Bellator MMA is doing things a little different to commemorate its 200th card on Friday, May 25. While the promotion is offering a stacked fight card worthy of 200 shows, it will offer said card on tape delay from London, England. The card also recently created a new main event after the planned bout between Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Roy Nelson was scrapped after Cro Cop suffered an injury.
Anastasia Yankova (5-0) vs. Kate Jackson (9-3-1) (Flyweight – 125 lbs.)
This fight was originally going to be the featured preliminary bout before the card’s reshuffling pushed this onto the main card. Yankova was once tagged as Bellator’s next “It” fighter, but has yet to actually make the 125-pound weight limit and hasn’t fought in over a year. Jackson is coming off a hard-fought loss to veteran Valerie Letourneau last year, but previously won six of seven fights, including her Bellator debut.
Yankova is known primarily for her submissions but has shown a willingness to slug it out with her opponents. Jackson has knockouts in three out of her last four wins, and I think she will use her striking to negate Yankova’s attempts to get the fight to the mat. I also think the hometown fighter Jackson hands Yankova her first pro loss in what some might consider an upset.
Winner: Jackson by unanimous decision
Aaron Chalmers (3-0) vs. Ash Griffiths (4-5) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
Chalmers is also well-known to fans in the United Kingdom, as he was on a popular reality television show over there. But he also seems to have talent as a fighter, as evidenced by his undefeated record and the fact that all three wins have come by knockout or submission. Griffiths hasn’t won a fight in more than three years and has been finished in each of his last four losses. Needless to say, I’m sure Chalmers will make his reality television fans very happy in this fight.
Winner: Chalmers by knockout
Phil Davis (18-4) vs. Linton Vassell (18-6) (Light Heavyweight – 205 lbs.)
Both of these guys are jockeying for a rematch with Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. Davis has not received a rematch after dropping the title to Bader at Bellator’s Madison Square Garden card last year. Davis won his last fight over unheralded Leo Leite, while Vassell lost his last fight for the title to Bader by knockout.
It is no secret that Davis wants to wrestle, and that he does it extremely well. Vassell has previously struggled on the ground, and I expect Davis to take him down early and often and smother his way to another decision win and get one step closer to a title rematch.
Winner: Davis by unanimous decision
Michael Page (12-0) vs. David Rickels (19-4) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
Page is also making his return to Bellator after a lengthy absence and should face his first real stiff test against Rickels, who is not only known for his entertaining entrances but for also being willing to stand and trade with anyone. Page’s athleticism and unorthodox striking should come into play early and often in this fight, and I expect him to keep Rickels off guard at the onset.
However, I also think Page has another highlight-worthy striking display up his sleeve, and I expect him to eventually unload it and dazzle fans in his triumphant return to Bellator.
Winner: Page by TKO
Rafael Carvalho (15-1) vs. Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2) (Middleweight Title – 185 lbs.)
This fight was promoted from co-main event to main event after the injury to Cro Cop. Carvalho is on a roll right now, having successfully defended his title three times with two knockouts. He is probably the most unheralded fighter in mixed martial arts and has been undefeated since losing his very first pro fight in 2011.
Mousasi will not be an easy task, however. He weathered a brutal eye injury to edge out Alexander Shlemenko in his Bellator debut last year, and is one of the toughest fighters around. Mousasi hasn’t lost in nearly three years and has four knockouts in his last five wins. I don’t expect a lot of ground work in this fight. I expect both guys to search for a knockout, and we could see some crazy striking exchanges over these five rounds. Ultimately, I think Carvalho continues his unprecedented run and outsrikes Mousasi in what should be a title fight worthy of such a big event for Bellator.
Winner: Carvalho by unanimous decision
Image Credit: Bellator MMA