Bellator books James Gallagher – Patchy Mix

A massive fight has been booked in Bellator‘s bantamweight division. MMA DNA was the first to report that the promotion has finalized a matchup between James Gallagher (11-1) and Patrick “Patchy” Mix (13-1).

The matchup will take place at Bellator 258 which will take place on May 7th. James Gallagher was turning into Bellator’s version of Conor McGregor just a couple of years ago. The brash Irish contender is actually a teammate of The Notorious one.

Gallagher had confidence and he was trying to ride the Irish momentum of Conor McGregor. However, the path wasn’t as smooth for Gallagher. Gallagher was being fast-tracked by Bellator, but then he ran into Ricky Bandejas after an injury layoff.

Bandejas shocked everyone by stopping the Irishman in the first round. Gallagher took the loss well and has since rebounded extremely well. Since that loss, Gallagher has gone 4-0 inside the Bellator cage.

Only won of those fights has gone the distance. This matchup against Patchy Mix is the biggest fight of Gallagher’s career. Should he win this matchup, he’s likely going to get a shot at the bantamweight title. Juan Archuleta is scheduled to defend his title against Sergio Pettis that same evening. 

Bellator title eliminator?

Standing across from Gallagher on May 7th will be Patrick “Patchy” Mix. Mix just fought for the bantamweight title back at Bellator 246 against Archuleta. Early on, it looked like Mix was going to become the Bantamweight champion.

The grappling of Patchy Mix is something to behold. His incredible skill on the mat allowed him to control the early portions of his title fight. However, his gas tank ultimately failed him and Juan Archuleta captured the Bellator bantamweight title by decision.

Now, Mix will have his opportunity at redemption. It’s clear that Bellator is setting this up as a title eliminator with the main event being the bantamweight title fight. Whoever wins this matchup on May 7th is going to be the first in line for a crack at whoever wins the belt in the main event.

Bellator books Patricio Pitbull – Emmanuel Sanchez 2

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Bellator MMA officially announced the date for their final semi-final matchup in their Featherweight Grand Prix. The promotion announced today that Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) will defend his featherweight championship against Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) on April 2nd.

This matchup had already been predetermined with the Grand Prix bracket, however, we finally have a date for this matchup. This title fight will headline Bellator‘s first event back in 2021.

The winner of this matchup will carry the featherweight title into the Grand Prix finale to face AJ McKee. These two men have history and they faced off back in 2018 at Bellator 209.

That night, Patricio Pitbull successfully defended his featherweight title by winning a unanimous decision. Pitbull hasn’t lost inside the Bellator cage since 2016 when he lost to Benson Henderson due to a leg injury.

If you want to take out that loss, nobody has defeated Pitbull since Daniel Straus did it in 2015. Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has ever had and his two world championships show off his greatness. However, he’s in for a tough matchup on April 2nd.

Bellator Featherweight Title Fight

There are so many things that Emmanuel Sanchez has going for him heading into Bellator 255. First and foremost, he’s incredible tough and durable. He’s not going to back away and be intimidated by the challenge of facing Patricio Pitbull.

Another thing that he has going for him is that he already has experience facing Pitbull. Yes, he lost the first fight by decision. However, it’s usually easier for the loser of the first fight to prepare for the rematch than the winner.

Nobody is going to be expecting Sanchez to walk out of Bellator 255 the featherweight champion. That’s another big advantage for the challenger. All of the pressure in this fight is on Patricio Pitbull.

Pitbull is the defending champion and he’s expected to win to setup the superfight with AJ McKee. McKee already did his part and now Pitbull has to take care of business. There is zero pressure on the shoulders of Sanchez. This should be a fantastic matchup on April 2nd.

Bellator officially books title fight between Juan Archuleta and Sergio Pettis

Juan Archuleta

Bellator MMA made a ton of announcements this afternoon. Starting with the big news that the promotion was moving over to Showtime. Then we got the news of the light heavyweight Grand Prix.

Another major announcement for Bellator was the announcement of the bantamweight title fight. The promotion announced today that Juan Archuleta (25-2) would be making his first title defense against Sergio Pettis (20-5).

