FIGHTS TO MAKE NEXT: Bellator 209 Edition

By Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

Bellator 209

Bellator 209 Bellator Main Card Fights to Make

Patricio Pitbull def. Emmanuel Sanchez

Patricio Pitbull sits atop the mountain when it comes to the Bellator featherweight division. He has claimed that he is the greatest in Bellator history and he also thinks he could be the greatest of all time. He has been making some ridiculous comparisons in an attempt to compare his own legacy to that of Jose Aldo lately and has made it clear that he would like to test himself against his fellow Brazilian to determine who the greatest featherweight truly is. We aren’t here to argue about the points of Pitbull’s argument, but I will say that I’m not sure that a win over Aldo at this point, as good as he still may be, would define anyone as the greatest featherweight of all time. Aldo was considered the top guy for years because he consistently beat the number two guy. Pitbull is great but in this writer’s opinion he still has a way to go before he can considered himself to be “greater” than Aldo.

Now with all of that being said my actual point is that I don’t expect Pitbull to get the fight that he so clearly wants. He wants Bellator to trade for Aldo but is it really in the best interest of Bellator to trade somebody for Aldo when it really only seems to be Pitbull that is calling for it? He suggested a trade involving his brother for Aldo but until it happens, I think Aldo is safe in the UFC, though he does seem like a potential trade candidate but that’s a statement for a different article.

The next opponent for Pitbull can be found on the current Bellator roster, he is an undefeated prospect, with a 12-0 record and an abundance of confidence. A. J. McKee is the son of Antonio McKee, he has the record for most wins in a row in Bellator, and he could be the heir to the featherweight throne.

Fight to make next: Patricio Pitbull vs. A.J. McKee for Bellator Featherweight Championship

Emmanuel Sanchez has won 9 of 12 bouts in Bellator and certainly did enough to earn his title shot at Bellator 209. But he could not get past Bellator’s featherweight king and for that reason he is now back to the drawing board. He has his moments in round one, but it was pretty much all downhill from there and by the later rounds Pitbull was in near complete control of the fight on the feet and on the mat. Sanchez will remain a highly ranked fighter in the division though and will likely get another top ranked fighter in his next outing.

Fight to make next: Emmanuel Sanchez vs. John Teixeira

Ryan Couture def. Haim Gozali

This was actually Ryan Couture vs. Haim Gozali II and it went down pretty much exactly like the first. Ryan Couture is a grinder but not much else can be said really. You know what he is going to do and if you can’t stop it, he is probably going to beat you. Couture used his boxing and his wrestling to control most of the fight and left little doubt about who the better man was. Assuming Bellator doesn’t feel the need to give us a third helping of Couture/Gozali I think Couture should move forward in the welterweight division.

Fight to make next: Ryan Couture vs. A.J. Matthews

Even in defeat Gozali managed to accomplish a goal that will probably mean more to him than even a victory would have. By competing in the co-main event of Bellator 209 Gozali became the first father to ever compete on the same card as his son. Aviv Gozali competed on the undercard and picked up a victory via first round armbar.

With Bellator 209 now in the past the future is not so clear for the elder Gozali. He is now 45 years old and 2-3 in the Bellator cage. He has lost two straight fights and though he has a good story he did not look particularly good against Couture. If he fights anybody notable perhaps it could be Dillon Danis, or Galore Bofando but more likely I think he will be matched up with an obscure name and hopefully he can pick up a win before calling it a career.

Fight to make next: Haim Gozali vs.???

Vadim Nemkov def. Phil Davis

Vadim Nemkov picked up the biggest win of his career in Israel when he defeated former champion Phil Davis. Nemkov is now 3-0 in the Bellator cage and has now defeated two former division champions in a row, the other being Liam McGeary. He destroyed McGeary with low kicks, and though he wasn’t quite as effective against Davis he was still good and won the fight on two of three judges score cards.

It seems difficult to match him up with anybody at this point that isn’t the light heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader but that might not be as easy as it sounds. Bader is scheduled to face Fedor Emelianenko for the Bellator Heavyweight Championship which means that Nemkov could be waiting on the sidelines for a while if he does indeed compete for the title in his next bout.

While I do think that waiting is a possibility it’s also possible that he could find some value in competing in another bout beforehand. He is just 10-2 in his MMA career and would have quite an experience disadvantage against Bader. Though this obviously hasn’t affected him much in the past. Assuming he does choose to compete again perhaps a fight with Linton Vassell could make some sense. Vassell has been losing lately but he is a solid veteran and could serve as a good test for Nemkov before the faces the ultimate test that is Ryan Bader.

Fight to make next: Vadim Nemkov vs. Linton Vassell, or Ryan Bader for Bellator light heavyweight championship

Phil Davis is in a bit of a tight spot. He is now 2-2 in his last 4 and despite being a former champion he has the unfortunate distinction of being 0-2 against the current champion Ryan Bader and now 0-1 against the likely top contender, Vadim Nemkov.

What is really unfortunate about the entire situation is that Davis is 0-3 against the two men mentioned above but all 3 bouts have ended via split decision. He appeared a bit sluggish against Nemkov but it’s always hard to say if that’s the fault of the fighter or the results of the effective game plan of the opponent but with that being said it leads us back to why he is in a tight spot. He would likely need to go on quite a run to earn another title shot especially as long as Bader is champion and the question is whether or not he is still capable of doing such a thing.

Rafael Cavalcante has been listed on the Bellator roster for quite some time but has not yet debuted in the cage. He is a guy that has competed in the big leagues for years and should serve as a good test for Davis and it will give him a chance to show what he has left in the tank and if that run is possible.

Fight to make next: Phil Davis vs. Rafael Cavalcante

Olga Rubin def. Cindy Dandois

I watched this entire card and yet somehow, I didn’t see this fight. I am not very familiar with Olga Rubin but from looking at her record (5-0) you will see that she is young, and that Cindy Dandois represents the biggest win of her career to date. Her division is now very thick, so it seems possible that despite her relative inexperience she could be only a fight or two away from earning a title shot. But first she will near to earn another victory or two over established vets in the division and Arlene Blencowe is a solid choice for now.

Fight to make next: Olga Rubin vs. Arlene Blencowe

Cindy Dandois is a well-traveled fighter who has competed for the UFC, Rizin FF, Invicta FC, and now Bellator MMA. She wasn’t able to get the job done against Olga Rubin in her Bellator debut though and now finds herself towards the back of the line in the division. Of course, as stated above the division is not very deep to anything is possible. If she can string together a few wins she could become a player.

Fight to make next: Cindy Dandois vs. Talita Nogueira

Adam Keresh def. Kirill Sidelnikov

Adam Keresh had a 1-0 record coming into his fight with Kirill Sidelnikov and afterwards he remained undefeated. Keresh caught the Russian directly on the chin with a high kick and quickly finished him off with punches in the first round. Its hard to say what is next for a guy that was likely expected to lose a fight and has such little experience overall, but it would seem that things are on the up for the Israeli born Keresh. Despite the big win though I can’t see a reason to throw him to the wolves.

Fight to make next: Adam Keresh vs. Steve Mowry


Kirill Sidelnikov lost a fight against a guy with exactly one pro fight and that leaves him on a two-fight losing streak. He has had an interesting career that has been filled with bloody fights and long periods of inactivity, but he is now in a spot where he is at a risk of becoming totally irrelevant in the division. He should get a chance to turn things around, but it cannot be stressed enough that he really needs a victory.

Fight to make next: Kirill Sidelnikov vs. Everett Cummings

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