick and he’s having to pull out of the fight next month. Rumble was set to take on the light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (14-2).

Johnson said today, “Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I really am. Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God Willing. Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rumble who is clearly dealing with a tremendous illness. At this point, there’s no telling on when or if he will be able to return to Bellator. This is a massive blow to the promotion who had built so much hype surrounding Rumble in this tournament.

This is the second time that Bellator has had to alter their plans. Originally, they wanted Rumble to face Yoel Romero in the opening round of the Grand Prix. However, Romero had to pull out of the fight after failing to pass medicals. Now, Rumble’s illness is taking him out of the Grand Prix as well.

Bellator’s Next Steps

At this point, there is no word on what Bellator is going to do. They are planning on having Vadim Nemkov defend his title and compete, but there has not been a decision made on who will fight him. My guess is that they will wait until tonight’s main event concludes.

Tonight at Bellator 266, Yoel Romero and Phil Davis will battle it out. Davis lost to Nemkov in the opening round of the Grand Prix while Romero wasn’t able to compete as mentioned above. If Romero wins tonight and comes out clean, I could see Bellator asking him to step in to face Nemkov on short notice.

However, if Davis wins, I find it unlikely that they will ask him considering he’s already lost twice to Nemkov and lost to him in the opening round. Another option could be Jose Augusto Azevedo who lost to Rumble in the opening round. Time will tell, but this is a big blow to the Bellator Grand Prix.

Bellator 266 Preview: Yoel Romero – Phil Davis

Tomorrow night in the main event of Bellator 266, we will see one of the more highly anticipated promotional debuts in some time. The Solider of God, Yoel Romero (13-5), will be making his return and Bellator debut as he takes on Phil Davis (22-6).

This is the first time Romero will have competed since March of last year when he lost a middleweight title fight to Israel Adesanya. This will also be Romero’s first fight in the light heavyweight division in years.

Romero was set to fight Uriah Hall in the UFC late last year, however, he had to pull out of the fight. Just a couple of months later, Romero was shockingly released by the UFC and ended up signing with Bellator.

The promotion put him in their Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. However, Romero was pulled off the Grand Prix due to medical issues. He’s now been cleared and he’s ready to take on the former Bellator light heavyweight champion.

Like Romero was supposed to be, Phil Davis was in the Grand Prix. Davis lost to the current champion Vadim Nemkov. That loss snapped a three fight win streak for Davis. Overall, Davis is now 9-3 since making the jump to Bellator.

Bellator 266 Prediction

For years, we saw Yoel Romero struggle to make the middleweight limit in the UFC. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks now that he’s not having to cut the extra 20 pounds for his Bellator debut.

Romero is just a question mark because in spots, he looks like one of the greatest fighters you’ve ever seen. However, in other spots, he confuses you with his lack of aggressiveness.

Phil Davis has an incredibly well-rounded game, but he might be without his biggest weapon in this fight. Davis is known for his wrestling, but he might have struggles against the former Olympic Silver Medalist Romero.

I actually think a lot of the Bellator 266 main event is going to take place on the feet. With that, I’m expecting Romero to get the nod. I don’t think we will see a finish tomorrow, but I believe Romero will land bigger shots that’ll ultimately sway the judges.

Prediction: Yoel Romero by Unanimous Decision

Bellator 268 adds Benson Henderson – Brent Primus

Benson Henderson

Bellator 268 is getting a matchup of top lightweights added to it’s main card. MMA Junkie was the first to report yesterday that the promotion had finalized and booked a lightweight contest between Benson Henderson (28-10) and Brent Primus (10-2).

Bellator 268 is scheduled to take place next month on October 16th. The event is shaping up to be a big one for the promotion as it will also feature the semifinal matchups in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

In terms of this lightweight matchup, both men will look to get back on track with wins. Brent Primus just fought in July which was his first fight in a year and a half. It did not go his way as he lost a split decision to Islam Mamedov.

That fight was just the second career loss for Primus. The first loss came back at Bellator 212 when he was defeated by Michael Chandler in their rematch. The highlight of Primus’ career came when he defeated Chandler for the Bellator lightweight title.

Primus has been with the promotion for most of his career. After starting 2-0, Bellator signed Primus who then won six in a row capped off with the win against Michael Chandler. however, since that win, he’s just 2-2 in his last four.

Bellator redemption for Smooth

It’s been quite the career overall for Benson Henderson. Henderson rose to the top of the MMA world when he became the UFC lightweight champion. This was Henderson’s second world title as he was also the WEC lightweight champion during his career.

After a successful run with the UFC, Henderson signed with Bellator when he became a free agent. Henderson had moved up to welterweight just before leaving the UFC and was immediately given a welterweight title shot in Bellator.

