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

Bellator 243 Preview: Can Benson Henderson avenge his loss to Michael Chandler?

Benson Henderson

Bellator MMA will make it’s return tomorrow night. This will be the second card that the promotion has put on since starting back up after the pandemic halted events in February.

In the main event of the evening, we will see a rematch between former UFC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson (28-8), and former Bellator lightweight champion, Michael Chandler (20-5). Let’s take a look at the main card for Bellator 243.

Chandler – Henderson rematch at Bellator 243

The main event of the evening is one of the Bellator fights that I was looking forward to the most this year. Personally, I think the promotion should have returned with this fight as the headliner.

In the first fight between Chandler and Henderson, Chandler walked away with a split decision. Re-watching the fight, I thought it was pretty clear that Chandler took three of the five rounds. Since that fight, Chandler has gone 4-2 while Henderson has gone 4-1.

Both men are former world champions. For the former UFC lightweight champion, Henderson, the Bellator crown has evaded him. He’s tried at welterweight and he’s tried at lightweight, but couldn’t get it done.

Henderson is very well rounded. He’s got pretty decent standup, good wrestling, and great skills on the ground. However, Henderson has a tendency to be very patient and point fight which is why six of his eight Bellator fights have gone to the scorecards.

Michael Chandler is a legend in Bellator. He’s nearing ten years with the promotion and he’s the former lightweight champion. Chandler has a wrestling base, but he’s got really crisp boxing and good speed to go with it.

Chandler is set to become a free agent after the fight tomorrow so it’s a big fight for him. Henderson enters this contest on a four fight winning streak while Chandler is 4-1 in his last five with the only loss coming to the double champion, Patricio Pitbull.

I think Chandler is just a bad matchup for Henderson. I think the speed and striking advantage will help Chandler on the feet, and I think Chandler is good enough to avoid submissions on the ground. Henderson will have moments, but I think Chandler gets the win here.

Prediction: Michael Chandler by Unanimous Decision

Matt Mitrione vs Timothy Johnson

The co-main event of the evening is a heavyweight contest between Matt Mitrione (13-7, 1 NC) and Timothy Johnson (13-6).

For Mitrione, he will be making the Bellator walk for the eighth time tomorrow night. Mitrione stared 4-0 in Bellator with wins over Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Nelson. However, Mitrione has gone 0-2, 1 NC in his last three.

Mitrione is known for his good power and really good footwork. The former football player is extremely athletic. His natural athleticism combined with his striking skills make him dangerous for anyone.

Johnson didn’t get off to the best start in Bellator. The former UFC heavyweight made the jump and promptly was knocked out twice in the first round. He did bounce back knocking out Tyrell Fortune in the first round back in February.

Johnson has decent wrestling and he’s got good power in his hands. I can’t see him winning a stand up fight so he will need to use his wrestling to get Mitrione down.

In the past, we’ve seen Mitrione’s weakness is getting taken down and held there. If Johnson can do that, I think he can win a decision. However, I think his chin is suspect, and I think Mitrone is going to catch him with something in the second.

Prediction: Matt Mitrione by TKO – Round 2

Myles Jury vs Georgi Karakhanyan

An interesting lightweight contest is on the main card which pairs Myles Jury (18-5) and Georgi Karakhanyan (29-10-1). To be honest, this is a fight that would have been really highly anticipated if it came back in 2014.

Back in 2014, Jury was riding high in the UFC at 15-0. A lot of people were pointing to this guy as a future champion. Jury was also the first person who would tell you just how good he was. However, Jury was humbled by Cowboy Cerrone.

Starting with the Cerrone fight, Jury has gone 3-5 in his last eight contest. Jury made his Bellator debut last September against Benson Henderson and dropped a decision. He did bounce back against Brandon Girtz back in February.

Back in 2014, Karakhanyan was 23-3-1. A lot of analysts were really high on Karakhanyan, but his career took a downturn. Since that impressive record, Karakhanyan has gone 6-7 with one no contest in his last 14 fights.

Karakhanyan did win his last time out against Paul Redmond in February, but that was coming off of an eight second knockout loss to AJ McKee.

In looking at both of these guys, I’m just not sure where Karakhanyan wins this fight. I think Jury is just a little better in almost every aspect. I don’t really see a finish coming here so I’m going with Jury to get it done by points.

Prediction: Myles Jury by Unanimous Decision

Curtis Millender vs Sabah Homasi

A fun catchweight contest at 175 pounds between Curtis Millender (18-5) and Sabah Homasi (13-8) will also be on the main card tomorrow night.

Millender was looking like a pretty bright welterweight prospect when he was in the UFC entering 2019. Millender was 17-3 holding wins over guys like Thiago Alves. However, two straight losses got him the hook from the promotion.

Millender signed with Bellator in late 2019 and made his debut back in January where he won a unanimous decision over Moses Murrietta. Millender is a really good striker, but is usually content with point fighting his way to a victory.

Hamasi enters this contest after back-to-back wins in Bellator including a 17 second knockout over Micah Terrill. It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen Hamasi compete.

Hamasi was also in the UFC but was cut after he was finished in three consecutive fights prompting his promotional switch. Hamasi has 11 finishes in 13 wins and the American Top Team fighter has shown crisp striking.

While Hamasi has looked good, I don’t like this matchup for him. I think Millender will be able to use his length and accuracy to get the better of the striking exchanges.

Prediction: Curtis Millender by Unanimous Decision

Bellator 243 Outlook

This is a very solid card for Bellator. I would have really liked this to be the first card back as I said above, no disrespect to Sergio Pettis or Ricky Bandejas. Two former world champions in a big rematch is something that will tune a lot of folks in, and I’m excited to watch it play out.