The two best bantamweights that Bellator has to offer will go head-to-head on May 7th. As mentioned, Archuleta will be making the first defense of his bantamweight title. Archuleta won the title against Patchy Mix back in September.

The Spaniard is one of the best fighters that the promotion has to offer. However, a world championship had always evaded him. That changed back at Bellator 246 when he took on Patchy Mix.

The fight was far from easy for Juan Archuleta. Patchy Mix got the best of the fight early on, however, Archuleta was just biting his time. After Mix slowed down in the championship rounds, that’s where Archuleta took over. He won by decision and finally won his Bellator title.

Bellator Bantamweight Title

Standing across the cage from Archuleta is going to be Sergio Pettis. Pettis has been around for a long time, but he has never had a world championship opportunity until now. However, he’s come close on a number of occasions.

Pettis really got going in the UFC much like his brother, Anthony Pettis. Sergio Pettis holds wins over some of the best flyweights in the UFC like Joseph Benavidez and Brandon Moreno. However, upon the move to Bellator, Pettis has stuck to the bantamweight division.

Pettis has won both of his fights so far in Bellator which sets up this title fight against Archuleta. This is a tremendous matchup and one that fight fans should be excited for. Will Archuleta continue his reign or will Sergio Pettis finally realize his dream of becoming a world champion? This should be a good one.

Bellator announces move to Showtime and Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Bellator MMA has been relatively quiet since the calendar moved over to 2021. However, they’ve been making big moves behind the scenes that would further the promotion’s vision in 2021.

Today, Bellator announced that they have agreed to a deal with Showtime and Showtime will now become the exclusive home for their events. Just last year, Bellator announced they had a deal with CBS Sports Network, but the Viacom promotion is shifting gears.

Showtime decided to get involved and both sides agreed that it would be best to move the promotion to Showtime. Bellator will also be moving their events back to Friday nights after a brief stint on Thursdays.

In addition to announcing the new deal with Showtime, Scott Coker announced some exciting news in terms of the light heavyweight division. By far, the light heavyweight division is the best that Bellator has to offer.

They made some huge signings in the last year and they are ready to capitalize. Coker announced today that Bellator would be starting a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix that will start on April 9th.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will kick off on April 9th. In the first quarter final matchup, Corey Anderson (14-5) will be taking on Bellator newcomer, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1).

Also on April 9th in the main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (27-6) will be taking on Lyoto Machida (26-10). Bader is the Bellator heavyweight champion and just lost his light heavyweight title last year to Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Of course, the matchup everyone wanted to see takes place on April 16th. Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will battle it out. However, despite the hype behind this matchup, it will not serve as the main event on April 16th.

Instead, that honor will belong to the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov will be competing in the tournament and defending his title against Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). An absolutely stacked field and fight fans should be very excited about this Grand Prix.

Paige VanZant open to fight Bec Rawlings in BKFC on one condition

Will a Paige VanZant-Bec Rawlings rematch happen in BKFC?

Back in December, Rawlings floated her interest to fight VanZant in BKFC.

“With Bare-Knuckle signing Paige, it’s definitely garnered a lot of interest in people wondering if I’m going to fight her,” Rawlings told mmafighting.com. “I would love that fight. [I’m] sure we could probably try to work something out with Bellator and Bare Knuckle, doing a cross-promotion thing. I don’t know, I’d be down for that. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

But when asked for her reaction, VanZant isn’t as excited as Rawlings about the prospect of a rematch.

“Of course, she wants to fight me again. I knocked her out with a head kick the last time we fought. [I’m] really interested in fighting people who I haven’t fight yet or haven’t beaten. So if she wants to come back to BKFC, that’s totally fine, and if the matchup makes sense, but I’m in Bare Knuckle Boxing working my way in the division for a title. And I just don’t want to fight people because they want to call me out,” VanZant told Empire Sports Media in an exclusive interview last Tuesday ahead of her BKFC debut against Britain Hart.

Aching for Payback

VanZant will headline BKFC’s Knucklemania tonight, and if she emerges victorious, a Rawlings rematch could be in the pipeline.

