Now, Bellator 265 has taken some hits. Eight fights have been cancelled or rescheduled, with the most heartbreaking being Adam Borics vs. Jay Jay Wilson. Wilson missed weight by a whopping 4.4 pounds, the fight was cancelled, and Adam Borics got his show money (as he should).
Granted, even though we’ve lost a few fights, we still have some good stuff here. In addition, while these fights aren’t immediately important, the results will have a definite impact on the larger Bellator landscape.
The headliners are a couple of heavyweight veterans. Red corner: Cheick Kongo. Blue corner: Sergei Kharitonov. But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at the rest of the four-fight main card.
Catchweight (140LBS): Jornel Lugo vs. Keith Lee
Jornel Lugo (6-0, 3-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of the Combat Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. A professional competitor since 2019, Lugo is the 8th-ranked Bellator bantamweight and 2-0 since rejoining the promotion. I’m impressed with Lugo’s record, because he is clearly being built, but not with cans. He has fought similar or more experienced competition his entire career. Most recently, Lugo captured a decision win over Cass Bell at Bellator 256.
Keith Lee (7-4, 2-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of Las Vegas, and his is the younger brother of UFC welterweight Kevin Lee. Lee began his MMA career in 2017 and he’s fought for a number of promotions. Lee last competed at Bellator 253 where he dropped a unanimous decision to Raufeon Stots. While Lee has lost before, it was his first in a major promotion. So, it’ll be interesting to see what improvements he’s made.
What to Expect: I expect Lugo to win a decision. While Lee has great footwork and striking fundamentals, the reach of Lugo (73″) will be difficult to overcome. Lugo knows how to maximize his reach with leg kicks, but his boxing is not very developed. Lugo flails while boxing on the inside, and that is where Lee will have the biggest opportunity to win. That said, Lugo knows how to stay out out of danger most of the time, and he’s pretty good on the floor as well. For a reference to how I think this will go, watch Lugo’s win against Cortavious Romious from SFT 23.
Heavyweight: Marcelo Golm vs. Billy Swanson
Marcelo Golm (8-3, 0-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He had a short stint in the UFC where he went 1-3, but after a couple wins on the regional scene, Golm is back in the big lights. He’s had some difficulty keeping an opponent around in Bellator as Swanson is Golm’s third opponent in one week.
Billy Swanson (4-1, 0-0 Bellator) is a fighter out of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. He just got the biggest opportunity of his young MMA career as he’s been called on less than a week to take on Golm. While Swanson once fought as an amateur for Bellator, he is going from unsigned to fighting on the main card. Swanson was 8-1 as an amateur, so he has skills, and three of his four pro wins are via stoppage. He’s got a chance here, but not a great one.
What to Expect: I fully expect Golm to finish Swanson in round one. While Swanson hits hard, that’s not rare at heavyweight. It’s something Golm has seen before, but at a much higher level. I would guess that Swanson hasn’t faced the caliber of BJJ player that Golm represents. While Golm should be defensively responsible, he should win after his first takedown.
Welterweight: Logan Storley vs. Dante Schiro
Logan Storley (11-1, 6-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of Sanford MMA in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He last fought at Bellator 252 where he lost a split-decision to current champion Yaroslav Amosov. That said, a ton of observers thought that Storley won that fight. Storley is the hometown fighter at Bellator 265, and the matchmaking is clearly for Storley to rebound from his lone professional loss in a big way.
Dante Schiro (8-2, 0-0 Bellator) is an athlete out of Madison, Wisconsin with Chosen Few Gym. Schiro went pro in 2018, and he’s earned seven of his eight wins via stoppage. His only career setbacks were a couple razor-thin split-decisions. In addition, Schiro is coming off a TKO win over UFC-vet Kenny Robertson. Overall, Schiro seems to be a good, young fighter, but one that’s meant to lose to the hometown fighter nonetheless.
What to Expect: I expect Storley to win a dominant and quick fight. Storley has fantastic wrestling and always-improving striking. Schiro is pretty tough, and he has serviceable skills everywhere. He is a submission threat, but on the feet, he seems pretty vulnerable. While Schiro isn’t a pushover, and he clearly has talent, I’m sure he hasn’t faced someone like Storley. I mean, Schiro is a +1300 underdog in some places, so if you have $20 you never want to see again, you know what to do.
Heavyweight: Cheich Kongo vs. Sergei Kharitonov
Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 12-3-1 Bellator) requires no introduction to longtime fans of MMA. Once a staple of the UFC heavyweight division, Kongo has been on a legendary run since moving to Bellator. In fact, Kongo hasn’t been finished since 2013. Kongo is a fantastic striker, but he is very conservative. In addition, he is great at shoving people against the fence, and his wrestling game has come a long way since his UFC debut in 2006.
Sergei Kharitonov (32-8, 3-2-1 Bellator) is an athlete out of the Netherlands with team Golden Glory. Kharitonov made his pro debut in 2000 and he’s faced off with some of the biggest heavyweight names of the past twenty years. In addition to MMA, Kharitonov has competed in kickboxing and, most recently, boxing. He has wins over the likes of Nelson, Mitrione, Sokoudjou, Arlovski and Overeem, just to name a few. He is a power puncher, but he doesn’t have many weapons as lethal as his hands.
What to Expect: I expect Kongo to win via stoppage, but not in the first round. Don’t get me wrong, Kharitonov can definitively get it done with his striking power. That said, Kongo doesn’t get caught often. That’s mainly due to Kongo’s conservative style and overall cage awareness. Kharitonov needs to start fast and throw caution to the wind to get it done. If he tries to play Kongo’s game, that’s a recipe for disaster.
And that’s it! Enjoy, and I’ll see you at the fights.
It’s been a pleasure.