Bellator MMA is set to return to the SAP Center in San Jose, Califonia for Bellator 292 tonight.
The main event will see Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov attempting to make the first defense of his belt against former UFC champion Benson Henderson in the first round of the 2023 Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix.
MMA Sucka has fight fans covered with Bellator 292 results, with the preliminary card starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on the promotion’s YouTube channel and the main card getting underway at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Showtime.
Bellator Lightweight Championship – Nurmagomedov vs. Henderson
Nurmagomedov, a member of a family that is fast on its way to becoming an MMA dynasty, will look to pen the latest chapter in his career when he takes on a former UFC and WEC lightweight champion in Henderson. The younger cousin of Khabib Nurmagomedov and brother of UFC bantamweight Umar Nurmagomedov is a dynamic striker who is yet to taste defeat in his MMA career. At 16-0, he has successfully shed the prospect label and has only just begun to step out of cousin Khabib’s shadow. If he can defeat Henderson, it would represent the highest-profile victory of his career as he aims to advance in the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix he is favored to win.
Upon arriving in Bellator, it became apparent that “Bendo” was not the same fighter he once was when he reigned in the UFC. However, he has seen spurts of success and is a winner in each of his previous two fights. While he may not be the fighter he used to be, Henderson has few weaknesses and will stand a good chance at adding a third world championship to his collection if he can recapture the magic in San Jose.
Henderson has openly floated the idea of retiring in the near future. He told MMA Junkie he would “done” after “these three fights” out of a desire to help his wife, Maria Henderson (a recent Bellator signee), pursue a professional career. It is unclear whether Henderson was referring to the Lightweight Grand Prix specifically or if he had three fights left to give, but fight fans could be in store for some answers on Friday night.
Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix – Musayev vs. Shabily
Nurmagomedov and Henderson will not be the only Bellator lightweights with Grand Prix fights on Friday’s card. Azerbaijan’s Tofiq Musayev is set to collide with Russia’s Alexander Shabliy in a fight where the winner will get one fight closer to the $1,000,000 prize awaiting the tournament champion. Musayev has competed primarily for RIZIN, where he reeled off six consecutive wins before falling to Roberto de Souza by way of a triangle choke in 2021 at Rizin 28 for his first defeat in seven years. He debuted in Bellator last year and left an impression when he knocked out Sidney Outlaw in just under 30 seconds at Bellator 283.
Shabliy, meanwhile, has been close to untouchable since arriving in Bellator in 2021. He holds a 3-0 promotional record with a finish over fellow Grand Prix competitor and former lightweight champion Brent Primus in his most recent outing.
Rest of the Card
Bellator 292 will be one card fans of the sport will not want to miss for its depth. Former Bellator heavyweight champion Valentin Moldavsky makes his return to the cage for a rematch with Linton Vassell from back in 2019. Moldavsky will look to replicate the result of a fight that saw him win by unanimous decision. Michael Page is also set to return after his brief spell in BKFC with Mike Perry when he battles longtime promotional mainstay Goiti Yamauchi. Fight fans will be interested to see how Page reacclimates himself to MMA, and the winner could be in line for a title shot, particularly with neither man having ever fought presiding champion Yaroslav Amosov.
Latin American bantamweights Enrique Barzola and Erik Perez are set to close the prelims with an exciting matchup in the 135-pound division. Barzola is just 2-2 since leaving the UFC for Bellator, but will have a chance to get back on the winning track against Perez, who will be returning following a near-two year layoff. The prelims will also see featherweights Cass Bell and Josh Hill meet in an exciting bout between Canadian and American prospects, Khalid Murtazaliev faces Tony Johnson at 185 pounds and former light heavyweight grand prix competitors Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov and Julius Anglickas will battle.
The preliminaries will be opened by a pair of prospect battles, with Laird Anderson set to face Rogelio Luna in the featherweight division and Theo Haig slated for a matchup with Adam Wamsley at 185 pounds.
Bellator 292 Results
Usman Nurmagomedov def. Benson Henderson via Submission (RNC) at 2:40 of Round 1
Alexander Shabliy def. Tofiq Musayev via TKO (front body kick) at :39 of Round 3
Linton Vassell def. Valentin Moldavsky via TKO (ground and pound) at 3:01 of Round 1
Michael Page def. Goiti Yamauchi via TKO (leg kick) at :36 of Round 1
Enrique Barzola def. Erik Perez via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Josh Hill def. Cass Bell via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Khalid Murtazaliev def. Tony Johnson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov def. Julius Anglickas via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Laird Anderson def. Rogelio Luna via Submission (RNC) at 2:40 of Round 1
Adam Wamsley def. Theo Haig via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 3:00 of Round 1