Bellator 289 Preview

Bellator 289
Photo Credit: MMAmania.BellatorMMA.

Bellator 289 showcases both semifinal matchups in the Bantamweight World Grand Prix, as well as a Women’s title fight between Liz Carmouche and Juliana Velasquez.

IC Raufeon Stots vs #6 Danny Sabatello

The Main Event of Bellator 289 features an Interim Bantamweight title fight between Raufeon Stots (18-1) and Danny Sabatello (13-1). In Stots’ last matchup he put on an incredible performance stopping Juan Archuleta in the third round. This was a coming-out party for the Interim Champion and showcased his ever-evolving striking game. Sabatello has been a pleasant surprise in the Bantamweight tournament and is 3-0 since joining the Bellator promotion. Sabatello won dominant decision’s over Jornel Lugo and Leonardo Higo and will look to implement his world-class wrestling in this matchup as well.

Both Stots and Sabatello have collegiate wrestling backgrounds making this a very intriguing matchup. Stots was a division 2 national champion at the University of Nebraska-Kearney twice. Sabatello wrestled in the Big Ten at Purdue and qualified for the NCAA Championships three times. This fight may come down to who has better striking because both fighters are tremendous wrestlers. Stot’s striking has continued to get better and it will be interesting to see what Sabatello’s gameplan will be on the feet.

Tensions are high in this matchup, in multiple interviews, these two have had heated verbal exchanges. Sabatello and Stots are both extremely confident and competitive, each knows exactly how much this fight means to their young careers. The winner of this fight will move on to the Final of the Bantamweight Grand Prix as Interim Champion.

#2 Patchy Mix vs #3 Magomed Magomedov

The second semifinal of the Bantamweight Grand Prix is a highly competitive matchup between two top-five-ranked fighters. Mix (16-1) just defeated former Champion Kyoji Horiguchi by unanimous decision in April. In that fight Mix controlled his opponent on the ground taking him down multiple times while threatening submissions. Mix is an impressive grappler who has won 4 of his 5 Bellator fights by submissions. Magomedov (19-2) is a dynamic wrestler whose only losses are to Bellator champion Raufeon Stots and Former UFC champion Peter Yan, who he also holds a win.

Magomedov is 3-1 in his four fights with Bellator and has quickly risen up the division rankings. At 30 years old Magomedov is in the prime of his career and is a slight betting favorite at online sportsbooks (-130). Magomedov has faced tougher competition then Mix, but Mix is improving dramatically with every performance. In Mix’s fight with James Gallagher, he showed that he is dangerous wherever the fight takes place. Mix submitted Gallagher in that fight by guillotine, but it was Mix’s punches and knockdown that led to the finish.

This semifinal matchup is very interesting and is a clash of styles between the well-balanced Mix and Magomedov’s grapple-heavy approach. Magomedov will likely look to take this fight to the ground and utilize his strength advantage. Mix will be more than happy to exchange punches on the feet and will try to use his defensive jiu-jitsu if he gets taken down. The winner of this fight will face the winner of Sabatello vs Stots in the Bantamweight Grand Prix Final.

(C) Liz Carmouche vs #1 Juliana Velasquez

This women’s championship fight is a rematch from April that ended in a controversial stoppage in the fourth round. Liz Carmouche (17-7) is a former UFC veteran who challenged Ronda Rousey in the UFC’s first-ever female championship fight. Carmouche has fought the best in the world over her career and has found a home at Bellator going 4-0 inside the promotion. Juliana Velasquez (12-1) is the former Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion, with her only loss coming in her first fight with Carmouche.

In the first fight, Carmouche tried to take Velasquez down continuously, really trying to put pressure on her opponent. In the fourth round, Carmouche got Velasquez in the crucifix position, blocking Velasquez’s ability to escape. From that position, Carmouche landed about 15 unanswered punches that forced the referee to stop the fight. Many fans were disappointed because they felt the shots of Carmouche were not damaging enough for a title fight to be stopped.

In the rematch, Carmouche will look to employ a similar game plan. Carmouche may attempt to take down Velasquez and control the fight on the ground again. Velasquez will need to make adjustments for this fight and have a game plan for how to get back to her feet if she gets taken down.

Bellator 289 Prelims

The Bellator 289 prelims have many interesting matchups with up-and-coming fighters. #5 Dalton Rosta will take on #10 Anthony Adams in a ranked Middleweight fight. Rosa (7-0) is undefeated in his professional career and looks to get one step closer to a title shot. Also, on the prelims, Kyle Crutchmer (9-1) makes his return to welterweight in a fight against Jaleel Willis (15-4). The fight that should have people tuned in early is the Middleweight fight between Pat Downey (2-0) and Christian Echols (2-2). Downey is one of the best prospects in the world at 185 pounds regardless of promotion. Downey was a division 1 All-American wrestler at Iowa State and has a real mean streak about him inside the cage. Having competed against Bo Nickal in wrestling and Gordan Ryan in Jiu-Jitsu competitions, Downey is a tremendous grappler in his own right. Downey is a raw prospect with massive potential.

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