Henderson lost that matchup then moved down to lightweight. After defeating Patricio Pitbull, Henderson got his lone lightweight title fight against Michael Chandler. Henderson again came up short in his attempt to become Bellator champion.

The former UFC champion is now on a two-fight losing streak after having gone on a four-fight win streak. We last saw him in November when he moved up in weight to fight Jason Jackson. Again, Henderson was completely out-muscled which is why he’s moving back to lightweight.

There’s no questioning the fact that Henderson wants to capture the Bellator lightweight title before he wraps his career. If he can defeat Primus next month, he’s back on track towards getting another crack at the title.

Is McKee – Pitbull 2 at 155 the fight for Bellator to make? The featherweight champ thinks so

AJ McKee

It’s been about one month since Bellator 263 and the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix. In the finals, AJ McKee (18-0) took on arguably the greatest fighter in Bellator in history in Patricio Pitbull (32-5).

Pitbull was the Bellator featherweight and lightweight champion entering the contest. He hadn’t lost at featherweight since his 2015 decision loss to Daniel Straus. A loss that Pitbull avenged a year and a half later.

AJ McKee has been the heralded prospect of Bellator since he made his promotional debut. McKee had spent all 17 of his professional fights fighting under the Bellator banner. After years of winning and improving, this was finally his shot.

McKee didn’t let the moment slip away. While many were betting on the long-reigning champion to get it done, McKee was ready to show the world that he’s the best that the promotion has to offer.

The fight seemingly ended before it even started. Just under two minutes into the Bellator 263 headliner, McKee landed a vicious head kick and combination that seemingly had Pitbull out. McKee then put Pitbull in a standing guillotine to choke him out and become the new featherweight champion.

What will Bellator do with McKee next?

When it comes to Bellator, AJ McKee is on top of the world. He’s the best the promotion has to offer, he has star power, and he’s undefeated. The real question is what’s next for the featherweight champion.

McKee spoke with Ariel Helwani this week and was honest about the fact that he didn’t know. He did say that he believes the fight to make is him facing off against Patricio Pitbull for the lightweight title.

However, at this time, it doesn’t appear that Bellator is leaning in that direction. There are a few options for the promotion. One option would be to have the two run things back at featherweight.

This is certainly not what McKee wants, but it is what Pitbull wants. Pitbull has put in the time with Bellator to gain good favor with the promotion. It’s possible they grant him a rematch at 145 pounds.

Another possibility is that McKee defends his featherweight title against top contender Mads Burnell (16-3). Burnell would give McKee a new look and he’s currently riding a seven-fight win streak.

The other option would be to have McKee take a fight at lightweight, but not against Pitbull. This would give the Bellator champion a taste of 155 pounds without actually putting him in there with the champion. I believe this is the least likely of the three scenarios.

Based on the whispers, my guess is that McKee will defends his 145 pounds title next. If I had to make a prediction, I think Burnell gets the nod. I don’t believe Bellator is doing the immediate rematch, and a win for McKee and another win for Pitbull would make their rematch even bigger regardless of what weight class it’s in.

Yoel Romero to make Bellator debut against Phil Davis

The long anticipated Bellator debut of Yoel Romero (13-5) is finally set per Ariel Helwani. The former top contender in the UFC was originally supposed to compete in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix back in May and fight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

However, The Soldier of God was not medically cleared for his Bellator debut. Romero has been cleared to compete and the promotion has moved forward with booking his debut. He will be taking former Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis (22-6, 1 NC) on September 18th.

Davis lost to the current champion, Vadim Nemkov, in the opening round of the Grand Prix. That loss to Nemkov back at Bellator 257 snapped a three-fight win streak for Davis.

It’s crazy to think that it’s already been about six years since Davis made the jump to Bellator. After his UFC contract expired back in 2015, Davis made the switch. Since making the jump, he’s been one of the best in the promotion.

Overall, Davis is 9-3 in his 12 fights for Bellator. His only three losses have come against Vadim Nemkov (Twice) and Ryan Bader. He should pose a big challenge for Romero next month.

Romero’s Bellator Debut

As mentioned above, we are finally going to see the Bellator debut from Yoel Romero. Yoel Romero had a very interesting end to his UFC run and it is still a little puzzling that he was let go by the promotion.

Romero hasn’t fought since March of 2020 when he lost to Israel Adesanya in a fight for the UFC middleweight title. He was then booked against Uriah Hall in a fight in August, but he had to pull out of the fight.

The UFC went through a number of cuts last year and they let Romero go. Romero went 9-4 during his run in the UFC. He never captured a title, but he’s widely considered to be one of the best fighters to never capture a belt.

