Bellator MMA returns to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. for Bellator 282 on Friday, June 24. The show will feature a main-event middleweight world championship fight between defending champion Gegard Mousasi and Johnny Eblen, with Mousasi seeking his 50th-career victory.
Bellator 282 Preview
Fight fans will be able to catch the main card of Bellator 282 exclusively on Showtime beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with the preliminary card set to kick off at 6 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT over on the promotion’s YouTube channel.
𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙 𝙏𝙞𝙩𝙡𝙚 𝙁𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙄𝙨 𝙊𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡 💥
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) June 23, 2022
Mousasi, the reigning Bellator middleweight champion, is in the midst of a 7-1 run in the Bellator cage, one of the most successful of his career with four finishes sprinkled throughout. The experienced and highly skilled 36-year-old veteran of the sport now finds himself in search of the 50th win of his career, and a Friday night victory would put him among the very best fighters to achieve the milestone. As well-rounded as Mousasi has become over the years, however, his lone Bellator defeat came at the hands of Rafael Lovato Jr. back at Bellator 223. Lovato employed a grappling-heavy approach in his encounter with Mousasi, winning the belt via majority decision before health issues forced him into retirement. Mousasi has since gone on to win the belt back with little resistance, but the path to victory should be clear for Friday’s challenger, Eblen.
“The Human Cheat Code” is a former Missouri University Tiger who at 6-foot-3 trends on the large side for 185-pound contenders. He is unbeaten through 11 fights with six finishes to his name, falling back on his wrestling when unable to put his opponent away on the feet. However, recent Mousasi challenger Austin Vanderford entered his middleweight title opportunity as a fellow undefeated wrestler, but was never able to test Mousasi in that area, getting stopped just under 90 seconds into the fight. Mousasi and Eblen do share a common opponent in veteran John Salter, a hurdle both fighters were able to clear in 2021. Though both competitors were able to successfully handle Salter, Mousasi put on the better showing out of the two, finishing Salter inside of three rounds while Eblen took care of business en route to a unanimous decision win.
Eblen is a talented, durable fighter with an evolving skillset, but Mousasi will present him with his toughest test to date. However, a win over “The Dreamcatcher” would put Eblen on the map as far as the top middleweights in the world are concerned, so there is plenty at stake for both fighters beyond the Bellator middleweight championship. Oddsmakers currently view Mousasi as a favorite in the -235 range, while money is coming in on Eblen, who is roughly a 2-1 underdog.
The remaining three fights on the main card of Bellator 282 are sure to produce fireworks and will include a co-main event grudge match in the Bantamweight World Grand Prix between rising bantamweight Danny Sabatello and veteran Leandro Higo. Sabatello, who earned a shot at Higo after defeating Jornel Lugo in Hawaii, has a habit of making things personal with his opponents, saying of Higo, “I want to leave him fucking scarred for life.” The 12-1 American Top Team product has operated with a chip on his shoulder after winning at dominant decision over Taylor Moore on an episode of Dana White’s Contender Series only to not get picked up by the UFC. Now, “The Italian Gangster” will put his action-heavy style to the test against Higo, a training partner of the Pitbull Brothers who has at least six confirmed submissions on his record.
Friday’s main card will feature another bantamweight grand prix fight when 18-win fighters Magomed Magomedov and Enrique Barzola go head-to-head. Magomedov is notable for being the first man to defeat former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan and was on his way to taking Bellator by storm until hitting a minor speed bump against current Bellator champion Rafeon Stots. He’ll look to earn another shot at Stots through the bantamweight grand prix, but will need to clear another obstacle in Barzola on Friday if he is to receive his own title opportunity. The Peruvian Barzola earned his way into the grand prix with a victory over Nikita Mikhailov in Hawaii and should be a tough out for Magomedov due to his experience and durability.
A welterweight fight between former title challenger Brennan Ward and debutant Kassius Kayne. Kayne has 11 victories by way of knockout, but will face a more than formidable test in the form of Ward, a protégé of former CES heavyweight champion Greg Rebello who also has a pension for knocking people out. Now 2-2 over his last four fight, Ward will look to show fight fans he has plenty left to offer the Bellator welterweight division.
The preliminary fights of Bellator 282 will showcase some of the promotion’s up and coming stars as well as some already established names in the sport. The prelims will be headlined by a lightweight bout between Russian Alexander Shabliy, unbeaten in his last six fights, and former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus, a true jiu-jitsu specialist in an era where they seem to be dwindling. Fight fans will also be treated to a women’s featherweight tilt between veteran Cat Zingano and Pam Sorenson. Zingano can cement her case for a title shot against champion Cris Cyborg if she can get by Sorenson, who would represent her third win in the promotion.
Moving down the card, Anatoly Tokov, another impressive Russian investment for the promotion will take on Muhammad Abdullah in the middleweight division in what could represent another step toward him earning a fight of his own with the middleweight champion, Mousasi or otherwise. Sabah Homasi, a 26-fight veteran of the sport is also slated to take on Brazilian Maycon Mendonça at welterweight and a women’s flyweight fight is also scheduled to take place between Columbia’s Alejandra Lara and Brazil’s Ilara Joanne.
Featherweight prospects are scheduled to collide when unbeaten Cody Law meets James Gonzalez in the featherweight division, and Lucas Brennan, another 6-0 featherweight prospect is slated to take on 4-2 Johnny Soto. Lightweights Dan Moret and Killys Lota are also scheduled to compete. Meanwhile, CFFC and DWCS veteran Aaron Jeffery will make his promotional debut at 185 pounds when he meets 18-2 Fabio Aguiar, and a clash between dynamic lightweights Mandel Nallo and Bryce Logan is set to open the show.