A packed weekend in sports is about to head your way, and on Saturday afternoon, it begins with MMA action on a day where not everybody’s fixated on college football or Game 2 of the World Series. Bellator MMA starts off a day-night doubleheader with Bellator 287 from the Allianz Cloud Arena in Milan, Italy, a 15-fight card highlighted by a lightweight showcase in the Bellator 287 main event.
Live coverage of Bellator 287 begins Saturday at 12:30 pm ET/ 9:30 am PT on the Bellator MMA YouTube channel with the undercard from Milan, followed by the main card at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on Showtime.
Lightweight Tussle On-Deck For Bellator 287 Main Event
As previously stated, Bellator 287 is slated to feature 15 fights Saturday afternoon at the present time. The day’s schedule of events is capped by a battle at 155 lbs. between Adam Piccolotti (13-4 MMA, 9-4 Bellator) and Road FC veteran Mansour Barnaoui (19-4 MMA, Bellator promotional debut.)
Saturday’s headliner will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show, as is now the norm in Bellator MMA. Last fall, Bellator president Scott Coker made the decision to have all main events be five rounds in length starting in 2022.
Which of these fighters tops your UFC Pound for Pound list?
Bellator 287 Main Event Fighter Breakdown and Betting Odds
Heading into the Bellator 287 main event on Saturday night, promotional debutante Mansour Barnaoui stands as the taller contestant at six feet even, compared to the 5-foot-11 frame of Adam Piccolotti. Piccolotti owns a 71 1/2-inch reach, with no such information for Barnaoui.
The oddsmakers have Piccolotti installed as a -215 favorite for Saturday’s main event, with Mansour Barnaoui as a +175 underdog. If you plan to place a bet, please wager responsibly.
Adam Piccolotti Ready to Get Back in the Cage After Eight Months Away
Adam Piccolotti enters the Bellator 287 main event having posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights. Last time out, he scored a unanimous decision victory against Georgi Karakhanyan (31-14-1 MMA, 7-9 Bellator) back in February during Bellator 274.
Bellator 287 will mark the first time that Adam Piccolotti will have headlined a card under the Bellator MMA banner. During a recent interview with Jason Cruz, he took stock of Mansour.
“I know as much as anybody else knows,” Piccolotti said. “That’s on the outside, I’ve watched some of his videos, I know what his record looks like, I know his dimensions, all the basics. I just know that he’s going to come out, he’s going to be tough, he’s going to be a hard fight, he’s going to be good everywhere. This is a flippin’ main event in Italy for Bellator MMA, so they’re not going to be putting up guys that don’t know how to do it all.”
The time for talk is about done for Adam Piccolotti. Can he put his words into action and leave Italy with a win on Saturday night?
Mansour Barnaoui Set to Make First Walk to the Cage in Over Three Years
In the other corner, Mansour Barnaoui has posted a record of 5-0 in his last five MMA appearances. Most recently, he submitted Kwon A-Sol (21-12 MMA) in May of 2019 during Road FC 56.
Since then, he hasn’t even been so much as booked to fight an opponent. Taking eight months off between fights is one thing, but having to go close to three and a half years without getting an opponent is another ballgame entirely.
Still, though, Barnaoui remained active in the gym, as he revealed through his translator on a recent episode of the Bowks Talking Bouts podcast.
“It’s true that he never fought for the last three years and a half,” Barnaoui said. “But he’s always training almost every day. It was, as you said, in Dubai (at Team Nogueira Dubai) for a few days. Then he was also in Thailand and in (the) US… waiting (for) this opportunity. So even if he didn’t fight, he never stopped…”
Barnaoui also said that it doesn’t really matter that Adam Piccolotti is his opponent on Saturday and all that matters is the fact that he’s fighting. Although Mansour’s been training consistently for a few years since his last fight, the fact that he hasn’t faced a live opponent since 2019 could be troubling.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 287 main event on Saturday looks to favor Adam Piccolotti, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while Mansour Barnaoui counters with a grappling background. Thus, it’s safe to say that this one could be a ground battle.
Adam Piccolotti: Submission Specialist
One constant in Adam Piccolotti’s MMA career is the fact that he’s been consistently known to score a victory by way of submission, something that showed itself back in September of 2019 against Jake Smith. Heading into that fight, Piccolotti came off of a controversial split decision loss to Benson Henderson the previous April, so he was bound and determined not to let another fight go to the scorecards.
During the second round of a scheduled three, Piccolotti shot for a takedown but was denied by Smith and backed away from another attempt. The men stalked one another, waiting for just the right moment to attack, with Piccolotti landing a few leg kicks on Smith before scoring a takedown and attempting a body-triangle submission.
Smith was able to ward this attempt off, but Piccolotti was able to land ground and pound shots to soften him up. From there, Piccolotti took Smith’s back and it was only a matter of time before he sunk in the rear-naked choke and forced Smith to tap out halfway through the round.
If Piccolotti is able to get Barnaoui on his back in the Bellator 287 main event, this fight is a wrap.
Mansour Barnaoui Can Land the Rear-Naked Choke, Too
In the other corner, please do not discount Mansour Barnaoui’s submission prowess. He can land the rear-naked choke in his own right. Just ask Colin Fletcher, who submitted to one in 2013.
Barnaoui and Fletcher traded kicks with one another in the clinch before the latter took the former down.
It got precarious for Barnaoui, who almost found himself on the receiving end of a knockout until he slowed the fight down and grappled with Fletcher, attempting a body-triangle submission and then landing ground and pound shots from the bottom to soften him up.
At that point, Barnaoui applied the needed torque to secure a deep rear-naked choke, leaving Fletcher no choice but to tap out. If Barnaoui is able to effectively grapple with Piccolotti, the fight is his on Saturday.
Which of these fighters tops your UFC Pound for Pound list?
Although no title is at stake on Saturday night in the Bellator 287 main event, don’t even think about sleeping on this one. Just because it doesn’t have a belt attached to it, it doesn’t mean it won’t be entertaining.
On paper, this looks to be a very good fight. The first fighter to successfully take his adversary down has a good chance to win the contest.
Prediction: Adam Piccolotti by Unanimous Decision.
main image credit: Embed from Getty Images