Bellator showed off one of the most fun and entertaining cards they have ever had on Friday and they are planning to back it up with another high stakes card from London with Bellator 223 on Saturday. Dana White’s Contender Series returns on Tuesday with a fresh batch of hungry up and coming MMA fighters looking to break into the UFC and then they will travel to Greenville South Carolina for a fight card littered with young talent and notable names. Believe it or not, THAT’S NOT ALL. The MMA freak show that is Bare Knuckle FC returns with their biggest card to date headlined by UFC drop out Artem Lobov facing self-proclaimed McGregor nemesis Paulie Malignaggi.
Since there aren’t lines out for some of these fights we can’t give official picks, but we do want to give you something to look for once they drop.
Starting with Dana White’s Contender Series the fight to watch is Brendan Loughnane vs Bill Algeo! Brendan is 16-3 with 76% finish rate fighting out of Alliance MMA. Alliance MMA brough you notable names like Chris Leben, Angela Hill, Bec Rawlings, and Brandon Vera. Brendan went 5-0 as an amateur with 5 finished before going pro in 2010 and 2 of his 3 losses were to Pat Healy and Tom Duquesnoy by split decision showing he can hang with a high level of competition. Bill Algeo is 11-3 and seems to be ready for a set up himself. Going 3-0 as an amateur and sporting a 72% finish rate Bill went to a decision with Jared “Flash’ Gordon and his only other 2 losses game from the UFCs Shane Burgos and a loss in his 2nd pro fight. While both are impressive Brendan has the better camp and more experience and I would expect him to pull this off.
Early lean: Brendan Loughnane
The Bare Knuckle FC has taken off after its recent bloodbath starring UFC dropouts Artem Lobov and Jason Knight. Both fighters are incredibly tough but couldn’t cut it against the savvier opponents at the sports highest level. In the Bare Knuckle FC however they seem to be a perfect fight. Willing to bleed and go to war without gloves for protection takes a very special kind of person and the BKFC seems to have found its next two stars. Artem is mostly known for being Conor McGregor’s training partner and friend and we all remember what the McGregor camp did to Paulie in the lead up to MayMac a few years ago. We mostly remember because retired boxer Pauli Malignaggi won’t let us forget!
Paulie might be one of the most unlikable figures in combat sports these days, but he knows how to stir up drama and sell a fight. He has poked and prodded Artem, spit on him, and even slapped him leading up to BKFC 6. The one thing that we will not be able to deny is the skill gap between Artem and Paulie. Paulie is a champion level boxer and while Artem’s boxing was his go-to weapon in MMA he was an MMA fighter where the level of pure boxing skill is considerable lower. Without the use of takedowns and kicks Paulie has a clear skill and speed advantage here. The risk that you run backing Paulie is that he is older and hasn’t fought seriously for some time, his hands are notably brittle and he could break them, and in a bare knuckle contest will he be able to out-will a fighter like Artem.
I would be willing to play Artem around +200 or better simply banking on the fact that Paulie will take some shots and Artem hits like a truck. If he is able to land some shots with little padding I do not know how deep Paulie will dig. Artem has no issues scarring his face up and tasting his own blood to get a win, but is Paulie willing to go that far?
Lean: Paulie Malignaggi
- Depending on the line there may be value on Artem
Bellator 223 is hard on the heels of Bellator’s best event of 2019 and they are headed to London with a stacked card. The main event has former UFC contender and current Bellator champion Gegard Mousasi against 9-0 undefeated Rafael Lovato Jr. The card will also feature Paul Daley vs Erick Silva and the return of James Gallagher vs Jeremiah Labino.
Gegard was fighting in the deep end of the UFC and couldn’t get a title shot even though he was completely deserving, so he took off to Bellator and snagged that belt quick. Mousasi is currently riding an 8 fight win streak and destroyed fellow Bellator champion Rory McDonald in his last fight. RLJ is a submission specialist who is 9-0 with 6 submissions, but I highly doubt he is ready for Mousasi. I expect the line to be wide, but I will still play Mousasi in this one. Just like we saw Rory do to Gracie last week you have to be a well rounded fighter to get your hands on those belts and Gegard was contending with top grapplers in the UFC not too long ago. He will force Jr to stand with him and I would think he gets it done inside the distance.
Lean: Gegard Mousasi