Once Romero was let go, Bellator swooped in and signed him. Romero has seemed to have found the fountain of youth as he never seems to age. He will be 44 when he makes the walk next month, but he’s still not showing signs of slowing down.

Bellator books Fedor Emelianenko – Tim Johnson

Fedor Emelianenko

Bellator has been planning the return of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) has been gearing up for his return to the cage for the last year. The promotion announced that Fedor would be returning in October and he’d be headlining a card in his homeland of Russia.

Today, we learned who Fedor would be facing when he returns to the cage. Bellator announced that their second ranked heavyweight, Tim Jonson (15-7), would be the one facing off against Fedor in October. In all honesty, I’m a little surprised by the booking decision.

Johnson is one of the best heavyweights that Bellator has to offer. He just fought for the interim heavyweight title back at Bellator 261 at the end of June. Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the interim champion by losing a decision to Valentin Moldavsky.

That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Johnson. During his previous winning streak, Johnson had finishes over Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect Tyrell Fortune. He also defeated Cheick Kongo in the promotion’s first trip to France last year.

Fedor’s Bellator Return

While it’s not been stated directly, this could be the final stand for Fedor in Bellator. The legendary heavyweight will be making the walk for the sixth time under the Bellator banner. So far in his career with the promotion, Fedor has gone 3-2.

The last time we saw Fedor was back in 2019 when he knocked out Rampage Jackson. Fedor will be 45 years old when he makes the walk in October. Given his age and the fact that Bellator booked this event to be in Russia, many are drawing the conclusion that he will be retiring after this one.

That said, if he defeats Johnson, he will likely be ranked near the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division. Regardless, I think this is the final fight for Fedor, but with The Last Emperor, you never really know.

What’s next for Patricio Pitbull after Bellator 263 loss?

Patricio Pitbull Freire

This past Saturday at Bellator 263 we saw the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Patricio Pitbull (32-5) was defending his featherweight crown against the undefeated phenom AJ McKee (18-0).

This was the one fight that Bellator fans had been waiting for since the Grand Prix started. The two best featherweights that Bellator had to offer were set to battle for the title and one million dollars.

Patricio Pitbull was the popular pick heading into Saturday night. The two-division champion has virtually ever record in the history of Bellator and he’s widely considered to be the best fighter in the history of the promotion.

While Pitbull was both the featherweight and lightweight champion, he was the much smaller man at Bellator 263. McKee looked much bigger and longer and you could see that advantage very early in the fight.

When the fight started, Pitbull was staying patient on the outside. McKee was trying to keep him at range and Pitbull was trying to find his way inside. However, before he could even get started, he got caught.

McKee landed a massive head kick and uppercut that dropped the Bellator champion. When Pitbull got up, McKee locked in a standing guillotine and put Pitbull out.

What’s next after Bellator 263?

Patricio Pitbull had lost before inside the Bellator cage, but Saturday night was different. This was the first time that he was truly finished and the fight wasn’t even close. AJ McKee ran right through Patricio Pitbull.

After that devastating defeat, what’s next for Pitbull? Well, it’s important to remember that he’s still the Bellator lightweight champion. However, he had previously hinted at dropping the lightweight title to allow his brother, Patricky Pitbull, the opportunity to become lightweight champion.

Having just lost to McKee at featherweight, I wonder if that potential plan has changed. I wouldn’t be shocked to see McKee and Pitbull fight again. McKee has teased about going up in weight and he’s said that he wanted to become a two-division Bellator champion.

Ultimately, Scott Coker is going to have a decision to make. I believe that Pitbull is going to want an immediate rematch. Given his legacy with the promotion, I think they’ll give it to him. Question is, will it be a featherweight rematch or a lightweight title fight? Time will tell on this one.

Bellator books Michael ‘Venom’ Page – Douglas Lima 2

Bellator MMA announced today that they have finalized a welterweight rematch that fans have been waiting on. The promotion announced that they have finalized the matchup between Michael “Venom” Page (19-1) and Douglas Lima (32-9).

The fight will take place at Bellator 267 on October 1st. The fight will take place in Page’s hometown of London and the rematch will headline the card. This rematch is a couple of years in the making after the two first fought back in 2019.

At Bellator 221, these two met for the first time. Page was doing his thing and showing off a lot of flashy striking. However, during one his entries, Lima took his footing and planted Page. When Page was trying to get up, he was caught with a perfect shot and Lima put him out cold.

That is still the only loss in Page’s professional career. The striker has been saying that Bellator needed to run this back for the last two years and now they finally are. However, the Bellator welterweight title won’t be on the line after Lima lost the title last month.

Bellator 267

While Douglas Lima won back at Bellator 221, he’s going to be the one coming into this fight with no momentum. When these two fight in October, Lima will be carrying a two-fight losing streak and neither fight was particularly competitive.

