Filed under: Bellator, News
Bellator returns to the U.S. on Friday. After presenting events in Dublin, Ireland and Tel Aviv in November, the promotion heads to the familiar confines of WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla., for Bellator 189.
In the main event, women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd looks to defend her title for the first time when she meets Arlene Blencowe, an opponent the champion defeated by majority decision in 2016.
In the co-headliner, Chris Honeycutt and Rafael Lovato look to find a place among the top middleweights on the Bellator roster.
Bellator 189 airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.
Here are five reasons to watch the event.
1. High-stakes rematch
The first time Budd and Blencowe faced each other, the bout ended in a majority decision in Budd’s favor. Budd’s only contest since that victory was her featherweight title-winning TKO of Marloes Coenen.
Blencowe (10-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) has fought three times since she faced Budd (10-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in October 2016, and she won each of those bouts. The Australian’s most recent victory was a split-decision win over Sinead Kavanagh in August.
Budd’s strength and her ability to take advantage of openings in Blencowe’s striking game made the difference in the first meeting between these two. If Blencowe is more active in her striking and able to maintain distance, this could be her fight to lose. That’s easier said than done. The only two women to defeat Budd during her 12-fight career are former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and current UFC champ Amanda Nunes.
2. Moving on up
Once you drill down past Rafael Carvalho, Gegard Mousasi, John Salter and Alexander Shlemenko, you run into Honeycutt and Lovato in the middleweight pecking order. A step into the top tier of the division is on the line when the two meet at Bellator 189.
Since moving up from welterweight, Honeycutt (10-1 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) is unbeaten at 185 pounds. He extended his unbeaten streak to three straight after he earned a TKO win over Kevin Casey in August. Lovato (6-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), the former Legacy FC middleweight champion, has not lost in his MMA career. His most recent win was a first-round submission victory over Mike Rhodes in July.
Lovato is well known for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu accomplishments, but he has a developing striking game and has not been timid about using those newfound skills. Honeycutt has a wrestling background, which he uses to get the fight to the mat. Once on the ground, Honeycutt unloads heavy strikes. However, it will be a surprise if he tangles with Lovato on the ground.
The winner of this contest could find himself booked against the surging Salter, who was just victorious at Bellator 188.
3. Looking to make the most of his move
Chidi Njokuani was on a roll. Unbeaten in nine consecutive fights with four of those coming under the Bellator banner, he looked like a rising star heading into his August bout against former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. The one thing that dimmed that star was the Texas-born fighters inability to make weight on a consistent basis. Njokuani missed weight in two of his three most recent fights; the other was contested at a catchweight of 179 pounds. After his first-round TKO loss to Koreshkov, Njokuani (17-5 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) decided to give middleweight a shot. He makes his 185-pound debut against Hisaki Kato (8-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) at Bellator 189.
Njokuani’s move to middleweight does not come at an ideal time. The top of the division is crowded with the emergence of Salter as a title contender and the signing of Mousasi. With that, the pressure is on the 28-year-old to come out of the gate hot. The 35-year-old Kato, who is on a three-fight winning streak, hopes to spoil Njokuani’s move. Kato’s most recent win was a January decision victory over Ralek Gracie.
4. Bounce back
Adam Piccolotti suffered the first defeat of his career in his most recent bout. The loss was a costly one. The man who forced him to tap in the first-round, Goiti Yamauchi, was booked to face former lightweight champion Michael Chandler after his victory. Meanwhile, Piccolotti looks to get back in the win column against David Rickels in a 160-pound catchweight bout in Thackerville.
This is a good test for Piccolotti (9-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA). Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) is a well-rounded fighter who should test all facets of his opponent’s game. The less experienced Piccolotti is known mostly as a top position ground fighter, but he has made strides in his striking game. If he can get by Rickels, Piccolotti should find himself right back in the thick of things in the lightweight division.
Rickels enters this fight on the strength of a third-round TKO win over Aaron Derrow at Bellator 171.
5. A fine how you do
After three consecutive losses, Sam Sicilia saw his five-year run with the UFC end in February. He then signed with Bellator. If Sicilia thought he’d waltz into his new promotion without a test, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In his first fight with Bellator, Sicilia is matched up against former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao.
This featherweight fight has the potential to be an entertaining one if it remains on the feet. Both of these combatants like to throw their punches with maximum force. If the bout does go to the ground, Galvao (18-7-1 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) will have an advantage, but getting Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) to the mat could prove tricky as he defended 70 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts while with the UFC.
Expect both men to be very motivated in this matchup. Sicilia enters this contest on the heels of a frustrating loss to Gavin Tucker in which he landed a total of 10 strikes. Galvao also lost his most recent outing when he dropped a decision to Emmanuel Sanchez.
For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie