After six weeks away, Bellator MMA returns to live action. The first MMA show of autumn brings with it some summerlike heat to 3Arena in Dublin. Bellator 299 takes place this Saturday and it’s got a packed card.
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Absent of any postponed contests between now and Saturday, this show features 21 MMA fights. Live coverage of the stacked event begins with the undercard at 11 am ET/ 8 am PT on YouTube. Main card action follows at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on the Showtime premium cable network.
The Bellator 299 main event looks like it’s a cracking affair on paper. These two fighters have a combined 25-2 record heading into this one.
Eblen Battles Edwards for Bellator Middleweight Championship
At stake on Saturday: The Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship. Incumbent champion Johnny Eblen (13-0 MMA, 9-0 Bellator) puts his strap on the line when he meets challenger and No. 1 contender Fabian Edwards (12-2 MMA, 8-2 Bellator.)
As with all Bellator championship bouts, the Bellator 299 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.
𝗕𝗘𝗟𝗟𝗔𝗧𝗢𝗥 𝗧𝗔𝗞𝗘𝗢𝗩𝗘𝗥 🇮🇪
We are 𝗕𝗔𝗖𝗞 in the Irish capital THIS SATURDAY with a stacked card of fan favorites. Which fight are you most hyped for? 👀
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) September 20, 2023
Bellator 299 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Bellator 299 main event on Saturday night, both Johnny Eblen and Fabian Edwards stand level in height at 6-foot-1. Edwards gains separation in the reach with a 5 1/2-inch (79 1/2 inches to 74 inches even) advantage over Eblen, however.
As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Johnny Eblen installed as a -625 favorite, with Fabian Edwards countering as a +325 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Eblen Teams Up With Strickland and Talks Edwards
Johnny Eblen comes into this headlining bout having yet to lose so far in his professional MMA career. Counting amateur bouts, the champion is currently on a 16-fight winning streak.
Most recently, he scored a unanimous decision victory on Feb. 4 against Anatoly Tokov (31-4 MMA, 7-1 Bellator) during Bellator 290 on CBS. The champ has been known to train with another titleholder in the past, current UFC Middleweight Champion Sean Strickland.
“He helped me train for the [Gegard] Mousasi fight,” Eblen said. I went out to [Las] Vegas. He hit me up. We started training a bit. We became training partners and friends. And every time I’m out in Vegas, I make sure to get rounds with him and train with him. And anytime he’s in Florida, usually he comes by [American Top Team]”.
In the same interview with The New York Post, Eblen had a few choice words to say about his adversary.
“He’s athletic, moves well, good kickboxer, fast,” the champ continued. “I’ve heard from one of my teammates he’s a pretty strong individual. But the thing that doesn’t impress me is that he doesn’t really want to be in the fire. He wants things to be a lot cleaner. He wants it to be more technical.”
Will Strickland’s tutelage pay off for Eblen? Tune into the Bellator 299 main event and find out on Saturday.
Edwards Up For the Challenge
In the other corner, Fabian Edwards has gone 3-2 in his last five appearances. Currently, he’s on a three-fight winning streak, one which was extended on May 12 with a unanimous decision of Gegard Mousasi (49-9-2 MMA, 7-3 Bellator) during Bellator 296.
Although the stakes are high for Edwards going into the fight, he’s not letting the pressure of the championship get to him. He told Cageside Press that he’s been down this road with a high-profile opponent before.
“I know how to handle it,” Edwards said. “I know how to handle it. When you’re on the night and someone’s giving it loads and the emotion can take over, you don’t play a part. I know I can keep my emotions in check and use it for the right reasons.”
The time for talk is over for both of these men. Let the battle in the cage begin.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 299 main event looks to favor Fabian Edwards, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Johnny Eblen’s background as a former collegiate wrestler for The University of Missouri in Columbia, an NCAA powerhouse.
Watch Out for Eblen’s Kicks
Even though Johnny Eblen is a wrestler by trade, his kicking game is phenomenal. Collin Huckbody found this out firsthand during Bellator 272.
Huckbody had no idea what hit him. Once the bell rang to begin the first round of the fight, Eblen went to work with leg kicks. On the second kick, Eblen’s stance changed to southpaw and he was able to seize control of the contest right then and there.
Even though Collin Huckbody landed a few kicks of his own, Johnny Eblen was the tougher customer at the shop that night. The champ unloaded a flurry of shots on the ground and against the cage, leaving Huckbody no other option to accept defeat and turn his back.
If Johnny Eblen gets out to a quick start with leg kicks and body shots, he’ll defend the belt during the Bellator 299 main event.
Edwards Can Score with a Flying Knee
In the other corner, don’t discount Fabian Edwards’ ability to land the flying knee. He won his Bellator debut in 2017 versus Rafat Cejrowski in devastating fashion.
Round one of the contest began with the men stalking one another while Cejrowski landed some leg kicks. Edwards connected on some fast combinations to put momentum on his side of the ledger, firing his shots from range all the while.
Cejrowski made a crucial mistake by initiating the clinch with Edwards, something that his cornermen advised him to attack with a jumping knee. Edwards took full advantage of this by landing knees to the body from the clinch, opening up the opportunity to land that flying knee square and true to knock Cejrowski out.
Look for Fabian Edwards to try and fire off combinations on Saturday. If he can catch Johnny Eblen napping just a little bit, he’ll walk out of Dublin the new champion.
This is every MMA fan’s dream come true in the Bellator 299 main event. You’ll have the champion and top contender squaring off to see who gets the belt around his waist. Whoever wins this fight will have truly earned the right to be called the best in the world.
Prediction: Johnny Eblen by Unanimous Decision.