Rawlings has a perfect 3-0 record in BKFC, including a split decision against Hart, before she returned to MMA via Bellator.

The Australian brawler wants to exact revenge for her 2016 loss to VanZant in UFC. VanZant won the fight via a second-round TKO with a stunning switch kick.

The loss to VanZant started the fall of Rawlings in the UFC. She never recovered as she also lost her next three fights and was subsequently released.

Rawlings revamped her career with BKFC.

Crossover Star

But unlike Rawlings, VanZant left UFC on her terms. While she lost her last UFC fight against Amanda Ribas, VanZant left the MMA octagon with a solid 8-5 record. She successfully became a crossover star and one of the most recognizable MMA fighters after reaching the finals of the Dancing With Stars in 2016.

While VanZant maintained her focus is on BKFC for now, she’s keeping her options open. She revealed that her BKFC contract has a clause that will allow her to fight in the octagon again.

“The fortunate thing about Bare Knuckle, I could take an MMA fight, boxing fight during my contract with them. I definitely haven’t closed the door on MMA at all or straight boxing. I think I’m just excited about this opportunity. I think it opens up the doors for me to continue to compete and be a more well-rounded martial artist,” VanZant said.

But first things first, the 26-year old VanZant needs to take care of business tonight against Hart.

She’s confident that she’ll shock the world after her six-month training with American Top Team.

How to watch VanZant-Hart fight:

The VanZant-Hart fight will be available Live on Pay-Per-View including DISH, DIRECTV, IN DEMAND, ROGERS, SASKTEL, SHAW, and VUBIQUITY, and via the digital app FITE, as well as the BKFC website www.bareknuckle.tv/orderppv.

KnuckleMania starts on PPV at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PM and will be distributed by Multi Vision Media.

Two Free Preliminary Fights will be broadcast on the BKFC YouTube Channel and Facebook pages starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Bellator: Fedor Emelianenko hospitalized due to COVID-19

Fedor Emelianenko

Current Bellator heavyweight and one of the greatest of all time, Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC), has been hit by COVID-19. According to the former Pride heavyweight champion, he’s been in the hospital dealing with COVID.

He posted on his official Instagram this morning with the news. However, the Bellator heavyweight did assure fans that he is going into recovery stating, “I am going into recovery. I’m grateful to the doctors and medical staff for their care and hard work.”

Not the most comforting thing to read that one of the best ever has been in the hospital with COVID. However, at least fight fans can breathe a little easier hearing that Fedor is heading for recovery.

Fedor hasn’t fought since December of 2019 and spent 2020 waiting on the sidelines during the pandemic. Bellator was hesitant to book Fedor for another fight because it’s known that his next fight might be his last.

Bellator’s Plans for Fedor

At this time, it’s not known how long it will take Fedor to recover from his battle with COVID-19. As mentioned, the news just came out today that he had to go to the hospital due to the symptoms.

Bellator has been exploring options for Fedor’s last fight. Scott Coker has said that he wanted to do a show in Russia with fans for Fedor’s sendoff. However, the pandemic has really handcuffed them on their options.

Reports had suggested that Fedor was ready to get back into the Bellator cage and compete. At 44 years old, Fedor knows that he doesn’t have much time left in his fighting career. Once we get a better idea of his recovery timeline, we should get a better feel for Bellator’s plans.

My guess is that this really doesn’t impact them much. We know that Bellator wants to do a show with fans in Russia and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. That said, it should give Emelianenko plenty of time to recover before his return bout is booked in what might be his retirement fight.

Corey Anderson says Bellator is better than the UFC at light heavyweight

Corey Anderson

2020 turned out to be an eventful year for Bellator‘s Corey Anderson (14-5). When the year started, Anderson was one of the top contenders in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He appeared to be one win away from a title shot.

However, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) starched Anderson in February to claim that top contender status. After Anderson was knocked out, he had a series of health concerns that kept him from competing. These health scares also had him reevaluate his career.

Anderson decided to go to the UFC and ask for more money. When the promotion wasn’t willing to, he asked for a release to be able to look around in the market. The UFC released Anderson and Bellator signed him almost immediately.

