Bellator MMA is back with a fantastic show at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The show is live on Showtime at 9pm ET. The card is headlined by an intriging contest between the Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.
Also on the main card, we will be treated to the likes of Paul Daley, Jason Jackson, Aaron Pico, and Vanessa Porto. Former World Series of Fighting Welterweight Champion Nick Newell is even making an appearance on the prelims.
Without any further delay, let’s take a detailed look at the main card bouts!
Welterweight: Demarques Jackson vs. Mark Lemminger
Demarques Jackson (11-5, 1-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is a bit short for the welterweight class, but he makes up for it with big muscles and explosiveness. He often starts fights very aggressive, seemingly looking to overwhelm opponents early. He favors the rear leg kick, and it is quick and powerful. He’ll often follow up that leg kick with a left hook. Jackson executes well with his wrestling, but he often relies on his power to finish takedowns. That reliance on power means that as the fight goes on and he gets tired, he gets worse at getting the takedown. Once on the mat, Jackson is very good at taking the back of his opponents and just grappling in general. Jackson’s BJJ brown belt shows most when he’s in top position, and he’s struggled in the past to work his way off of his back. He’s had a rough go of it as of late, winning only one of his last four bouts. He most recently dropped a decision to Grachik Bozinyan at Bellator 257.
Mark Lemminger (11-3, 1-2 Bellator) is a fighter out of Chosen Few Gym in McFarland, Wisconsin. He is on the first losing streak of his career, dropping two in a row after winning his Bellator debut. Those losses were to Jaleel Willis and Yaroslav Amosov, so nothing to be ashamed of. Lemminger is a well-rounded athlete, but not overly dominant in any one area. Lemminger’s base martial art is wrestling and it shows in his top control and takedowns. That said, he isn’t reliant on the takedown. He is quite willing to trade, but he often leaves himself to get hit. He likes hooks, he likes lunging punches, and he’s usually willing to move forward. Lemminger is a fun fighter to watch and he gets the job done more often than not.
What to Expect: Regardless of who comes away victorious, I expect a fun and well-matched contest. I’m interested to see who wins out in the wrestling front. I think Lemminger is better-equipped to get the takedown, and I think he is better at inflicting damage once he secures position. If Jackson can get the takedown, he has a decent chance of capturing a submission win. On the feet, the two men are explosive enough to make things exciting, and they are sloppy enough to make things fun. Both men have been finished before, and I expect a finish in this fight one way or the other.
Flyweight: Vanessa Porto vs. Ilara Joanne
Vanessa Porto (22-8, 0-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of Drenix Iglesia Team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has fought mostly in Invicta FC since 2012, and she made her Bellator debut at Bellator 256 against Liz Carmouche. While that fight didn’t go her way, Porto is still 4-1 in her last five bouts. Porto’s skillset is well-rounded: she has solid kickboxing and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While striking, Porto has powerful boxing and good kicks that she uses as range finders for her punches. She seems to be pretty strong and it’s especially noticeable when she has top position on the ground. Porto sometimes puts herself in bad positions with her dogged pursuit of the finish. Due to this hyper-aggressiveness, Porto also wears down over the course of a contest. She can be wrestled and worn down, but opponents have to get through her powerful strikes to do it.
Ilara Joanne (9-5, 1-1 Bellator) is a fighter out of Pitbull Brothers Gym in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. Joanne hasn’t stepped in the cage since 2019, and she’s coming off a loss to Kana Watanabe at Bellator 237. Joanne has had some time off, and she’s young, so I have no doubt she’s improved. Looking at the most up-to-date footage we have, Joanne has some solid and aggressive striking. She has a good lead hook and she isn’t afraid to let loose with combinations. Her wrestling and grappling is good too; she showed it off in her submission win over Bec Rawlings. That said, she showed in her loss to Watanabe that she has difficulty dealing with high pressure on the ground. In that bout, she was never able to get back to her feet. She would often bite on half-cooked submission attempts, which put her in worse and worse positions.
What to Expect: I think Porto is better technically in the striking, but Joanne starts faster. Porto had difficulty cutting off the cage against Liz Carmouche at Bellator 256, and I think she may find herself in a similar situation in this bout. Joanne has good footwork that keeps her out of danger in the outside striking range. The plodding motion of Porto might struggle to keep up with the younger, faster Joanne. Both women are competent wrestlers, and Porto has a BJJ black belt. That said, I don’t expect this one to hit the floor.
Featherweight: Aaron Pico vs. Aiden Lee
Aaron Pico (7-3, 7-3 Bellator) is an athlete out of Jackson Wink MMA. Pico was something of an MMA wunderkind upon his signing to Bellator MMA in 2014, a full three years before his debut in 2017. While Pico has seen his ups and downs in his young MMA career, he is still one to watch as he matures into the sport. He is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, all stoppages within the first two rounds. Pico brings to the sport a fantastic wrestling base, and a boxing pedigree that includes a Golden Gloves championship. Since making the full-time switch to Jackson Wink MMA, Pico has learned to better utilize his wrestling and use it to inflict damage. He likes half-guard for control and damage, and his opponents often find it difficult to survive under his ground assault. Even if they do survive, his striking is very good, especially his boxing. Nowadays, Pico uses his striking to close the distance and dominate with takedowns. He looks better than ever and he’s only 24 years old.
