Bellator made their 2021 debut with Bellator 255 on Friday night with twelve intriguing matchups. The five-fight main card was the first in promotion history to be featured on Showtime. With the historic event in the past, here are our speculations on what could be next for the Bellator 255 winners.
Matchmaking for Bellator 255 Winners
Patricio Pitbull entered the octagon on Friday night with his Bellator featherweight championship on the line against Emmanuel Sanchez. These fighters had previously fought back at Bellator 209 where Pitbull won by unanimous decision. Three wins later and they found each other fighting again, this time in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix semi-finals.
Pitbull was announced earlier in the week to be the #1 pound-for-pound fighter on the Bellator roster. He showed why with his first-round submission win on Friday night (Guillotine Choke 3:35 R1). The Brazilian retained his featherweight championship and became the first person to finish Sanchez throughout his 25-fight MMA career.
This fight is rather easy to play matchmaker, as Pitbull’s win automatically advances him to the Featherweight Grand Prix Finals. He will be taking on the undefeated A.J. McKee Jr (17-0) with the featherweight championship and $1 million on the line. This fight will be a matchup made in heaven, as the #1 P4P takes on the biggest prospect Bellator has to offer.
Jason Jackson has never been the type of fighter to give up. He stayed true to that on Friday night with an impressive unanimous decision win over Neiman Gracie. The “Ass-Kicking Machine” fought through several tough submission attempts and a freak accident that left his eyelid cut open by the octagon cage. Jackson now finds himself on a four-fight win streak as he waits to find out who he will fight next.
In the new Bellator rankings, Jackson was announced as the sixth-best fighter in the welterweight division. His win against the previously #3 ranked Gracie allows him to continue his journey to a title shot. Despite his post-fight callout to fight the champion Douglas Lima, he has one more fighter to beat before he gets a chance at Bellator gold.
Yaroslav Amosov seems to be the best option after being ranked the #2 welterweight and previously winning his last fight at Bellator 252. This fight will offer the opportunity for the two best contenders to fight for a title shot while the champion fights #1 contender Michael “Venom” Page. Another option for Jackson would be to fight Page himself, but that could jeopardize the integrity of Bellator’s new rankings system.
Tyrell Fortune re-introduced Jack May to Bellator as he finished the 39-year-old fighter in the first round. Fortune used his impressive combination of wrestling and power to get the win by TKO (Ground and Pound 3:16 R1). The former Olympian now finds himself the #6 ranked Bellator heavyweight.
Valentin Moldavsky is the fight to make after being ranked the #3 ranked heavyweight and winning his only fight of 2020. This fight will offer the opportunity for two contenders to make the next big step towards a shot at Bellator gold. To make it easier, Fortune used his post-fight interview to request his next opponent be Moldavsky.
Usman Nurmagomedov continued his undefeated MMA career with a unanimous decision win in his Bellator debut against Mike Hamel. Nurmagomedov put on a spectacular performance by using his well-rounded fight style that has lead to his 12-0 record. Khabib’s cousin now finds himself ready to face a ranked opponent in his journey to become the Bellator lightweight champion.
Bellator’s inaugural rankings left Nurmagomedov out as he had yet to make his debut. If he is not ranked in the second edition, then the fight to make is Georgi Karakhanyan. Karakhanyan is a tough veteran MMA fighter with 42 fights under his belt. This fight offers Nurmagomedov the chance to enter the rankings by beating the #10 ranked lightweight. On the other hand, Karakhanyan gets the chance to build off his last win at Bellator 251 and get back on track to a future title shot.
Kana Watanabe was on the good side of a controversial decision that could have gone either way. Watanabe continued her undefeated pro career as she became the first of five Bellator 255 winners. She now finds herself one step closer to a title shot after beating the #4 ranked women’s flyweight Alejandra Lara. With few contenders available in the division, Watanabe may just find herself fighting for the title sooner rather than later.
Denise Kielholtz is the fight to make after being ranked #3 and winning both of her fights in 2020. This fight will offer the rankings system to be used correctly with the #3 ranked flyweight fighting the #4. The winner of this fight will set the winner up for a title eliminator fight towards the end of 2021.
What are your thoughts on what could be next for the Bellator 255 winners? Let us know in the comments below.
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