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Bellator 266 Co-Main: Neiman Gracie vs. Mark Lemminger Preview

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Your MMA weekend closes out this coming Saturday as the UFC and Bellator MMA again do battle for your viewing pleasure.

Our focus on this day is the latter, specifically the Bellator 266 co-main event taking place in San Jose and the SAP Center on Saturday night.

In your Bellator 266 co-main event, it’ll be a nontitle attraction at welterweight as No. 4 contender Neiman Gracie (10-2 MMA, 8-2 Bellator) takes on unranked Mark Lemminger (12-3 MMA, 2-2 Bellator). This bout will be a maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round.

Bellator 266 Co-Main Fighter Comparison

Entering the Bellator 266 co-main this Saturday, Lemminger is the taller man, standing six-foot-one, with Gracie standing six feet even.

What Gracie lacks in height, he makes up for in reach, as he owns a four-inch advantage (74 inches to 70 inches) over Lemminger in that category going into Bellator 266.

Neiman Gracie looks to right the ship at Bellator 266

Gracie enters the Bellator 266 co-main event having gone 3-2 in his last five bouts. Most recently, he dropped a unanimous decision after three rounds at the hands of Jason Jackson at Bellator 255 on April 2. For Gracie, this contest is paramount toward getting back on track to further consistency.

Two years back, he lost via unanimous decision at the hands of Rory MacDonald in the Bellator MMA Welterweight Grand Prix.

Since then, Gracie has been batting .500 in his most recent fights, including the win against Jackson this past spring.

A key storyline heading into the Bellator 266 co-main event will be whether or not Gracie has done enough in training camp leading up to this fight to turn it around. If he hasn’t, a loss here will be detrimental in his efforts to try and stay in contention for the championship at 170 lbs.

Mark Lemminger focused on big picture after Bellator 266

In the other corner, Lemminger has posted a record of 3-2 in his last five bouts. He reigned victorious last time out against DeMarques Jackson at Bellator 260 in June, but he’s got bigger goals in mind, the Bellator MMA Welterweight Championship.

But he’s got to take it one step at a time, starting with this upcoming match, as he explained to The Daily Jefferson County Union.

“It’s a pretty big one for me,” Lemminger told the paper. “I started out and I just wanted to do it. I won my first amateur fight. Then, I won the next one. So, then I thought, OK, we’ll win an amateur belt. A few fights later, I ended up doing that.”

Upon turning pro, Bellator came calling in July of last year.

“Now that I’m with Bellator, I’ve got a shot at making the top ten,” Lemminger continued. “As I progress with the sport, my goals are progressing. I want to beat this guy, take his spot, then get a chance to fight for a belt.”

Can Lemminger take the next step on Saturday? Only time will tell.

Analysis, film study, and prediction

Stylistically, the Bellator 266 co-main event looks to favor Gracie. A second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with Lemminger countering with wrestling and combat grappling.

Thus, it’s going to be a very safe bet that it’s going to be a fight contested on the ground this Saturday.

Watch Gracie’s ground game

Looking at the video of Gracie’s last bout against Jon Fitch, he was able to trap Fitch’s left leg, arching it back to force an inverted heel hook submission on his opponent in the latter’s retirement fight.

If Gracie is able to dump Lemminger even once, it could be all he needs to end things in the Bellator 266 co-main event.

Don’t count out Lemminger

In the other corner, Lemminger could provide Gracie with his toughest test yet. He’s been known to end the fight in a hurry, just as he did in his second professional appearance for Chosen Few Fighting Championships versus Cole Wilken.

That night, Lemminger wasted little time to secure the victory, putting Wilken against the cage, dumping him, and transitioning to side control while landing punches to soften him up. After Wilken got back to his feet, Lemminger scored another vicious takedown and locked in the rear-naked choke right away.

If Lemminger is on-point, this could be game, set, match in a hurry in the Bellator 266 co-main event.

Final thoughts

As previously mentioned, the Bellator 266 co-main event could very well be a grappler’s treat on Saturday night, so don’t miss it. Just to be on the safe side, make that fridge run early.

Prediction: Neiman Gracie by First-Round Submission.


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