It turned out to be the first of several moves like this for Bellator. After signing Anderson, Bellator would go on to sign Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) after they were released from the UFC.

Those top three contenders join the likes of Vadim Nemkov (12-2), Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC), and Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). It’s safe to say that Bellator’s light heavyweight division has never been better.

In fact, it’s so good that Anderson believes it’s the best on the planet. Anderson told MMA Fighting, “I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand. Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in they’re trying to hype up but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now.”

Bellator or the UFC?

If we are going to go on pure name recognition, it’s hard to argue Corey Anderson’s point. Bellator has some serious name power in their light heavyweight division. However, it is the best in the sport?

In all honesty, if you’re looking at the totality of their top five, it might be. The UFC’s top contender is Glover Teixeira (32-7) who was knocked out in 14 seconds by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

Then again, there’s also Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) in the UFC’s top five. Prochazka stopped Bellator’s champion, Vadim Nemkov, when the two of them faced off a few years ago.

Another interesting wrinkle to throw into things is the light heavyweight debut of Israel Adesanya (20-0). Stylebender is fighting Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title in March.

Anderson definitely has an argument that Bellator is just as good if not better at 205 than the UFC. However, I believe the best light heavyweight in the world right now is Jan Blachowicz with Jon Jones moving up.

Overall, the UFC has a deeper division due to the amount of fighters on the roster and they have younger contenders. While Bellator is right there, I would still give the advantage to the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the UFC.

Bellator: Will Tito Ortiz be Fedor’s last opponent?

Right now, Bellator has been having some preliminary discussions on what to do with Fedor Emelianenko (39-6,1 NC). Fedor is one of the greatest of all time and he’s getting very close to the end of his career.

At 44 years old, the next time we see Fedor in the Bellator cage, it might be the final time. Scott Coker has talked about doing the promotion’s first event in Russia with Fedor headlining for his final card.

Of course, that all depends on the fans situation. Coker has made it clear that Bellator doesn’t want Fedor’s final career fight to come in front of just the production crew and the promotion’s staff.

If all goes as planned and fans can return, Bellator will attempt an even in Russia with fans in the stands for Fedor. That’s one aspect of figuring out his final fight and of course the other is figuring out the opponent.

There are a couple of different options for Bellator to pick from. One option is of course Josh Barnett (35-8). Barnett was actually my first thought when thinking about who Bellator could pair him with. However, another interesting possibility is emerging.

Will Bellator book Fedor – Ortiz?

The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, Tito Ortiz (21-12-1) is wanting to return to the Bellator cage. Ortiz is wanting to come back and be the man who faces Fedor in Fedor’s final career fight.

It’s worth noting that Ortiz hasn’t fought for Bellator since 2017. However, he did go 3-1 in his four fight run inside of Bellator and even challenged for the Bellator light heavyweight championship.

Ortiz was always known as a big light heavyweight and wouldn’t have much of an issue fighting Fedor at heavyweight. In terms of name recognition, Ortiz is probably the bigger sell than any other option in front of Bellator.

Ortiz is riding a three-fight win streak at the moment. Granted, the 45 year old’s last two victories have come against Alberto Del Rio and a very old Chuck Liddell. He did defeat Chael Sonnen in his final Bellator bout.

While Ortiz has offered to take the fight on Twitter, there is no word on if there are active talks at the moment. However, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them materialize. It definitely would be interesting if it happens.

Bellator’s AJ McKee has his eyes on top UFC contenders with two fights left on his contract

AJ McKee

In my opinion, there’s no one on the Bellator roster that has superstar potential quite like AJ McKee (17-0). From his style inside the cage to his confidence when he speaks, McKee has all the makings of a superstar.

Bellator‘s Scott Coker has raved about their homegrown star. McKee has said that he wants to become the Floyd Mayweather of MMA. So far, he’s ran through everyone who has stood in his way.

McKee made his professional debut with Bellator back in 2015. The 25 year old has fought his entire career under the Bellator banner and the promotion has done a very good job of bringing him along slowly.

They never rushed him seeing the potential that he has. McKee is on the verge of finally reaching the Bellator mountain top as he’s currently in their featherweight Grand Prix finals awaiting the winner of Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez.

