Bellator has one last show on the calendar for 2021 after a long and eventful year that saw the promotion crown its new face in A.J. McKee and realize it has the best light heavyweight on the planet as its champion in Vadim Nemkov, they have an insane bantamweight matchup still to come.
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Newly-crowned bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis looks to defend his belt for the first time and to further cement himself from outside of his brother’s shadow when he faces off against Rizin champion and former Bellator champion Kyoji Horiguchi.
Pettis is coming off an impressive performance against Juan Archuleta back in May that saw him earn the belt, but before that, he had won his first two bouts in the promotion since coming over from the UFC. Pettis has been fighting with so much weight off his shoulders that it seems he finally is seeing himself turn into the prospect that many expected when he came to light back in 2013. His style has turned into a fun, all-action style that has seen him turn into an elite-level striker in the Bellator bantamweight division. His grappling skills have really seemed to develop into something that allows him to be comfortable at all levels of the game.
Across from Pettis though as we mentioned is one of the best bantamweights in the world, regardless of promotion, and it comes in the complete package that is Kyoji Horiguchi. Horiguchi has been in the cage and ring with the best of the best and has held his own, he may be remembered by UFC fans as one of the victims during Demetrious Johnson‘s legendary run. He has developed into a complete fighter, he has learned English to help with his marketability, and has overcome a torn ACL to earn back his Rizin title and a chance to get his Bellator belt back.
Both men are so similar to each other, but the question that needs to be answered is who will have the better gas tank. Neither man has shown a weak chin, even though Horiguchi got caught two fights ago, but rather both men are just relentless. Whoever can weather the storm in the final two rounds, if it makes it there, could be crowned the winner when all is said and done.
Important Co-Main Event for the Featherweights
A matchup of top-ten promotional featherweights between Emmanuel Sanchez and Jeremy Kennedy.
Both men are coming off of a combined three losses with Sanchez being on the two-fight skid, and both men are looking for a win in the worst way possible as the featherweight division begins to stack up on itself after the conclusion of the Grand Prix earlier this year. Champion A.J. McKee has firmly cemented himself at the top of the division, but right behind him is Patricio Pitbull who gave Sanchez his loss in the Grand Prix before Sanchez lost again to Mads Burnell back in July. Sanchez has the heart and offensive ability to keep himself in most fights, but the chaos he brings can just as much be his downfall.
It is that chaos specifically that Jeremy Kennedy will look to take advantage of, Kennedy has the unique record of 1-1 with one no-contest since making the move to Bellator. He is a veteran of the PFL and the UFC, with his UFC run ending after a loss to current champion Alexander Volkanovski. Kennedy has been in the cage with the who’s who of several big promotions and the Canadian has fared well against them. Making this matchup with Sanchez is perfect as he looks to climb the Bellator ladder.
The rest of the card is filled with some notable names here and there Josh Hill, former WSOF and TUF competitor, going against the always-tough Jared Scoggins, who makes his Bellator debut after being scheduled to do so several times. Also on the prelims, karate fighter and UFC vet Oliver Enkamp going against former Oklahoma State and Big 12 wrestling champion Kyle Crutchmer as a sort of throwback fight to the old MMA days.
Featured Image courtesy of Bellator MMA