Meanwhile, Page is 5-0 with four knockouts since the first time these two met. Most recently, Page fought back in May when he broke the nose of Derek Anderson and stopped him after the first round. Despite Lima having won the first fight, Page will likely be the betting favorite at Bellator 267.

These two men were destined to fight again and I can’t wait to see it. Page has long talked about his desire to move over to the UFC once he completes everything he needs to in Bellator. The two things he wanted to do were avenge the loss to Lima and win the Bellator title. He gets his chance at the first one in October.

Bellator 262 Preview

Tonight, Bellator makes it’s return for their 262nd show. In the main event of the evening we will see a battle for the women’s flyweight title. The undefeated champion Juliana Velasquez (11-0) will defend for the first time against top contender Denise Kielholtz (6-2).

As mentioned, this will be the first title defense for Juliana Velasquez. In her last fight at Bellator 254, the Brazilian flyweight defeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane to capture the Bellator flyweight title.

So far, Velasquez is a perfect 6-0 inside of Bellator. She possesses great all-around skills, but she’s going to need to lean on her grappling and pressure tomorrow night. Standing across from her is former professional kickboxer Denise Kielholtz.

Kielholtz has over 40 professional kickboxing wins and she scored a beautiful first round knockout in her last performance at Bellator 247. She also has good skills on the ground as she has three submissions.

When it comes to Bellator 262, I think were going to see a lot of pressure from Velasquez. Do not expect her to play the range game with a striker like Kielholtz. This might turn into a slower and grueling fight, but I think Velasquez gets it done by decision.

Bellator 262 Co-Main Event

In the co-main event of Bellator 262 we will see a heavyweight battle. Veteran Matt Mitrione (13-8, 1 NC) is back to take on rising contender Tyrell Fortune (10-1, 1 NC). At 43 years old, we might be nearing the end for Matt Mitrione.

We were first introduced to “Meathead” back on The Ultimate Fighter in 2010. At that point, Mitrione had never fought professional. His entire career has been spent between the UFC and Bellator.

Back in 2016, Mitrione joined Bellator and got off to a hot start. He won his first four fights which included a first round knockout of Fedor Emelianenko. However, since then, he’s just 0-3, 1 NC and he hasn’t looked good. He’s going to have his hands full tomorrow night.

Standing in the way of Mitrione at Bellator 262 is Tyrell Fortune. Fortune was looked at as the top Bellator heavyweight prospect until he was knocked out by Tim Johnson. However, he’s bounced back nicely going 2-0, 1 NC since the loss.

Tomorrow night, I’m expecting a showcase for Fortune. Mitrione just isn’t the same guy and I don’t think he’s going to stop the takedowns of Fortune. I’m expecting a grind-out performance by Fortune on his way to picking up a second or third round TKO.

Bellator 261 Preview: Who will become interim heavyweight champion?

Tonight Bellator is back and the interim heavyweight title is on the line. In the main event, the promotion will hand an interim title to either Tim Johnson (15-6) or Valentin Moldavsky (10-1).

Bellator already has a heavyweight champion in Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC). However, Bader hasn’t defended his heavyweight title since Bellator 226 back in 2019. Bader is currently in the light heavyweight Grand Prix with no ETA on his next heavyweight fight.

With that in mind, the promotion has decided to keep things moving in their heavyweight division. Who would have thought back in 2019 that Tim Johnson would be fighting for a Bellator heavyweight title?

Johnson made his Bellator debut back in 2018 and was knocked out in the first round of his first two fights. However, 2020 was a turnaround year for Johnson. Johnson stopped Tyrell Fortune and Matt Mitrione before getting a rematch with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo had knocked him out in their first fight, but the second fight was much different. At Bellator 248, Johnson picked up a split decision win. With three straight wins, Johnson has been put in this headliner, but he’ll have his hands full tonight.

Bellator 261

Standing across from Tim Johnson at Bellator 261 will be Valentin Moldavsky. Moldavsky has been perfect since he joined the promotion. The Russian made his Bellator debut back in 2017. Since then, he’s gone a perfect 5-0.

Moldavsky trains under Fedor Emelianenko and alongside the current Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. Fedor has built himself quite the team and Moldavsky is looking to become the team’s next world champion.

If you were to ask me two years ago who’d win this Bellator 261 main event, I wouldn’t have given it any thought. I would have said Moldavsky without thinking twice. However, Tim Johnson’s 2020 has made me rethink everything.

He’s shown incredible toughness and grit on his way to winning three fights in a row. However, I don’t think he picks up his fourth tonight. I think we see another Russian champion crowned tonight.

Prediction: Valentin Moldavsky by TKO – Round 3