Aiden Lee (9-4, 2-1 Bellator) is a fighter out of Team Renegade BJJ in Birmingham, England. While he lost his Bellator MMA debut at Bellator Birmingham in 2019, Lee has since won two straight in the promotion, both by stoppage. Lee is tall for the featherweight class, and he has a reach to match. These physical attributes help him utilize his stick and move boxing. He loves his footwork, and he likes to mix in kicks from the outside. In terms of weapons, Lee combines long, straight shots with long hooks and lunging straights. He’s also good on the counter, usually able to answer back as an opponent advances with strikes. Lee has solid jiu-jitsu, but his wrestling leaves a bit to be desired. He’s much more likely to hop on an opponent’s back than he is to hit a slick double leg takedown. On the wrestling defense front, Lee seems to stand just a bit too tall, and as a result, he is vulnerable to the takedown. Lee’s wrestling is improving, but he’s much more of a BJJ threat than a wrestling one.
What to Expect: While Aiden Lee has fantastic striking, I think his natural tendencies might get the best of him. He stands tall, and he’s easily pressured to the cage. Both attributes will make him especially at risk for the high-pressure wrestling of Aaron Pico. It will be interesting to see how Lee answers the impending takedowns from Pico. He is more than capable of popping off with a knee or uppercut to counter Pico’s level changes. This is a very well-matched fight between two fighters who are improving with every showing.
Welterweight: Paul Daley vs. Jason Jackson
Paul Daley (43-17-2, 10-4 Bellator) needs very little introduction to veteran fans of MMA. He trains out of Team Rough House in Nottingham, England and has fought just about everywhere in the sport since 2003. He has competed in both kickboxing and MMA in the time since his pro debut. While he has rounded out his game over the years, the blueprint to (safely) beat Daley has been out for some time: take him down and look for the tap. If he can avoid the takedown, Daley is a ferocious striker and a wild finisher. He will go for broke if he feels his opponent is hurt which puts him at risk at times. Daley’s left hook is probably his most lethal weapon, but all of his striking arsenal is dangerous. He is coming off a fantastic bout against Sabah Homasi where he scored a second round finish. Daley is riding a three-fight winning streak with stoppages in his most recent two bouts.
Jason Jackson (14-4, 4-1 Bellator) is a fighter out of Sanford MMA and he has put together a nice four-fight run in the lead-up to this bout against Daley, the most recent win being a unanimous decision over Neiman Gracie at Bellator 255. Before his jump to Bellator, Jackson captured the LFA Welterweight title. His game is based on using his length to put together boxing combinations which are quite powerful. He doesn’t put people away often, but he is good at maintaining his striking distance and staying patient. In addition, since his decision loss to Ed Ruth, Jackson’s Bellator debut, Jackson has clearly worked on his wrestling defense and grappling in general.
What to Expect: I think Jackson has cleaner technique even though he has less experience overall. I was very impressed with his win over Gracie. Jackson overcame the odds and survived a gruesome injury that involved his face grating against the cage, affecting his vision from the first round. Jackson has clean punches, and while he isn’t a finisher, he stays technical and knows how to win. Daley will be looking for the big shot to put Jackson down. For that reason, I think Jackson will rely on his newly developed wrestling game in unison with his nice jab and straight right. Should be fun.
Bellator MMA Welterweight Championship: Douglas Lima vs. Yaroslav Amosov
Douglas Lima (32-8, 14-4 Bellator) is the Bellator MMA Welterweight Champion, and he fights out of American Top Team. Lima is one of the winningest fighters in Bellator history with wins over the likes of Paul Daley, Andrey Koreshkov, Lorenz Larkin, and Rory MacDonald. Uncommon for a champion, Lima is coming off a decision loss to Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 250 in a failed attempt to gain champ-champ status. While that didn’t go his way, Lima is still at the top of his game. Lima brings to the cage excellent striking, solid wrestling, and a BJJ black belt. He is battle tested and he’s been scheduled for a five-round bout in seven straight bouts. Lima has fantastic leg kicks, and great boxing combinations on the inside. Pair his solid stand up with his equally solid takedown defense, and Lima is a capable a champion as we have in the whole of MMA.
Yaroslav Amosov (25-0, 6-0 Bellator) is a fighter out of Germes Team in Kiev, Ukraine. Amosov currently has the best undefeated record in MMA and for good reason: He brings a well-rounded game with some of the best Sambo in the sport. Amosov is not a power-striker, instead, he picks away with combinations that usually force opponents to try to grapple. Once the wrestling starts, Amosov is almost always able to take control from there. His striking is technically sound, and he’s generally able to stay safe until he can get his grappling going. Amosov is not perfect, and he’s there to be hit, but not often. That said, he gets kicked to the legs quite a bit, and if he hasn’t worked on checking kicks, he’s going to get chewed up by Lima.
What to Expect: I expect a competitive bout that goes the distance. Conditioning, Leg kicks and takedowns are going to be what this fight hinges on. Amosov is not a powerhouse of a fighter, but his pace is consistent over the course of a fight. Lima is tested in the conditioning department, and he passes with flying colors. If Amosov cannot mitigate the leg kicks from Lima, he is going to have a tough time pushing off his legs for takedowns and punch combinations. I’m very excited for this one.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights!
If you’d like to keep up with me outside of the predictions, you can catch me on the Sparring Partners Podcast, either on YouTube or Spotify.
Feel free to reach out in the comments below!
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