Bellator wrapped up another successful event in Dublin, Ireland, this past Friday and now have plenty of possibilities going forward. In the main event, middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi defeated Austin Vanderford by first-round TKO to retain his title. This was his second successful title defense and proved that he should be in the discussion for being the top middleweight in the world.
The co-main event saw Sinead Kavanagh battle through an injury and earn a unanimous decision win over Leah McCourt. It was a big fight for the local market as both are Irish and top-ranked women’s featherweights.
Conor McGregor was also at the event, which was special for the Irish fans. The former two-division UFC champion was on-hand to support his teammates competing at the event. The Irish crowd made for a fun atmosphere, and the venue is one the promotion should return to more often. This list will look at five fights to book after Bellator 275.
#5. Leah McCourt vs. No.10-ranked Bellator featherweight Dayana Silva
Following her loss, Leah McCourt dropped one spot in the Bellator's updated women’s featherweight rankings. It was a tough loss as it was apparent that her opponent, Sinead Kavanagh, was injured for most of the fight. Kavanagh's leg was compromised, and she couldn’t get enough power in her strikes.
Based on what’s already planned in the division, McCourt vs. Dayana Silva seems like a logical matchup to book. Silva debuted in the promotion last year, and the promotion didn’t do her any favors. The Brazilian was matched up with former women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd. She was competitive throughout the fight but lost via split decision. The 31-year-old then fought former title challenger Arlene Blencowe, who defeated her via third-round TKO.
With McCourt and Silva coming off losses, they could benefit from fighting each other. Both could be more motivated as their performances could possibly dictate their future in the promotion.
#4. Sinead Kavanagh vs. Cris Cyborg 2 – Bellator women’s featherweight championship
Sinead Kavanagh showed how resilient she is in her win over McCourt at Bellator 275. After the fight, it was announced that Kavanagh would receive another title shot against Cris Cyborg. This caught many by surprise, especially considering ‘KO’ was Cyborg’s most recent opponent, and the fight didn’t last very long.
During their first encounter last November, Cyborg got the better of Kavanagh and knocked her out following an exchange. The knockout came at 1:32 of the first round, so it was surprising when the rematch was announced. Based on the Irish fighters' reception at the event, the promotion should return to Dublin for the rematch.
The rematch taking place in Dublin would be the best possible scenario because the fans would rally behind ‘KO’. It would be interesting to see how Cyborg performs in that environment, which would make the rematch even more intriguing.
#3. Former Bellator title challenger Austin Vanderford vs. John Salter/Johnny Eblen winner
Austin Vanderford suffered his first career loss when Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi defeated him in the main event. He went into the fight with an unbeaten 11-0 record and looked like he could be competitive against the experienced champion. Based on the trajectory of the division, Vanderford should fight the winner of John Salter vs. Johnny Eblen.
Salter and Eblen will compete on next week’s event, so the timing would work out well. Salter is coming off a loss to Mousasi, while Eblen is looking to remain unbeaten and improve his record to 11-0. ‘The Gentleman’ would match up well with both fighters. He’ll likely make the necessary adjustments after seeing what he did wrong against the champion.
Vanderford vs. Salter would see two former title-challengers battle out to possibly earn a rematch with ‘The Dreamcatcher'. However, a bout against ‘Diamond Hands’ would be equally intriguing because they are teammates at American Top Team.
#2. Jornel Lugo vs. Josh Hill – Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix alternate bout
After another impressive performance at Bellator 275, Jornel Lugo proved that he’s ready for a step-up in competition. He defeated Brian Moore by unanimous decision to improve to 8-0.
‘A1’ is currently the No.9-ranked bantamweight, so it would make sense if he fought No.8-ranked Josh Hill. The highly-anticipated bantamweight Grand Prix is expected to take place in the coming months. Although Hill was announced as one of the alternates, he could be inactive.
Scott Coker has mentioned that he’d like to have all Grand Prix bouts in the same event. Perhaps Hill and Lugo could compete in an alternate bout to ensure both remain active for the tournament duration. It’d also be an excellent showcase for arguably their most talented division and could generate plenty of interest in their event.
#1. Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi vs. Anatoly Tokov
Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi looked great in his title defense against Austin Vanderford. He picked up his second-straight TKO win and showed why he’s one of the top middleweights in the world.
After beating one of the division’s up-and-coming fighters, the promotion should give a more experienced fighter the next title shot. The No.5-ranked Anatoly Tokov would be the logical choice to fight ‘The Dreamcatcher’ next. Based on the number of young prospects in the middleweight division, it’s surprising that he hasn’t received a title shot yet.
Tokov is undefeated since joining the promotion in 2017. He is 30-3 in his MMA career and is riding a 6-fight winning streak. He is another top fighter on FedorTeam, which includes reigning light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov and former interim heavyweight champion Valentin Moldavsky. Mousasi mentioned that he’d like to fight twice more this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how soon he’ll return.