On November 12, 2022, Bellator MMA will return with Bellator 271 live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. In the main event of the evening, Cris Cyborg (24-2) will face Sinead Kavanagh (7-4) for the Bellator Featherweight Championship. Before we get to the main event of the evening, six preliminary bouts will open the card.
We will take a closer look at four of these fighters and why you should keep an eye on them.
Mahmoud Sebie is an accomplished wrestler. He represented his native Egypt and competed in the men’s Greco-Roman 75kg event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. After falling short of an Olympic medal, Sebie set his sights on 2020 until a Facebook video changed everything. In 2018, Sebie spoke out about corruption within the Egyptian wrestling federation and said he would no longer compete as a representative of Egypt. He moved to 2018 with hopes of representing Team USA, but when the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the 2020 Summer Games, Sebie chose to retire from the sport.
In January 2021, Sebie made his MMA debut and XMMA 1 in West Palm Beach and finished his opponent in under two minutes via TKO. Sebie returned to the cage for iKON Fighting Federation on June 11, 2021, and secured his second victory, this time just 1:09 into the first round. Impressively, seven days later, Sebie fought at the inaugural Gamebred Fighting Championship event and secured another first-round finish. Officially 2-0 (the fight at Gamebred FC 1 was a custom rules bout) in the cage, Sebie makes his Bellator debut against fellow 2-0 fighter Ethan Hughes. Despite his wrestling acumen, Sebie has finished all of his opponents by KO/TKO. The "Prince of Egypt" has impressive power making him a threat on multiple levels. Competing in Bellator will bring a significant increase in competition, but after competing on the world’s biggest stage in 2016, I suspect he will feel comfortable and rise to the occasion.
After starting her pro MMA career with three straight victories, two by stoppage, the hype train was slightly delayed at Bellator 259 when Valerie Loureda was defeated by Hannah Guy (3-1) via unanimous decision. As a result, Loureda finds herself demoted to the prelims when she faces Taylor Turner (5-7) in Hollywood, FL. Loureda looked fantastic on her feet during the fight. Using her side-to-side movement, she dropped Guy with a big left hand. Guy recovered and used her grappling to control Loureda on the ground and against the cage. On the feet, Loureda was landing, but Guy’s grappling exposed a significant weakness in Valerie’s game. Not only that, but Loureda seemed to abandon her game plan altogether, throwing a spinning back fists and flashy manoeuvres that opened her up to takedowns. Loureda, for the first time, showed immaturity in the cage.
While it’s always unfortunate to see a young up-and-comer lose by moving away from their strengths mid-fight, it is also a valuable learning experience. Loureda has displayed excellent power and boxing, but that only gets you so far in mixed martial arts. The silver lining is that Loureda spent a significant amount of the fight defending against multiple tight armbar attempts. She showed the ability to defend on the ground, and I expect that we will see improvements in her ground game as she progresses in her career. Loureda is young. She is going to make mistakes. The hype may have gotten to her head. The loss at Bellator 259 is essential for her growth as a fighter, and I expect an even better Valerie Loureda at Bellator 271.
Cody Law steps into the Bellator cage for the fifth time against Colton Hamm (4-3) in a Featherweight bout. Law, an NCAA Division II national champion, transitioned to mixed martial arts just months after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. He went 5-0 as an amateur before signing with Bellator and debuting at Bellator 250 on October 29, 2020. Law has competed four times in less than a year and has remained undefeated going into his upcoming bout.
Law has been noticeably more comfortable with each fight. At Bellator 262, Law was immediately letting his hands go. No feeling out process was needed, and it took him only 1:54 to secure the victory, maintaining his undefeated status. This was the first fight where Law felt he was able to display his power. "We knew at any point we could take him down and impose our will on him. I wanted to challenge myself," said Law. Leaning on his wrestling background, Law has had a lot of success but does not want to rely on his wrestling skills. "We know that’s the easy, obvious path to victory. It’s nice to have that, but I want to grow as a mixed martial artist." His dedication to developing his striking showed in his last performance. Law looks to continue that trend when he meets Hamm on Friday night
Roman Faraldo (5-0) returns to the Bellator cage for the first time since April 2021 to face Robert Turquest (11-7) in a Welterweight bout. Faraldo will be making his third appearance with Bellator. He was scheduled to meet John Ramirez in July, but that bout was cancelled late. Now training out of American Top Team, Faraldo has benefited from training with some of the best in the world, including Jorge Masvidal and the UFC’s #1 ranked Lightweight contender Dustin Poirier. Going 6-0 as an amateur, Faraldo turned pro in June 2019 and has yet to taste defeat or even see the third round. Most recently, he faced 6’7" Welterweight Trevor Gudde. Despite the significant difference in height and reach, Faraldo only needed 90 seconds to dispatch his opponent.
Each time he steps in the cage, Faraldo looks to show his evolution but tries not to let the pressure of staying undefeated overwhelm him. "I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t pressure," Said Faraldo. "There is pressure, but pressure makes your diamonds." Faraldo has credited his ability to thrive, particularly in his run with Bellator, to his training at ATT. "I’ve been fortunate enough these last two fights I’ve been with American Top Team." Faraldo showed a lot of promise as he went from amateur to pro. Since his partnership with ATT, he has become more well-rounded and, as a result, more dangerous for every opponent that steps into the cage with him.
The Bellator 271 prelims begin at 7 pm ET on YouTube, followed by the main card exclusively on Showtime at 10 pm ET.
Featured image credits to Embed from Getty Images