Bellator 293: Five can’t-miss fights to watch

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There’s no championship hardware on the line Friday night but that doesn’t mean there won’t be fireworks at Bellator 293 in Temecula, Calif.

From exciting matchups early in the prelims to a high-powered heavyweight clash in the main event, get settled in early for a sneakily loaded card.

Here are five fights to focus on come fight night:

Prelims: Ashley Cummins vs. Randi Field

Owner of one of the best nicknames in all of MMA, Ashley “Smashley” Cummins is coming out of retirement.

Cummins, who once battled current UFC champion Alexa Grasso at Invicta FC 8 but ultimately lost by decision, retired following back-to-back losses in 2020. Some time off and a change of heart and Cummins is back, welcomed by up-and-coming prospect Randi Field in a 120-pound catchweight bout.

For more on Cummins, read what she had to tell Michael DeSantis in an MMA Sucka exclusive.

Prelims: Archie Colgan vs. Justin Montalvo

In a battle of undefeated lightweights, someone’s going home disappointed Friday night.

Archie Colgan (6-0) and Justin Montalvo (5-0) have finished a combined nine fights, including eight by knockout. Both are coming off of first-round knockouts: “King” Colgan finished Jesse Hannam at Bellator 288 while Montalvo made quick work of Corey Samuels at Bellator 274.

These are two rising stars colliding early in their respective careers. No matter the outcome, this fight is destined to be something special.

Main Card: Aaron Jeffery vs. John Salter

The only thing colder than winters in Canada is Aaron Jeffery’s mullet.

But luscious locks alone won’t be enough for the Niagara Top Team product, who is riding high following his first-round knockout of Austin Vanderford in August. While Alabama’s John Salter is coming off back-to-back losses, those two setbacks came at the hands of then-champion Gegard Mousasi and current champion Johnny Eblen.

With that kind of championship experience under Salter’s belt, it’s safe to say this is Jeffery’s toughest challenge to date.

Co-main event: Cat Zingano vs. Leah McCourt

Cat Zingano returns to prove she deserves to be next in line to fight for the women’s featherweight title.

Zingano, Bellator’s No.1-ranked contender in a division ruled by Cris Cyborg, must get through Northern Ireland’s Leah “The Curse” McCourt to set up the epic championship clash for the ages.

Zingano, a legend of the sport who holds notable victories over future UFC Hall of Famers Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes (Yes, that Amanda Nunes), has won three straight since suffering a scary eye injury in a TKO loss to Megan Anderson in 2018.

McCourt lost a unanimous decision against Sinead Kavanagh back in Feb. 2022 before bouncing back with a convincing unanimous decision victory over Dayana Silva in September.

Zingano, who has losses to UFC legend Ronda Rousey and former champion Julianna Pena on her resume, has certainly faced tougher opponents than McCourt, but “Alpha” will have to prove Saturday night that she can still scrap with the best in the division.

Main Event: Marcelo Golm vs. Daniel James

Expect a firefight between Marcelo Golm and Daniel James. Both heavyweights enter this main event clash riding respective four-fight win streaks.

Even more impressive: Those victories have all been finishes.

Marcelo Golm’s found his groove since being knocked out by Sergei Pavlovich at UFC Fight Night 149 in 2019. Owner of seven knockout wins, Golm most recently finished previously-undefeated Davion Franklin by third-round submission at Bellator 283 in July.

He’ll have his hands full with heavy-handed Daniel “The Predator” James, who knocked out Tyrell Fortune in the second round at Bellator 288 in November.

These fighters have both proven they have knockout power to make it a quick night of work, but Golm’s managed to win two of his last four fights by submission. That likely gives the Brazilian a slight advantage if this fight makes it to the ground.

Fight fans are in for numerous treats Friday night, but which showdown will shine through as the fight of the night?

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Jonathan Andrade is a longtime sports reporter based in Southern California. A graduate of Cal State Northridge, Andrade was a full-time newspaper reporter in Ventura County for six years. While covering all sports throughout his career, Andrade gravitated to the storylines of MMA. Away from writing, Andrade enjoys time with his wife and son, and produces a YouTube channel all about reselling.

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