A day-night doubleheader of MMA comes your way on Saturday. Before the UFC holds another Fight Night inside its own Apex facility in Las Vegas, Scott Coker‘s promotion has a belt to hand out in Ireland.
Three weeks removed from the promotion"s landmark debut on CBS, Bellator MMA heads to Dublin"s 3Arena for its second show of 2023. Bellator 291 (also titled Bellator Dublin) begins Saturday afternoon with the undercard at 11:30 am ET/ 8:30 am PT with the undercard on both the Bellator MMA and Showtime Sports YouTube channels.
Main card action follows at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on the Showtime premium cable network. In total, there are 18 fights on this card. Due to the high number of bouts for Saturday afternoon, any swing bouts held after the Bellator 291 main event will also be streamed on the aforementioned-YouTube channels.
Unification at Welterweight in Bellator 291 Main Event
Highlighting the night"s itinerary is an anticipated showdown at 170 lbs. in the Bellator 291 main event. Unification will be the order of the day when incumbent Bellator MMA Welterweight Champion Yaroslav Amosov (26-0 MMA, 7-0 Bellator) takes on interim titleholder Logan Storley (14-1 MMA, 9-1 Bellator) for the permanent strap.
As with all MMA championship bouts, the Bellator 291 main event will be an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close out the main card.
The Last Meeting
Saturday"s headlining bout will be the second all-time fight between these two combatants. Back in November of 2020, inside the Fightsphere at Mohegan Sun Arena, Amosov bested Storley by split decision after three rounds.
To date, it remains Storley"s one and only career defeat as an MMA fighter. Will Storley, the former Big Ten wrestler at the University of Minnesota, get his revenge this time around?
Bellator 291 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Bellator 291 main event on Saturday, champion Yaroslav Amosov stands as the taller man at 5-foot-11, compared to the 5-foot-9 frame of Logan Storley. In addition. Yaroslav Amosov owns a 3 1/2-inch reach advantage over Logan Storley.
As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have the returning Yaroslav Amosov installed as a -175 favorite, with Logan Storley countering as a + 150 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
An Emotional Return For Yaroslav Amosov in Bellator 291 Main Event
Yaroslav Amosov has yet to lose in his professional MMA career. Most recently, he scored a unanimous decision victory over Douglas Lima (32-11 MMA, 14-7 Bellator), who has since moved up to middleweight, in June of 2021.
Amosov had been booked to fight Michael “Venom" Page (20-2 MMA, 16-2 Bellator) on May 12 for the welterweight championship. However, slightly over two months before fight night, his home country of Ukraine found itself in a civil conflict with Russia.
The champion, whose fight camp is based out of the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, had to put his reign of supremacy at 170 lbs. on hold for the moment to fight for his countrymen. On Friday, the current war between the two nations will have been going on for exactly one year.
Amosov talked about his involvement in the Russia/ Ukraine conflict in his pre-fight media availability, including his emotions about having to fight at a time like this.
“It"s one year since that big war," Amosov began. “For me, it"s big motivation. I understand it"s a very hard year for all Ukrainians, yes, but it took a very long time to start."
The conflict had been stewing for eight years prior to the war itself. Can Amosov bring his countrymen a much-needed victory in the cage?
Logan Storley Wants to Even the Score
In the other corner, Logan Storley has posted a 4-1 record in his last five fights. Currently, he"s on a three-fight winning streak. Last time out, he bested Page by split decision on May 13 in London. Due to the war in Ukraine necessitating a pause in Amosov"s career, Scott Coker ordered an interim welterweight championship between Storley and Page.
“Amosov has a lot going on right now," Storley said at the time. “We"ll see how long that really sits him out. We wish him the best, but I have to take care of MVP first and we"ll see what"s after that."
Storley disposed of Page, and now the score can be settled.
“In fighting, it"s… you have three judges that make the decision if you don"t get the finish," he said of the first fight vs. Amosov. “I thought it was a close fight, back-and-forth. I made a lot of adjustments since then, but I know I"ve improved since that time."
The time for the cage door to close is nearing. Will Storley exact his revenge?
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 291 main event looks to favor Yaroslav Amosov, a decorated Combat Sambo champion, with Logan Storley countering as a former collegiate wrestler for The University of Minnesota. While at Minnesota, Storley took All-American honors in every one of his four years.
Watch For Amosov"s Ground Game Defense
With Logan Storley"s fight game predicated by his wrestling background, Yaroslav Amosov"s ground defense is going to be paramount in the Bellator 291 main event. His 2020 fight against Ed Ruth is a textbook example of this.
During the first round of a scheduled three, Amosov found himself in the clinch with Ruth. Although the latter tried to take him down, Amosov turned defense into offense, landing a takedown of his own thanks to a throw, but he couldn"t keep him down.
Yaroslav Amosov kept Ed Ruth in the clinch later in the round before he punched his way out of it. Subsequently, Amosov pieced Ruth up with lower leg kicks before fighting off another takedown from his opposition.
Ruth scored with shots to the body from the clinch in an effort to try to dump Amosov. While he took Amosov down, he shot right back up and landed some punches after breaking out of the clinch.
As long as Yaroslav Amosov can keep Logan Storley standing up, he can control the pace of the fight effectively. Once he knocks him off of his gameplan, you can consider the script reversed.
Storley Can Dictate The Pace of a Fight With Takedowns
In the other corner, once Logan Storley takes an opponent down, the fight becomes his world and his opponent just lives in it. Joaquin Buckley knows this firsthand.
During round one of their fight, Storley tried to shoot for a takedown, and although Buckley tried his best to avoid getting dumped, Storley trapped him against the cage fence, eventually taking him to the cage mat.
From there, Storley moved to the half guard position in an effort to apply the needed torque for a head-and-arm choke. Despite Buckley"s efforts to return to his feet, Storley kept him down, later taking back mount.
Every chance Buckley had to try to get up, Storley was quick to scuttle the effort. Throughout that first round, the latter had a very intelligent gameplan, and it worked to perfection.
All it takes is just one takedown. If Logan Storley is able to take Yaroslav Amosov down to the cage mat as little as one time, he can turn the Bellator 291 main event into a Greco-Roman wrestling match.
At the core, the Bellator 291 main event will be predicated on the pace of the fight. Whichever of the two fighters is able to make the first big move is likely going to be the fighter to walk out of Ireland as the world champion.
Prediction: Logan Storley by Unanimous Decision.
main image credits: Getty Images