Bellator is primed and ready to put on a show in 2023. The first card occurs on the first weekend of February and will follow up an impressive 5-0 win on New Years Eve over RIZIN. Bellator’s first card is headlined by heavyweight legends, Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianeko. Fedor will be making an emotional walk to the cage as it will be the last time of his career.

1. The Lightweight Grand Prix

In Chicago, we saw the championship fight between Usman Nurmagomedov and Patricky Pitbull which crowned the latest champion Dagestan fighter from the long brotherhood that was brought to fame by Khabib Nurmagomedov. The lightweight division is full of legends and on Friday, March 10th, we will see MMA fan favorite Benson Henderson take on Nurmagomedov in the main event from San Jose, CA. Additional headlines/ things to watch as part of this grand prix is the return of Patricky Pitbull after he had absolutely beat down in November by Nurmagomedov to lose his belt as well as AJ McKee moving up from featherweight to make the full time move to 155 in hopes of concurring a new weight class. I have been unable to locate what the bracket looks like however if we are able to see an AJ McKee vs. Usman Nurmagomedov fight at any time during this run, we will be incredibly spoiled as fans of the sport.

2. The Move To CBS/Paramount

Hunter Vester and myself have spoken about this a ton. Putting Bellator 290 onto CBS/Paramount+ will be huge for the growth of the promotion. Fact of the matter is Showtime is slowly getting less and less popular and when at a bar, unless it is a high profile PPV boxing matchup, you likely won’t be able to get the sport on TVs. On Saturday, February 4th, we won’t be able to make that excuse. Ask your local sports bar to put CBS on the TV and enjoy the fights with your friends and introduce a new group to what is no longer the 2nd best MMA promotion but instead should be looked at as 1a and 1b in whichever order you want to put along with the UFC.

3. Patchy Mix Challenges Raufeon Stots

The last time we saw Bellator throw their own event, we were in Uncasville, CT when Raufeon Stots took on Danny Sabatello and Patchy Mix defeated Magomed Magomedov. These two are set up to fight for the interim title fight and the $1million grand prix finale Bantamweight finale which will ultimately set up a matchup with current champion, Sergio Pettis. We do not have a date set up for this interim title fight but when it happens, we hope to be in attendance. This fight could be MMA fight of the year if they put on performances that are even remotely similar to what we witnessed at Bellator 289. Patchy Mix made quick work of Magomedov and I would love to see a surprise and upset in the championship…. However, Stots is a dog and is an all around strong fighter. He would give anyone in the world at 135 a challenge and unfortunately for Mix, he is going to be the next fighter to be locked in for 25 minutes. I think we see a Stots vs Pettis championship fight down the road to unify the belt.

Check out our podcast below, the 63rd episode is being recorded tonight to discuss the Lightweight Grand Prix, predictions for UFC Fight Night Strickland vs Imavov, and our 2023 goals as a podcast.


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