Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov (No Contest)
Matt Mitrione has mostly found success since his Bellator move from the UFC, but Friday night was not a high moment. Mitrione landed a devastating groin strike on his opponent just fifteen seconds into their main event bout that rendered Kharitonov unable to continue. It was a disappointing outcome to what would have likely been an exciting fight between two heavyweight strikers, but it wasn’t to be… At least not then. Post-fight, Matt Mitrione issued an apology and also stated that he would like to see the fight rescheduled. Both guys are in about the same place when it comes to a hypothetical division ranking, and with Cheick Kongo having likely earned the next Heavyweight Title shot, I don’t see why this fight shouldn’t be rebooked so that a winner can be determined.
Fight to make next: Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov 2
Logan Storley def. Ion Pascu (Unanimous Decision)
Logan Storley is quite possibly one of the better welterweight prospects in MMA right now. Ion Pascu was really the first big test of his career and he passed it with flying colors. Storley is a former collegiate wrestler and that was obvious during his latest fight. Storley took Pascu down at will and controlled him on the ground in route to a seemingly effortless decision win. The performance was so good in fact that it led to Pascu briefly losing his temper post fight before eventually regaining his composer. Going forward, with several of Bellator’s top welterweights still tied down with the tournament, Storley can continue facing lesser opponents before eventually taking a crack at the top of the division.
For that reason, I like Walter Gahadza for his next fight. Gahadza is actually the more experienced of the two, but it’s the type of fight that Storley needs to win if he wants to continue with his progress of the Bellator ladder.
Fight to make next: Logan Storley vs. Walter Gahadza
Ion Pascu is now 0-3 in Bellator with his latest loss and it’s possible that a guy with a record like that will be shown the door. But Bellator doesn’t always follow the same sort of logic as the UFC and fighters often seem to stick around in a sort of “enhancement talent” sort of role. Pascu seems like the type of guy that is a candidate for this as he is a solid test for young fighters.
Fight to make next: Ion Pascu vs. Kent Kauppinen
Eduardo Dantas def. Toby Misech (Unanimous Decision)
Eduardo Dantas has had a quite the roller coaster of a career so far in Bellator. He is a former multiple time Bantamweight champion, but his first reign was interrupted by a KO loss outside of Bellator to the then-unknown Tyson Nam. He would lose his belt, only to regain it later, and he would hold the belt until he lost it to current champion Darrion Caldwell back in 2017. Following the loss of his title, he suffered a TKO loss to Michael McDonald due to a broken leg. That injury kept him on the shelf for nearly a year, but his return against Toby Misech showed that he still has something left in the tank. The bantamweight division is not very deep, but with Caldwell rumored to be re-matching Kyoji Horiguchi, it’s unlikely that Dantas will receive another title shot anytime soon.
Juan Archuleta is new to the division, having previously competed as a featherweight, he picked up a nice win in his Bellator bantamweight debut just last month. Perhaps a fight between Dantas and Archuleta could serve as a title eliminator bout.
Fight to make next: Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta
From what I could find Toby Misech is not listed on the official Bellator roster, but his performance should change that. He managed to hang with Dantas for three rounds but until he is officially on the roster, I won’t book him.
Jonathan Douma def. Mike Kimbel (Submission/Triangle Choke)
Jonathan Douma was likely expected to lose to Mike Kimbel, but he survived a ferocious slam and sunk in a fight ending triangle choke that threw a wrench into everybody’s plan. Douma is new to his pro career and will likely be matched up with fighters who have similar experience going forward. Bellator is different from the UFC in the sense that they often sign local fighters when visiting cities, and I would imagine that Douma is matched up with guys like that until he gains more experience.
Fight to make next: Someone with similar experience.
Mike Kimbel received quite a bit of hype coming into this fight, which had to only add to the pressure experienced by the three-fight veteran. He had his moments and executed an impressive slam on his opponent in an attempt to escape a triangle, but instead, his opponent survived the slam and eventually cinched in the triangle. Much like Douma, he should be booked up with newcomers until he gains experience.
Austin Vanderford def. Cody Jones (Submission/Arm-Triangle)
Austin Vanderford was a contestant on the Dana White Tuesday Night contender series but was surprisingly passed up despite a solid performance. His performance Friday night will lead some to believe that the UFC made a mistake. Vanderford looked great in his Bellator debut and improved his overall record to 7-0. Bellator seems to be pretty good at giving young fighters a chance to develop, so I imagine they won’t be throwing Vanderford to the wolves for his next bout. After his recent release from the UFC, Sabah Homasi is listed on the Bellator roster. He is a guy with experience fighting on the major stage and he seems like a logical next step in Vanderford’s progression.
Fight to make next: Austin Vanderford vs. Sabah Homasi
Cody Jones is not listed on the official Bellator roster. He had a decent enough performance that it is possible that he could be brought back but with Bellator, it is always hard to say.