Two veterans are set to return at Bellator 193 in bouts that are equally important for much different reasons.
TUF 3 veteran, Kendall Grove, returns to take on Blackline Training Center’s AJ Matthews in a bout where both fighters desperately need a win. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a streaking Saad Awad makes a quick turnaround to take on a red-hot JJ Ambrose.
Kendall Grove (23-17, 1NC) vs. AJ Matthews (8-7)
35-year-old Kendall Grove comes into the contest having lost two-straight. There is a big asterisk next to those two losses, however. As he lost to two of the best in Bellator’s middleweight division.
In late 2016, Grove was knocked out by former longtime champion Alexander Shlemenko in the Russian’s long-awaited return from suspension. And in July of this year, John Salter earned his sixth win in-a-row vs. Grove via first-round submission. Prior to those two losses, Grove won two-straight, picking up back-to-back knockouts against Francisco France and Joey Beltran.
Winless since 2015, AJ Matthews needs a win perhaps more than anyone on the Bellator MMA roster currently, having lost four-straight.
In his last three Bellator MMA appearances, Matthews was knocked out by Hisaki Kato and was on the wrong end of two decisions against Ben Reiter and Andre Fialho. The bout against 23-year-old Portuguese prospect Fialho was his sole 2017 showing and, despite the loss, it was an incredibly close fight and a very good showing for Matthews.
The losing streak began after a 55-second KO loss to Anatoly Tokov under the RIZIN banner in 2015.
Saad Awad (21-9) vs. JJ Ambrose (29-7, 2NC)
Millennia MMA’s Saad Awad enters the important lightweight co-main event after two-straight wins, most recently knocking out Zach Freeman in 67-seconds at Bellator 186 in November.
Prior to this, Awad put on a fantastic showing against American Top Team’s Ryan Quinn after returning to lightweight following a loss at welterweight against Brennan Ward. He closes out 2017 a perfect 2-0 and will look to start off 2018 with a bang when he takes on JJ Ambrose.
JJ “Superman” Ambrose enters Temecula having won five-straight – including a PXC Lightweight Title win. Amongst those five wins are finishes against Takahiro Ashida and Francisco Trevino, the last man to beat Ambrose.
His most recent contest came back in June where he defeated UFC veteran Ben Wall at HEX Fight Series 9. Ambrose holds a 1-2 record in the Bellator MMA cage, having not fought in the promotion since 2013.
Bellator 193 will be headlined by a welterweight clash as Lorenz Larkin looks to get his first win in the Bellator cage vs. Fernando Gonzalez.
The show is slated for January 26 and will take place at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California.