Bellator 185 pre-event facts: Can Shlemenko strengthen resume at Mousasi's expense?

Despite a bevy of changes to the card, Bellator action returns on Friday with Bellator 185, which takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., with a main card on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

One of the more noteworthy debuts in company history is set for the headliner when former Strikeforce champion and longtime UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) meets former Bellator 185-pound champion Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA).

With 116 professional bouts between them, Mousasi and Shlemenko will set a new record for the most combined experience in a Bellator main event. For more on the numbers behind Friday’s Bellator 185 fight card, check out 20 pre-event facts.

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Main event

Mousasi makes his Bellator debut after a 12-fight UFC career in which he went 9-3.

Mousasi enters the event on a five-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since September 2015.

Mousasi has earned 35 of his 42 career victories by stoppage. He’s earned 31 of those wins in Round 1.

Mousasi has earned his past four victories by knockout.

Mousasi’s eight victories since 2014 in UFC middleweight competition are tied with Sam Alvey for most in the division.

Mousasi absorbed just 1.42 significant strikes per minute in UFC middleweight competition, the third best rate in divisional history behind Chael Sonnen (1.12) and Ivan Salaverry (1.15).

Shlemenko competes in his 16th Bellator middleweight bout, the most appearances in divisional history.

Shlemenko enters the event on a seven-fight unbeaten streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since September 2014.

Shlemenko’s 12 victories in Bellator competition are tied for fourth most in company history behind Patricio Freire (14), Michael Chandler (13) and Joe Warren (13).

Shlemenko’s 12 victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Shlemenko has earned 40 of his 56 career victories by stoppage. He earned 25 of those wins in Round 1.

Shlemenko’s eight stoppage victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Shlemenko’s six knockout victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Co-main event

Neiman Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), 28, is the youngest of the 10 scheduled main-card fighters.

Gracie is 3-0 since he dropped to the welterweight division in February 2015.

Gracie has earned three of his four Bellator victories by submission.

Remaining main card

Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a pro boxing champion, returns to MMA after making a successful debut at Bellator 180 in June.

Ana Julaton (2-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), 37, is the oldest of the 10 scheduled main card fighters.

Julaton returns to MMA competition for the first time since Dec. 11, 2015. The 679-day layoff is the longest of her more than three-year career.

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Friday's Bellator 185 lineup loses 2 main-card bouts

Friday’s Bellator 185 main card has undergone some major changes.

Officials today told MMAjunkie that an undisclosed injury has forced Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) out of the night’s scheduled co-headliner, and as a result, welterweight opponent David Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) has also been pulled from the card.

Additionally, Javier Torres (10-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has also suffered an injury, and welterweight Zak Bucia (18-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has stepped in as a replacement to fight Neiman Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in the new co-main event.

Bellator 185 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and the main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

With the loss of Ward vs. Rickels, a fight between lightweights Ryan Quinn (13-7-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) and Marcus Surin (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has been promoted to the five-fight main card.

The latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • Zak Bucia vs. Neiman Gracie
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Lisa Blaine vs. Ana Julaton
  • Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin

PRELIMINARY CARD (7 p.m. ET)

  • Joaquin Buckley vs. Vinicius de Jesus
  • Steve Skrzat vs. Costello Van Steenis
  • Alec Hooben vs. Jordan Young
  • Kevin Carrier vs. Kastriot Xhema
  • Vovka Clay vs. Frank Sforza
  • John Beneduce vs. Dean Hancock

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Spider-Man who? For Bellator 180's Neiman Gracie, the superheroes came from his own family

Who needs Marvel or DC Comics when you can just look at your own family for inspiration?

Just one look at his name might give you an idea as to why that was the case for welterweight Neiman Gracie. Set to meet Dave Marfone (5-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at this Saturday’s Bellator 180, Gracie (5-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) says it was never family pressure, but instead admiration, that pushed him into becoming a fighter.

“I had my uncles and older cousins as heroes,” Gracie told MMAjunkie ahead of the Spike-televised main card bout. “Instead of Superman or Spider-Man – Renzo, Royce and Rickson were my heroes. I always wanted to fight and train. I never felt any pressure due to that. On the contrary: I was always very happy to be able to represent the family.”

Gracie has been succeeding at that. At 28, he’s not only beaten all of the five opponents in his combined WSOF and Bellator records, but caught all but one of them in submissions. Clearly, he takes after Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s royal family. But, as happy as he is to carry that flag, Gracie says he’s never set out to excel purely in a gi.

“My focus was always MMA,” Gracie said. “Of course I love jiu-jitsu, but my focus was always to be an MMA fighter. When I was still very young, before I even got my black belt, I was already training boxing and other martial arts.

“Then there was the opportunity for my debut. I’d already been training, and it was perfect. It’s what I always wanted.”

That, however, doesn’t mean Gracie is in any way looking to stray away from his jiu-jitsu. While managing to finish Marfone on the feet would certainly display another facet of his MMA game, the Brazilian welterweight has no doubts when it comes to his preferred ending.

“For me, the most important would be to win with a submission – to show my jiu-jitsu, which is my biggest weapon,” Gracie said. “I’d be happier submitting than knocking him out, to be honest.”

The Spike-televised Bellator 180, headlined by a title fight between light heavyweight champ Phil Davis and fellow UFC vet Ryan Bader, will serve as the lead-up for the pay-per-view Bellator NYC card. The dual-branded events take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

These are certain some special circumstances for Gracie. Not only has he received premium placement in one of the promotion’s biggest events to date, he gets to do that a mere two blocks from his training grounds at Renzo Gracie’s.

Gracie, who’s been living in the U.S. for a decade, certainly sees the advantages in fighting at home –  sleeping in his own bed and cutting weight in familiar territory, for instance. But, on the flip side, there’s certainly some added pressure.

In any case, it all comes down to how you want to look at it.

“All my friends, family and students will be there,” Gracie said. “But there are two ways of looking at it. Either you put that pressure upon yourself, or you use it to propel you. You use it in your favor. I’m trying to use it in my favor.”

For more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie