Bellator 265 Preview: Cheick Kongo – Sergei Kharitonov

Tonight, Bellator returns on Showtime for the 265th card and they are featuring a heavyweight showdown. In the main event, the third ranked heavyweight in the promotion, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC), will take on the returning Sergei Kharitonov (32-8, 2 NC).

It’s truly remarkable that at this stage of his life, Cheick Kongo is still a top ranked heavyweight with Bellator. The French striker turned 46 years old back in May and he’s still going strong.

After making a name for himself in the UFC, Kongo made the jump to Bellator back in 2013. Since then, he’s gone 12-3, 1 NC in 16 bouts with the promotion. During that time, he’s defeated the likes of Alexander Volkov and Augusto Sakai.

Last October, he lost to Tim Johnson in Bellator‘s first event held in Paris. That was Kongo’s first loss since 2015 and derailed his plans to become champion. Now, he’s looking to get back on track against Kharitonov.

Kharitonov has bounced around over the past few years. He’s fought with Bellator, he’s had professional boxing matches, and he’s fought with other promotions. In June, he won a professional boxing match by third round knockout. With Bellator, Kharitonov has gone 3-2, 1 NC.

Bellator 265 Prediction

To be completely honest, this isn’t much of a main event for Bellator. While these are two very solid heavyweights, it’s not really what you want in your headliner, but it’s still a solid fight and would be worth watching.

Now, I’m very curious to see how this fight takes place. In his younger years, Kongo loved to strike and use the clinch to use a ton of knees and control his opponents. At his advanced age, Kongo has resulted to more clinch fighting and playing it a little safe.

He’s going to have his hands full at Bellator 265 with Kharitonov. Kharitonov has crisp striking and he’s very powerful on the feet. If he catches Kongo flush, Kongo will be suffering his second straight loss in Bellator for the first time in his career with the promotion.

I’m having a hard time seeing Kongo winning this fight. At some point, age just catches up with you and Father Time is undefeated. I think Kongo has his moments, but I’m expecting a big bomb to land from Kharitonov which will give him the win at Bellator 265.

Prediction: Sergei Kharitonov by TKO – Round 2

Bellator wants to do something special for Fedor’s final fight

Fedor Emelianenko

The career of one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time is winding down and Bellator wants to do something special for him. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) is getting ready to call it a career after fighting for over 20 years.

The Russian heavyweight superstar has been in discussions with Bellator about what they could do to close out his career. By all accounts, Fedor wanted to fight in 2020, however, the promotion wanted to wait.

Scott Coker recently talked with MMA Junkie about Fedor’s final fight with Bellator. They don’t want him to just fight in front of the production staff in the bubble type environment that was created due to the pandemic.

Bellator is wanting to do something truly special for Fedor for his final fight. According to Coker, the promotion is envisioning a monumental sendoff in front of his home country with fans in the stands.

“I really want Fedor to finish his career in front of 30,000 people in Moscow, to be honest, Bellator MMA’s first fight in Russia. Do a fight in Moscow. Fedor is the greatest fighter of all-time. He’s now coming home to retire and put his gloves up and hang it up to retire,” Coker told MMA Junkie.

Who could Bellator pair him with?

If the COVID vaccine makes its way through Russia, there is a chance that Bellator could pull an event off with fans in 2021. However, I think having 30,000 fans might be a little bit of a stretch.

If Bellator is able to pull off a Russian event with fans, they have a couple of options for Fedor’s last fight. One option would be Josh Barnett (35-8). Barnett and Fedor were supposed to fight a number of times in their careers.

However, the fight never came together. At this stage in their careers, they aren’t going to be challenging for world titles. Barnett is a bigger name that Bellator could throw at Fedor for his final fight.

Another option would be top heavyweight contender, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC). Kongo is coming off of his first loss since 2015. He’s 45 years old and appears to be nearing the end of his career as well.

That could be another matchup that Bellator puts together. There is also the possibility that the promotion signs a one-off fighter to fight Fedor in his final fight in Russia. They have a few options to play with.

Either way, you can bet that Bellator is going to work on putting this together in 2021. Fedor has had an incredible career and it would be fitting to give him a proper sendoff in front of fans in Russia.

Bellator: Fedor Emelianenko will return in 2021

Fedor Emelianenko

We haven’t seen or heard much about Bellator‘s Last Emperor in 2020. Fedor Emelianenko has yet to step foot into the cage this year after competing back in December of 2019 at Bellator 237.

The 44 year old has been in a state of limbo much like the rest of the world. Bellator President, Scott Coker, had been asked in recent months about the return of Fedor. He never gave a clear answer on what would be next for Emelianenko.

There was talk of Emelianenko perhaps getting a rematch with Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was the man who snapped Emelianenko’s historic winning streak back in Strikeforce ten years ago.

Since then, Emelianenko has wanted to get that fight back. Werdum recently became a free agent and Bellator had been in talks with him about the rematch. However, reports are surfacing that the talks between Werdum and Bellator fell apart. 

With that, it looks like we are not going to get the rematch after all. However, Coker did shed some light on when Emelianenko would be making his return to the cage.

Fedor’s Bellator Return

Coker told reporters on Thursday, “We’d really like him to fight when there’s an audience available. But that can be challenging. So we’ll have to make a decision here pretty soon. But he’s going to fight in 2021 for sure, no matter what, because he has to fight and he’s got to keep going.”

Obviously there’s no word on who Bellator will pair up against Emelianenko, but I would expect it to be a high profile matchup. Perhaps Bellator can work things out and make the rematch happen with Werdum.

If they can’t make that happen, another good possibility could be Cheick Kongo. Kongo was close to getting a title shot, however, he just lost a decision to Timothy Johnson last month.

Either way, we know for sure that Fedor Emelianenko will be returning to Bellator at some point in 2021. I know Coker is wanting to wait for fans, but I think that’s something he might have to give up on.

Results and Takeaways from Bellator’s first event in France

Yesterday, Bellator became the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. MMA was just legalized in France early in 2020, but the pandemic through a wrench in the plans of all promotions who wanted to host events there.

After resuming action a couple of months ago, Bellator made it a priority to host an event in Paris. They were able to work out the logistics and put on some pretty good fights yesterday. The Bellator action came in waves.

The first wave of action came in the form of Bellator 248. That event was headlined by the catchweight matchup between Michael “Venom” Page (18-1) and Ross Houston (8-1, 1 NC). Page was looking to make a statement to try to get a rematch with Bellator champion, Douglas Lima.

The second wave of action featured the homecoming for French heavyweight, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC). Kongo fought in a rematch against Tim Johnson (15-6) who was looking to avenge his knockout loss to Kongo which happened back in 2018.

Bellator 248 Results & Takeaways

The first headliner featured a rather lackluster main event for Bellator. While there seemed to be so much promise in the MVP fight against Ross Houston, there was a lack of action. The first round started out really well for Houston.

Houston came right out and was able to land an early takedown. He was able to control Page for the majority of the first. The second round saw Page land a takedown of his own. He rode out the round landing a few shots from the top, but seemed content with just holding control.

In the final round, both men threw strikes from the outside. Neither fighter landed anything significant, but Page landed the majority of the shots. In the end, the first Bellator main event was given to Page. Following the win, I wouldn’t be shocked if Page got a rematch with Douglas Lima after winning his fourth in a row.

The second Bellator main event featured the heavyweight clash between Kongo and Johnson. Johnson was going to need to use his grappling to win the fight, and that is exactly what he did. In the first, he caught a Kongo kick and took the Frenchman down and controlled him.

The second round was much better for Kongo. He was able to use the clinch to land some good shots, but nothing serious landed. The final round saw a ton of clinch work, but Johnson held control for most of the round. Two of the judges gave the fight to Johnson earning him the split decision.

It was an exciting day for Bellator, but unfortunately the action failed to live up to the hype. Johnson won his third fight in a row this year and might be close to getting a Bellator heavyweight title match. Page is likely going to get a welterweight title fight after winning his fourth in a row.

Cheick Kongo looking to come up big in home debut at Bellator 248

Today, Bellator will make history. They will be the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. Arguably the biggest name on the card is one of the most famous MMA fighters to ever come from France in Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC).

Kongo will be taking on Tim Johnson (14-6) at Bellator 248 in Paris. The two men fought about two years ago at Bellator 208. That night, Kongo knocked out Johnson in the first round of their heavyweight contest.

Kongo is looking to get back on track in this fight. Prior to his title fight against Ryan Bader at Bellator 226, Kongo had won eight consecutive fights inside the Bellator cage. That warranted him a title shot, but the shot was cut short after an accidental eye poked stopped the action in the first round.

Kongo believed that he deserved an immediate rematch with Ryan Bader given the way the first fight ended. However, Bellator had other plans and booked Kongo against Johnson. Tim Johnson has had a fantastic year in 2020.

After suffering back to back knockout losses, Johnson has won two consecutive fights by knockout. He’s knocked out Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect, Tyrell Fortune. This is a big fight if he has championship aspirations.

Bellator 248 Prediction

For Johnson to be successful in the rematch, he’s going to have to grapple with Kongo. He doesn’t want to stand at range and trade with the French striker. That will be a ticket to a quick exit for Johnson. I expect Johnson to come out aggressive looking to tire Kongo.

When it comes to these two, I just believe that they are on different levels. Despite being 44, Kongo looked sensational leading up to that title match against Ryan Bader. I’m expecting Kongo to come out looking very good in Bellator‘s Paris debut.

Expect some early grappling, but I think eventually Kongo is going to be able to catch Johnson with something big. I think it’ll actually come relatively early with Kongo getting the finish in the first. Expect him to call out Ryan Bader once the fight is over.

Prediction: Cheick Kongo by KO – Round 1

Bellator to host first major MMA event in France

Over the past few years, it’s been a battle for all MMA promotions to get the sport legalized in France. Bellator currently has one of the most popular fighters in the history of French MMA, Cheick Kongo. Kongo was one of the first really popular fighters from France.

Earlier this year, France finally pulled the trigger on legalizing MMA. All of the major promotions were trying to build up a big card for debuts in France before COVID shut things down. The UFC wanted to have a card headlined by superstar Francis Ngannou.

However, yesterday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was reporting that Bellator would become the first promotion to host a major event in France. They were targeting October, and this morning, Bellator confirmed the news announcing two fights for October 10th.

Bellator’s Card

Bellator Paris will in fact be headlined by heavyweight Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC). He will be taking on Timothy Johnson (14-6) in a rematch from Bellator 208. Nobody should be surprised by the fact that Kongo is headlining this historic card in Paris.

Kongo has been a face for French MMA for years. I’m happy that he’s getting this spot. The 45 year old Kongo is a veteran of the game who is coming off of a NC with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. If Kongo is able to knockout Johnson again, he’s likely going to get a rematch.

Johnson has put together back-to-back first round finishes since his two fight losing streak to start his Bellator career. Johnson knocked out heavyweight prospect Tyrell Fortune, then he became fortunate when an accidental headbutt lead to a TKO over Matt Mitrione. This should be a solid main event.

If you haven’t seen Michael Venom Page (17-1) fight before, you could be in for a treat. MVP is extremely creative inside the cage and he’s a ton of fun to watch. He welcomes undefeated Scottish prospect Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC) to Bellator in Paris.

MVP has won three straight fights by knockout after his loss to Douglas Lima. That is a fight I want to see ran back in the future. If MVP is able to defeat Houston, you might see that fight setup. Houston is a top prospect, but this is a lot to ask for in his Bellator debut