The PFL isn’t the only MMA promotion in action this coming Friday night, as Scott Coker‘s promotion, Bellator MMA, returns to the Showtime premium cable network for the only time in the month of June.
Coverage of Bellator 282 begins on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel with the undercard at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT, followed at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT on Showtime with main card action.
Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship At Stake in Bellator 282 Main Event
Barring any postponements for any reason between now and Friday, Bellator 282 will be a 14-fight MMA card, highlighted by the battle for the Bellator MMA Middleweight Championship in the Bellator 282 main event of the evening.
Incumbent titleholder Gegard Mousasi (49-7-2 MMA, 7-1 Bellator MMA) puts the 185-lb. championship on the line against No. 1 contender Johnny Eblen (11-0 MMA, 7-0 Bellator MMA) to close the evening’s activities in Connecticut on Friday.
As with all MMA championship fights, the Bellator 282 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round.
Bellator 282 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Entering the Bellator 282 main event on Friday evening, challenger Johnny Eblen stands as the taller competitor at 6-foot-3, with champion Gegard Mousasi countering at 6-foot-2.
However, what Gegard Mousasi lacks in height, he makes up for in reach, as he owns a two-inch reach advantage (76 inches to 74 inches) over Johnny Eblen ahead of the title fight this weekend.
Gegard Mousasi On a Mission To Seek and Destroy in Bellator 282 Main Event
Champion Gegard Mousasi comes into this middleweight championship fight in the Bellator 282 main event, his third defense of the title in his second reign as champion, having gone 4-1 in his last five MMA appearances and is currently on a four-fight winning streak.
Most recently, he scored a first-round knockout (ground and pound shots) over Austin Vanderford in the Bellator 275 main event on Feb. 25 in Dublin, Ireland to successfully defend the championship for a second time.
In the aftermath of the fight, Mousasi appeared on the Feb. 28 edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, where his mission statement was spelled out clearly.
“Listen, I’m not talking about the Mousasi of one year ago, I’m not talking about the Mousasi of five years ago,” Mousasi said. “I’m talking about the Mousasi you saw Friday that was 85 seconds. And I’m going to be the best middleweight, and I did it in 85 seconds. What else do they want? From now on, everyone is going to get finished. Everybody.”
Mousasi has five fights to go on his current Bellator deal, beginning with the Bellator 282 main event this Friday night, and the champion doesn’t have plans to go any farther after the contract ends.
“I think if I finish the contract, I do one boxing fight, I don’t know what the point is to go more,” he said. “I’ve done it all. I think five more fights I can win. I’m not going to do more than that.”
Gegard Mousasi has to take his remaining contract one bout at a time, and he faces an undefeated challenger on Friday.
Undefeated Johnny Eblen Puts Streak At Risk in Bellator 282 Main Event
In the other corner, Johnny Eblen has yet to lose in his professional MMA career, defeating John Salter via unanimous decision on March 12 during the Bellator 276 main event.
Counting amateur bouts, Eblen is putting a 14-fight winning streak at risk this Friday evening in the Bellator 282 main event.
Immediately following his victory against Salter, the challenger asked for a title shot against Gegard Mousasi in an interview with USA Today’s MMA Junkie.
“I’m a man who likes to work, so whatever gets me the next fight, I’m down to do it,” Eblen said three and a half months ago. “Obviously, I would love to fight for the title. If that doesn’t happen, so be it. But I am the No. 1 contender now, and the guy hasn’t fought me yet. So let’s do it maybe. If I fight three more times and get a little bit more experience, I’ll probably be more prepared for that fight. But the thing is, I think I’m ready now. I think I match up well with Mousasi. I think I’m just a younger version of him.”
Johnny Eblen asked for a shot at the middleweight championship versus Gegard Mousasi in his next fight.
On Friday night, that next fight comes, as does the championship opportunity against Mousasi in the Bellator 282 main event, but will it be a case of the old adage “Be careful what you wish for?”
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 282 main event on Friday night looks to favor champion Gegard Mousasi, a black belt in judo and onetime kickboxer, with Johnny Eblen having been a former collegiate wrestler at The University of Missouri.
Gegard Mousasi Has Quick Hands
One aspect of Gegard Mousasi’s fight game that’s most evident on videotape is his quickness with his punches, something that was on full display when he fought Rafael Carvalho in May of 2018 during the Bellator 200 main event.
Although the fight was slated to have been a maximum of five rounds, Mousasi made short work of his adversary that night four years ago.
About a minute into the round, Mousasi landed a takedown, but Carvalho was able to fight it off, albeit momentarily, as Mousasi just took him right back down again to grapple with him.
At that point, Mousasi was able to maintain control of the fight, eventually transitioning into the full mount, biding his time and landing some ground and pound shots before finally taking the back mount and scoring with vicious shots to Carvalho’s head.
Carvalho had no answer, leaving the referee no choice but to wave off the contest about three and a half minutes into the opening round.
If Gegard Mousasi is able to score with punches in bunches, the Bellator 282 main event will be a short fight.
Johnny Eblen’s Submissions Could Be Key
In the other corner, look for Johnny Eblen to grapple with Gegard Mousasi to try to get the victory, as was the case in Eblen’s fight vs. Wayman Carter in Shamrock FC 310 in August of 2018.
Right from the beginning of the fight, Eblen was able to transition out of a Thai clinch into a single-leg takedown which caused the cage mat to shake, seizing control of the fight at that very moment.
From there, he was able to use his wrestling to pacify any and all efforts for Carter to get anything going offensively, landing ground and pound shots to soften Carter up for a possible submission, applying top pressure to sink in a guillotine choke, forcing Carter to tap out in under two minutes.
Should Johnny Eblen find himself in a position where he’s able to take Gegard Mousasi down, watch for him to try and shoot for it, because if he’s able to land it, he’ll leave Connecticut as the new champion on Saturday morning.
At the core, the Bellator 282 main event is shaping up to be a very entertaining title fight on Friday night.
It’s a strength vs. strength contest, so may the stronger man win.
Prediction: Gegard Mousasi by First-Round TKO.
Featured image credit to Bellator MMA