Bellator is back after a short break, and while the card isn’t the one that was originally planned, it’s still a solid lineup. As you’ve probably heard, Yoel Romero will not be at this event. Instead, the Bellator Light-Heavyweight Grand Prix marches on as Anthony “Rumble” Johnson takes on Jose Augusto. This bout is still as intriguing as ever.
In addition, the Bellator Bantamweight Championship is up for grabs as Juan Archuleta defends the crown against Sergio Pettis. We’ve seen Pettis grow before our eyes, but now he’s a legit MMA veteran. He finally gets his shot a gold in a major promotion in Bellator, but Juan Archuleta is a problem for anyone in the world at 135 pounds.
We’ve got all that and a couple more bouts! Read on to see the definitive guide.
Catchweight (175 lbs): Michael “Venom” Page vs. Derek Anderson
Michael “Venom” Page (18-1, 14-1 Bellator) is a fighter out of London Shootfighters in Hackney, London, England. He is something of a curiosity in the MMA space. He is a Karate stylist and he often makes his opponents look utterly hopeless in the cage. This has been a double-edged sword for “Venom” as he’s faced criticism in the past for his strength of schedule (or lack thereof). While I partially agree that some of Page’s opponents didn’t deserve to be in the cage with him, I also think he’s too damn good for most people to handle. Page is elusive, flashy, and unpredictable in the cage. This makes him a tough out for most athletes.
Derek Anderson (17-3, 8-3 Bellator) is a fighter out of Team Xplode MMA in San Diego, California. Anderson, a former lightweight, has faced the whose who in Bellator in his almost decade-long tenure with the organization. He has victories over Saad Awad, Brandon Girtz, and multiple wins over Patricky Pitbull, just to name a few. Anderson is best described as a brawler. He’s down to throw down, and while there’s some serious technique to back it up, it’s brawling regardless. He has some solid wrestling, but that’s not where Anderson typically seeks to win. He likes to hit and hit hard. His striking combinations have come a long way through the years, but he still relies on his power and conditioning to get the job done.
What to Expect: While Anderson is no doubt a tougher-than-usual matchup for Page, he also seems tailor-made to make Page look good. Page likes to dance on the outside and blitz in as his opponents dart in. That’s a problem for Anderson who often attacks in a straight line with big loaded up power. Now, the wrestling is there for Anderson, but Page has gotten pretty good about nullifying grappling attacks. I predict that Anderson will be as durable as ever, but his attacks will be intercepted by counter-strikes from Page. This is a good bout for both men, but the odds are definitely in favor of “Venom”.
Lightweight: Patricky Pitbull vs. Peter Queally
Patricky Pitbull (23-9, 14-7 Bellator) is a fighter out of Pitbull Brothers in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The self-described “Knockout King”, Patricky Pitbull has the most knockout victories in Bellator Lightweight history, and is tied with Michael Page and Douglas Lima for most knockout wins overall. Pitbull has not fought since his December 2019 Rizin 20 showing where he fought twice in one night, becoming the 2019 Rizin Lightweight Grand Prix Runner-Up. The “Knockout King” usually fights like he’s looking to keep that crown, with looping hooks and powerful straights, Pitbull wants to put people away with his hands. That’s not to say, however, that he’s not well-rounded. Pitbull has a solid ground game and some decent kicks, but those skills aren’t usually the ones he looking to capitalize with. He’s great at getting to the center of the cage and controlling it through pressure and okay footwork.
Peter Queally (12-5-1, 1-1 Bellator) is an Irish fighter out of SBG Ireland. He cut his teeth on the European scene before moving onto fight in Fight Nights Global. He made his Bellator debut in 2019 and fought twice for the promotion. So, it’s been a solid bit of time off for Queally. In terms of skills, Queally brings a solid boxing game that’s paired with an equally formidable grappling game. His wrestling is where he lacks the most, but his offensive striking style usually discourages his opponents from getting in close. Queally likes to pressure, firing off combinations. He is good at maintaining distance, retreating just enough to fire off counter strikes. Queally is technically sound everywhere, but vulnerable to fire coming back his way. He’s never been finished, and I’m excited to see if he can keep that streak going against Bellator’s “Knockout King”.