While it’s going to be a massive year for McKee inside the Bellator cage, there is a budding storyline outside the cage. McKee recently revealed to MMA Junkie that he only has two fights left on his contract.

That being said, McKee is already looking across the pond at contenders in the UFC. McKee told MMA Junkie, “I’m looking across at the UFC and I’d love to have a field day with some of these guys…I’ve said I’m the Floyd Mayweather of MMA. I’m looking to make that Floyd Mayweather money.”

Will Bellator lose their star in 2021?

The face of Bellator over the last decade was Michael Chandler. Chandler left the promotion in 2020 to sign with the UFC. McKee has arguably the most star potential of anyone that the promotion has ever had and he might walk as well.

If McKee goes 2-0 this year, Bellator is going to have to do everything they can to retain McKee. McKee did allude to the fact that there might be some clauses in his contract that make it difficult to leave should he be the champion, but he didn’t elaborate.

For the sake of argument, if McKee is free to explore free agency after going 2-0 this year, Bellator could be in a lot of trouble. In reality, there is the possibility that McKee could earn more right away with Bellator than the UFC.

Michael Chandler told Brendan Schaub that the UFC wasn’t his highest offer on a per fight basis. However, his desire to compete against the best is why he ultimately signed with the UFC over returning to Bellator.

There is certainly the possibility that Bellator offers more up front in guaranteed money than the UFC for McKee. However, there is no comparison when it comes to the earning potential between the two.

There is no chance that McKee could get to a Conor McGregor level in Bellator. However, he can definitely do that in the UFC. If McKee is free to walk after his contract is up this year, the house favorite would have to be the biggest show in town, the UFC.

Bellator: Is 2021 finally the year of Aaron Pico?

Bellator‘s Aaron Pico (7-3) might have been the most credentialed prospect to ever make his professional debut with a major organization. Pico was an Olympic caliber wrestler and he had incredible boxing talent.

With the striking and grappling credentials he had, many believed he would instantly become a star for Bellator. However, the road has been a lot more challenging than anyone would have anticipated.

Pico was dealt a harsh dose of reality when he lost his professional debut in just 24 seconds. However, he showed very good poise in his ability to bounce back after that first professional loss at Bellator 180.

Pico would go on to win four-straight fights before running into Henry Corrales (18-5) at Bellator 214. Pico hurt Corrales bad in the opening exchanges, but he was drawn into a firefight. Corrales ended up landing a monster shot that put Pico out.

Aaron Pico would then go on to lose to Adam Borics (16-1) in his next fight. After two-straight losses, Pico made the move to Jackson-Wink for his training. That is where the career has really turned around for Pico.

Pico fought three times for Bellator in 2020 and he went a perfect 3-0. However, it was the way that he won that impressed me. He fought composed and he used all of his weapons to get the job done. Greg Jackson appears to be getting the best out of Pico.

Pico’s 2021 for Bellator

Aaron Pico recently spoke to My MMA News where he talked about his urgency to compete in 2021. He said that he wants to compete at least three or four times inside the Bellator cage this year.

When asked about potential opponents, Pico said he’s most interested in fighting the two men who’ve most recently beat him. Of course that being Borics and Corrales. In reality, those rematches do make sense for Bellator.

Pico has all of the potential to be a star for the promotion. It would be a great thing for Bellator if he was able to get those fights back and avenge those losses that he had before he made the move to Jackson-Wink.

I could see Bellator pairing Pico up against those two in 2021. One thing to keep in mind is that I don’t think 2021 will be a title year for Pico. It’s going to take a little more time and he’s been vocal about not fighting his long-time friend, AJ McKee (17-0).

McKee is in the finals of the featherweight Grand Prix and looks poised to potentially become the featherweight champion. If that was to happen, Pico already said that he wouldn’t fight McKee unless it was for life-changing money.

That being said, I don’t think 2021 needs to be a title year for Pico to do something special. In my opinion, I just want to see him continue to progress under Greg Jackson. Pico can still be a superstar for Bellator and 2021 has the potential to show that.