Bellator 276 provided an opportunity for fighters to make a statement and get back into title contention. It was also a showcase for their homegrown fighters, who they have high hopes for going forward.
The prelims saw Diana Avsaragova and Romero Cotton continue their unbeaten streak in the promotion. 'Pantera' improved to 5-0 after a unanimous decision win over Kyra Batara, while Cotton defeated Freddy Sandoval by first-round TKO. American Top Team standouts, Cody Law and Roman Faraldo, also proved they are ready for a tougher test.
The main card featured a title eliminator bout between top-ranked featherweights; Ádám Borics and Mads Burnell. The fight went the distance and ended with Borics earning a unanimous decision win. He extended his winning streak to 4-straight wins and improved his record to 18-1.
The event set the stage for many interesting matchups that could serve as headliners in the coming months. This list will look at five fights to book after Bellator 276.
#5. Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. No.8-ranked Bellator lightweight Myles Jury
Gadzhi Rabadanov picked up another impressive win inside the Bellator cage this past weekend. He kicked off the main card by welcoming Jay-Jay Wilson to the lightweight division.
It was a back-and-forth bout with each fighter having their moments. But it was Rabadanov who earned the unanimous decision win in the end. He got the upper-hand over a creative striker like Wilson and handed him the first loss of his career. This win should get him a top-10 ranked lightweight next and Myles Jury would be the ideal opponent. Jury is currently the No.8-ranked lightweight and is coming off a loss to No.1-ranked Sidney Outlaw.
Rabadanov vs. 'Fury' would be a win-win for both. For Jury, he could position himself nicely and move into the top five. Khabib Nurmagomedov's protégé, on the other hand, could solidify himself as a top 10 lightweight in the promotion.
#4. John Salter vs. former Bellator title challenger Austin Vanderford
Bellator 276 may have been a great night for some of the promotion's homegrown fighters, but it wasn't a great night for John Salter. He was defeated by Johnny Eblen via unanimous decision with each judge scoring the bout 30-27. It was his second-straight loss as he looked to rebound from a loss to reigning middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi.
Based on how the division is shaping up, Salter vs. Austin Vanderford would be the logical fight to book next. Both recently lost to the current champion and in Salter's case, he was the No.1-ranked middleweight before the event.
Hypothetically, the winner could realistically earn another title shot as the division features many of the promotion's young prospects. As a result, they might lean towards giving somebody like Salter another shot rather than younger contenders in the top 10 rankings.
#3. Johnny Eblen vs. Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi
Johnny Eblen made a strong case for why he deserves the next title shot against middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi. He looked dominant against Salter and then took advantage of his post-fight interview to call out 'The Dreamcatcher.'
'The Human Cheat Code' believes he's ready to dethrone Mousasi and takeover the division. At the Bellator 276 post-fight interview, he said:
"I think I match up well with Mousasi. I think I’m just a younger version of him pretty much. I expect to do better than him, honestly, in my career. He said he only has two fights left in his career and then he’s dipping. I want to be one of those fights, and I want to be sure of it. I don’t want anything weird to happen.”
It'll be interesting to see whether the promotion awards Eblen the next title shot or go in another direction with Mousasi. He was very impressive and remains unbeaten with an MMA record of 11-0.
#2. Former Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis vs. Corey Anderson
Former Bellator light heavyweight Phil Davis picked up another dominant win this past weekend. He used his wrestling to dictate the pace of the fight and earned a unanimous decision over former title challenger Julius Anglickas.
'Mr. Wonderful' has been a mainstay in the top five of the light heavyweight division. Despite two losses to champion Vadim Nemkov, Davis could still earn a title shot because he defeated the other top contenders. He has wins over Lyoto Machida, Karl Albrektsson, Yoel Romero, and Anglickas, who are all ranked in the top 10.
Corey Anderson would be an intriguing opponent for Davis. He's scheduled to fight Nemkov for the light heavyweight championship in the finals of the Grand Prix next month. If he wins the title, 'Mr. Wonderful' could be the first challenge. However, if he loses, a bout between the two could be a suitable title-eliminator.
#1. Ádám Borics vs. former Bellator two-division champion Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire
Bellator 276 was capped off with a thrilling featherweight main event between Ádám Borics and Mads Burnell. Both were ranked No.2 ahead of their bout and a future title shot was at stake for the winner. Borics earned the win and as a result, could be the next challenger for the featherweight championship.
It was officially announced that a rematch between champion A.J. McKee and Patricio 'Pitbull' Freire will take place next month. If Freire regains the title from 'The Mercenary', the promotion may lean towards booking a trilogy instead. But if McKee wins, there's a strong possibility that he'll make a permanent move to lightweight.
With that in mind, 'The Kid' vs. 'Pitbull', whether it's for a vacant title or title eliminator, would be logical. Borics is riding a 4-fight win streak and his most recent win improved his record to 18-1. His lone career loss came against former champion Darrion Caldwell in 2020, but he has significantly improved since then.