Bellator touches down in Uncansville, Connecticut to bring us Bellator 262: Valasquez vs. Kielholtz. The main event, between champion Juliana Velasquez and #4 Denise Kielholtz, is for the Bellator MMA Flyweight Championship.
In addition, heavyweights Tyrell Fortune throws down with Matt Mitrione in the co-main event.
We’ve got three other bouts on the main card, so let’s start at the bottom and work our way to the main event.
Middleweight: Johnny Eblen vs. Travis Davis
Johnny Eblen (8-0, 4-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of American Top Team in Boca Raton, Florida. The 29-year-old fighter made his promotional debut in 2017 and has never tasted defeat. Eblen’s base is wrestling and he shows it with excellent ground control and takedowns. In addition, the man is tough and able to maintain a pace over 15 minutes. The most improved aspect of Elben’s game is his striking which put away his most recent opponent, Daniel Madrid, in the first round.
Travis Davis (10-4, 0-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of Ronin Training Center in Columbus, Ohio. Davis’ bout at Bellator 262 is his first step up from the Midwest regional MMA circuit. He is also a professional boxer, unbeaten in five contests. In MMA, Davis has won two straight bouts heading into his fight with Eblen. He is a finisher, but his recent wins reveal a focus on submission grappling.
What to Expect: I expect Eblen to win in dominant fashion. Bellator does a great job building its prospects. Elben shouldn’t fight guys with losing records or less fights than him. Davis wins more than he loses, but he hasn’t fought anyone of note and he’s on the wrong side of thirty. At this stage of his career, Eblen needs to fight more experienced athletes that are beatable. That’s what we have in this matchup. Eblen might not finish Davis, but he will dominate the bout.
Featherweight: Arlene Blencowe vs. Dayana Silva
Arlene Blencowe (13-8, 6-4 Bellator) is a fighter out of New South Wales, Australia. In terms of training, Blencowe calls several training centers home, but Jackson Wink is the most high-profile. She brings to the cage a fantastic striking skillset, but her ground fighting has always left a bit to be desired. She most recently challenged for the Bellator Flyweight Championship, losing via submission to Cris Cyborg.
Dayana Silva (9-6, 0-1 Bellator) is a Brazilian fighter out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She trains with Pejor Team, and she’s been a professional fighter since 2009. Silva is also a bigger featherweight, regularly competing at lightweight. Silva is versed on the floor, but she perfers to strike with her opponents. She likes to fight at range, pumping jabs and kicks. That said, she isn’t the best about taking control of the fight. It usually seems like she’s just in there, which explains her high rate of split-decision losses.
What to Expect: I expect a decision for Blencowe. Both women will want the contest on the feet, and I think Blencowe is more technical overall. Neither woman has big power, so I don’t see a finish as very likely. While Silva may trouble Blencowe a bit with her kicks, I don’t think it will be enough to win her the bout.
Bantamweight: Matheus Mattos vs. Cee Jay Hamilton
Matheus Mattos (12-2-1, 0-1 Bellator) is a fighter with Pitbull Brothers team in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. He is an experience athlete, although his record doesn’t show it. Mattos made his professional debut in 2011, but he hasn’t remained active the entire time. For example, he’s only fought once since 2018. Mattos brings a well-rounded skillset to the cage, but he believes in his striking power and fights like it. He is a submission threat, but he is vulnerable to heavy wrestling.
Cee Jay Hamilton (15-8, 0-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of Hartwell, Georgia and he fights with Contemporary Martial Arts. This 34-year-old martial artists made his professional debut in 2013 and he’s fought a good mix of opposition, losing mostly to people I’ve heard of. Hamilton is a striker with great movement and a solid arsenal of weapons. He has never been stopped via strikes, but wrestling and grappling have always been a sore spot in his game.
What to Expect: This one is a bit of a tossup. I heavily lean towards Mattos if he chooses to grapple. His ground skills are much better than Hamilton’s and I feel he could get a submission finish should he choose to. Unfortunately for Mattos, he likes to trade punches. In the (likely) scenario Mattos chooses to bang it out, I think Hamilton’s movement and strikes could win out. Considering this is a bantamweight contest, this should be fun.
Heavyweight: Tyrell Fortune vs. Matt Mitrione
Tyrell Fortune (10-1, 10-1 Bellator) is a heavyweight athlete out of Boca Raton, Florida. Fortune came into MMA as a wrestler, but he has since added in quick footwork and relaxed striking. He is really big and really athletic, making Fortune an interesting test for any heavyweight. In terms of weapons, Fortune has a good jab and a nice right hand that often comes behind it. One issue I see is when Fortune exits a clinch – his hands are either straight out or down by his side, either way, they aren’t protecting his chin. He doesn’t chain takedown attempts often, but that’s mainly because he’s able to get the first attempt.
Matt Mitrione (13-8, 4-3 Bellator) making his MMA debut on TUF 10 in 2009, Mitrione is a verified veteran of heavyweight MMA. He trains out of Milwaukee and he’s in a bit of an MMA slump. Mitrione’s Bellator run is a tale of two fighters: pre-Bader bout and post-Bader bout. Since putting together a fantastic run from 2016 to 2018 which saw Mitrione defeat both Roy Nelson and Fedor, things haven’t been the same. Mitrione lost a title bid to Bader in 2018 and hasn’t won since, getting finished in his two most recent showings. All that said, Mitrione is still a legit threat. He’s big, fast, and powerful, the holy trifecta of heavyweight MMA.
What to Expect: I expect high pressure and a takedown clinic from Fortune. I just can’t imagine Mitrione fighting off the wreslting of Fortune. Will Fortune’s takedowns result in a finish? Possibly, but it will at least count for a decision win over an experienced name in Mitrione. Fortune will need to hide his chin and avoid getting wreckless, because Mitrione throws from sneaky angles and he hits hard. I mean, Mitrione knocked a dude out with his hip at UFC on FUEL TV 9, so anything can happen.
Bellator MMA Flyweight Championship: Juliana Velasquez vs. Denise Kielholtz
Juliana Velasquez (11-0, 6-0 Bellator) is the Bellator MMA flyweight champion and her bout at Bellator 262 is her first defense of the belt. She fights out of Team Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is a striker who uses distance management and a good lead hand to foil her opposition. It isn’t the most effective finishing style, but it is effective and no one has been able to stop it. In addition to striking, Velasquez is good in the clinch and she is skilled at stifling opponents against the fence.
Denise Kielholtz (6-2, 6-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of Team Schreiber in Amsterdam. Originally a Bellator Kickboxing product, Kielholtz has made a successful transition to MMA. She has only lost once since returning to the sport in 2017, and she has an active four-fight win streak. Kielholtz relies on her fantastic striking, but she isn’t afraid to grapple. She has obviously been working on a well-rounded game, even when she was just kickboxing. When she does strike, though, Kielholtz fires impactful combinations.
What to Expect: I think the conservative approach of Velasquez will win out, but Kielholtz can clearly win. Kielholtz has power, speed, endurance and is pretty well-rounded. Velasquez is less explosive with her techniques, but she is great at keeping the fight at her pace (slow) and dialing up the pressure as the fight goes on. I predict that this bout goes 25 minutes, and the current champ stays the champ.
That’s it! Thank you very much for reading!
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