The undercard of Bellator 249 kicked off what was a sneaky under-the-radar night of fights at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Undoubtedly, there will be some criticism of the Thursday evening shows going forward. However, last night Bellator should have had ample viewership with the lack of professional sports on various networks. With that said, here are the fights to make after Bellator 249:
Ricky Bandejas suffered another critical loss when he was submitted by rear-naked choke in round 2 of the co-main event thursday night. Bandejas is 2-4 in his last 6, and has not faired well against the top of the 135lb division.
Should Fight: Cal Ellenor
“Pacino” is coming off a one-sided loss to foe James Gallagher. Ellenor provides a step-down in competition for Bandejas, while simultaneously providing a name that creates a storyline.
Like many before her, Arlene Blencowe fell short in her title bout against Cris Cyborg. Blencowe rattled off 3 wins in a row before her title bout. She is still at the top of Bellator’s women’s featherweight division.
Should Fight: Jessy Miele
Miele recently loss to former champion Julia Budd. Blencowe has 6 bouts in Bellator and with the division being limited, a fresh face is likely i Miele.
Kyle Crutchmer is a decorated college wrestler and is still a prospect to watch in the welterweight division. He was on the wrong end of a decision that could have gone either way.
Should Fight: Justin Burlinson
Being a sucker for prospect vs prospect matchups, this does it for me. Burlinson is an undefeated 23 year-old from England. Burlinson also has a decorated amateur background with multiple wins under the Bellator banner.
You may remember Aviv Gozali for breaking the record for fastest submission in Bellator history. The 19-year old pulled off a sick kimura to further his 1st round submission streak. With now 5 professional victories and no defeats, Gozali is becoming a fighter that’s opening a lot of eyes in the business. Ray Longo speaks highly of the young fighter and Gozali is coming after another notable name, Dillon Danis. Bellator executives more than likely will hold off on this matchup.
Should fight: Khonry Gracie
The young prospect with 5 straight submissions against a Gracie? Gozali is probably not going to land the Danis fight, but this is certainly a pretty good plan B.
Henri Hooft and Sanford MMA have had a great year. They have an emerging heavyweight contender in Steve Mowry. Mowry is now 8-0 as a professional and is 4-0 with 4 finishes in Bellator.
Should Fight: Javy Ayala
Mowry is due for a veteran as he climbs up the heavyweight ladder. Ayala is coming off a loss in February. He’s a nice bridge for Mowry to start receiving more notable names in his career.
Leandro Higo secured a big win at Bellator 249. He’s now on a 2-fight win streak and calling out James Gallagher. That fight is perfect for the division as it seems Sergio Pettis is the #1 contender. The former champ is knocking on the door for a title shot.
Should Fight: James Gallagher
Bellator Featherweight Champion
Cris Cyborg made her first title defense look easy and it’s clear that one opponent is lurking.
Should Fight: Cat Zingano
Zingano is the 2nd most popular women’s fighter in Bellator and is coming off of a victory in her Bellator debut. Scott Coker, Bellator president, expressed his interest in booking this matchup in the post-fight media scrum. However, he also offered an alternative. Cyborg’s desire to box is not a surprise and Coker appears open to the idea. If Cyborg is headed down that route, a cross-over event with Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza could be big for the featherweight champion.
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