Bellator showcases a scorcher of a fight card this Saturday night in Montville, Connecticut. In the main event, we have perhaps the biggest fight to ever take place in UK MMA history. Michael “Venom” Page will take on Paul “Semtex” Daley in a first round matchup of the Welterweight World Grand Prix tournament.
How will this epic grudge match be settled? Who will advance to the semi-finals and what else does this card have to offer?
Welterweight: Michael Page vs Paul Daley
This fight is years in the making and these two British fighters really don’t get along. Michael Page recently stated that his hatred for Paul Daley stems from a previous interview where Paul apparently disrespected Michael behind his back. Prior to this, Michael claims that Paul was very respectful to him whilst face-to-face at numerous press conferences.
In his defence, Daley felt like he just hyped up the potential fight and there was never any animosity with his comments. In Paul’s past, he has been known to let his emotions get the better of him. Perhaps the most famous example of this is where Paul punched Josh Koscheck after the bell at UFC 113. This lead to Paul’s release from the promotion, having Dana White claim that the Brit would never fight in the UFC again.
However, listening to him speak with Gareth A Davies, it’s clear to see that Paul has matured over the years and will not let anyone get the better of him mentally again. Going into this fight he has been uncharacteristically calm, having kept his composure in the presence of Michael who has been visibly attempting to frustrate and anger Paul.
How do these two match up stylistically?
Comparing the opponents of these two men point to Paul having the advantage in experience. Paul is two fights away from competing in 60 professional bouts, whereas Page is currently 13-0. The standard of Paul’s opponents has unquestionably been higher as well. The Nottingham fighter has fought a whose who of MMA legends including Nick Diaz, Duane Ludwig, Martin Kampmann, Jorge Masvidal, Scott Smith and Rory MacDonald to name a few.
What’s interesting is that Paul has only lost once to strikes in his MMA career and that was against Nick Diaz. Paul is a high level Muay Thai striker who employs solid technique and holds tremendous power behind his strikes, hence the nickname “Semtex”.
This is Michael’s biggest fight yet. His style is unique, as a tall fighter he likes to use his reach to move in and out of range. He is a counter puncher, striking his opponents like a viper when they least suspect it. Showboating in the cage comes naturally to Page and quite often leaves his hands down in an attempt to goad his opponent.
More questions are being asked of Michael Page going into this fight in comparison to Paul Daley. Can he take a punch from a vicious knockout artist? If he needs to, will Michael be able to go for five rounds?
This is exactly why the match up is so intriguing. From what has been outlined above, a case could be made that Paul Daley is too big of a step up for Michael at this stage of his career. Keeping your hands down against someone as dangerous as Paul could be costly. However, it’s absolutely possible that Page could rise to the occasion and live up to the hype.
Prediction: Daley by decision.
Heavyweight: Cheick Kongo vs Vitaly Minakov
Vitaly Minakov makes his return to the Bellator cage. He was the last Bellator heavyweight champion before Ryan Bader and never actually lost the belt. His belt was vacated due to extenuating circumstances in 2016.
These two heavyweight combatants have met before in 2014, ironically in Minakov’s last fight for Bellator. That time around Vitaly won by decision and tonight, the Frenchman Cheick Kongo will look to avenge this loss.
A deciding factor in this fight could be age. Minakov is in the prime of his heavyweight career at 34 years old. This contrasts Kongo who is nearing the end at 43 years old. Coupled with how the last fight went down, this is a bad match up for Kongo. He got beaten virtually everywhere against the Russian who out struck Cheick and out worked him in the grappling game.
Many are picking Minakov in this fight. Kongo is quite often overlooked. In the past, Cheick has proven many doubters wrong and can be evidenced in his insane come from behind victory over Pat Barry. On the other hand, Vitaly is more well-rounded and is capable of knocking out Cheick Kongo. From what we can see, the Russian holds the edge.
Prediction: Minakov by TKO.
Heavyweight: Mirko Cro Cop vs Roy Nelson
This fight is a rematch between two legends in MMA. The first bout ended in a third round knockout for “Big Country” Roy Nelson. However, now over seven years on, many this time around are picking the Croatian sensation.
This is largely down to the gradual deterioration of Roy’s fight game. He was previously capable of mixing it up with great striking and a solid grappling game. After all, Nelson is a Kung Fu master that also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Nelson now heavily relies on a big right hand. He’s slowed right down to the point where this is no longer effective, with everyone seeing this big punch coming from a mile away.
Mirko is now on a nine fight winning streak coming into his Bellator debut. He is known for his high-level kickboxing skills, having great success in K-1. Cro Cop looks to have more tools in his skill set to avoid Nelson’s big punches. If he can replicate Sergei Kharitonov’s blueprint for beating Roy, this could be a short night for the American.
Prediction: Mirko Cro Cop by TKO in round 1.
Welterweight: Yaroslav Amosov vs Erick Silva
Back in August 2011, all eyes were on Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 134. However, a young Erick Silva arguably stole the show with a first round TKO of Luis Ramos. He was tipped by many at the time to be the next big welterweight star.
Unfortunately, Erick never quite lived up to the hype and struggled to get a winning streak going in his UFC career. Through his inconsistency, he suffered devastating knockout losses to the likes of Yancy Mediros, Matt Brown and Dong Hyun Kim.
On Saturday night Silva will be looking for a new lease of life against Russian fighter Yaroslav Amosov. Speaking recently with MMAMania, Silva stated that he is not scared of his opponent and will look to move forward when across the cage with Amosov.
Yaroslav has mainly fought on the regional circuit of Europe. So facing Silva is a massive step up in competition. The young Russian fighter is undefeated and hosts a record littered with devastating knockout and submission victories.
Amosov holds a similar ratio between knockouts and submissions, whereas Erick has more submission victories to his name. Silva’s experience will be key in this one. He will need to draw from his previous displays of decisive finishing in order to stop Amosov.
A passing of the torch could very well take place here. Silva is out of his prime and is currently 34 years old. Compare this to a 25 year old Yaroslav who is yet to enter his prime and yet to taste defeat. The Russian will be eager to impress against a big name like Erick Silva.
Prediction: Amosov by TKO in round 2.
Women’s Flyweight: Valerie Loureda vs Colby Fletcher
This fight is a tough one to preview due to the lack of experience between the two fighters. Valerie is making her professional debut, whilst Colby has a record of 1-2. You might be thinking, if this is the case, why is it the main card’s opening fight? The answer to that is simple. Valerie Loureda.
For those that don’t know, Valerie is a US Olympian in Tae-Kwon-Do and an Instagram model with just under 40,000 followers. The phrase marketing gold springs to mind.
Loureda is a killer and by watching her amateur fights, it’s clear to see that she has transitioned well into MMA. Her strikes are vicious and she is capable of mixing it up with grappling as well. Valerie currently trains at American Top Team with Amanda Nunes. Imagine training with Amanda Nunes, a woman who most consider to be the best to have ever done it? Her greatness can only serve Valerie well in her debut.
It’s difficult to make an informed opinion about Colby. The footage that we can gather looks to suggest that she is very green, leaving herself wide open in the striking department. Look for Loureda to take advantage of this and shine in the lime light.
Prediction: Loureda by TKO in round 1.
Where can I watch Bellator 216?
So you’ve read about the fights, you’re hyped about the event and are wondering how you can watch this historic fight card. It’s simple if you’re a UK fan as this will be the first Bellator event shown on Sky Sports! 3am on Sunday morning the main card will air live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action.
If you’re an American fan the main card will be live on DAZN. Please check your local listings if you are anywhere else in the world as you cannot miss this!