What to Expect: Meet in the middle and slug it out. Both athletes like to control the center of the cage through pressure. Both men have fantastic boxing and I think it will come down to who is more durable. One thing I like about this matchup is that both men have been out of action for over a year, so no ring rust excuses win or lose. I think the athletes will likely find themselves in clinch positions and Pitbull should win those. I’m not sure who will win, but I am sure it’s going to be an all-action affair.
Light-Heavyweight World GP Quarter Final: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Jose Augusto
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6, 0-0 Bellator) is a fighter that needs very little introduction, but I’ll go ahead and do it for the uninitiated. Rumble is a two-time UFC Light-Heavyweight title challenger who boasts massive power in all of his strikes. This is his first fight back in almost five years, and a lot of questions loom over the former UFC roster standout. Rumble has what many would call “the touch of death” as he is known to send people to the canvas with heavy leather. While Johnson has stoppages from kicks, his hands are his most lethal weapons. His wrestling defense has been an issue in the past, and Johnson has been known to mentally break if things aren’t going his way. He’s trained quite a bit in grappling in his time off, and that will come in handy should he need it against Augusto. This is a strange return for Johnson, because as of a week ago, he was supposed to take on Yoel Romero.
Jose Augusto (7-2, 1-0 Bellator) is a Brazilian athlete out of the Pitbull Brothers camp. He is getting the opportunity of a lifetime, filling in for what was supposed to be Yoel Romero’s spot in the Light-Heavyweight Grand Prix. While we don’t know a ton about Augusto, we do know that his ground game is slick and his standup game is developing. He is riding a six-fight unbeaten streak, and he has finished his last three opponents heading into Friday’s Bellator 258.
What to Expect: On media day, Augusto stated that a win on Friday would be “the upset up the century”. I have to agree, because if Rumble is anything like he used to be, Augusto is going to be in trouble from the opening bell. While Augusto has improved his striking, he doesn’t hide his chin well enough to escape the power of Johnson should he connect. Augusto’s best course of action would be to aggressively look to close distance and grapple. He may even want to pull guard. When we last saw Johnson, he had some seriously formidable takedown defense, and I’m sure he’s drilled his sprawl in preparation for his original opponent, Yoel Romero. The only thing that might throw Johnson into uncertain territory is that he’s taking on Augusto on less than a week’s notice.
Bellator Bantamweight Championship: Juan Archuleta vs. Sergio Pettis
Juan Archuleta (25-2, 7-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of California. He is known to work with Duane Ludwig, TJ Dillashaw and Cub Swanson. The most improved aspect of Archuleta’s game is his striking. While he wasn’t bad at striking, he has definitely evolved under the tutelage of the Bang Muay Thai system. Archuleta’s wrestling is probably the best aspect of his game, and he’s used it to secure many victories, especially in close contests. In terms of other attributes, Archuleta’s footwork is solid, and his overall standup game is world class even though it may not be his first choice to get the job done.
Sergio Pettis (20-5, 2-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of Roufusport MMA Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While the spotlight has been on Pettis since he was an amateur, he has developed into a legit MMA veteran in his almost decade-long combat career. Just like his older brother, Sergio Pettis has dynamic striking, but he seems to be more textbook than “Showtime”. That said, in true Pettis form, wrestling is the glaring hole in the game of the young mixed martial artist. Pettis has been in with the best of the best through his years with the UFC, and he finds himself against serious opposition yet again when he takes on Juan Archuleta. Pettis has fantastic movement and quick combinations when he’s able to work his way inside.
What to Expect: I think wrestling will be the key in this bout. As stated earlier, Pettis has had trouble in the past with great wrestlers. In addition, the size difference should be noticeable between the two men. Archuleta fought at 145 pounds before his current Bantamweight title reign, and Pettis fought at 125 pounds before his Bellator run. Pettis should look to stick and move – keeping his back off the cage whenever possible. For Archuleta, it’s the opposite: he should do whatever he can to slow down the movement of Pettis until he can get ahold of him. He should be careful not to get desperate to close the distance, because Pettis can fire off offense from a variety of angles. I think we’re in for a super technical bout which will bring the best out of both men.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights!
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