After back-to-back events overseas, Bellator returns to the United States for an event at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The arena has become a familiar venue for the promotion as they have frequently hosted events there since 2020.
This will be their first event in well over a month, which is surprising considering the momentum they could’ve gained.
The event will be headlined by a title fight as middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi will defend against Johnny Eblen. The division is loaded with many up-and-coming fighters, including Eblen, who will look to take advantage of the opportunity.
The ongoing bantamweight Grand Prix will also be featured at the event. After earning their spot in the tournament, Danny Sabatello and Enrique Barzola will face the toughest test of their respective careers.
Sabatello will take on Leandro Higo, while Barzola will take on Magomed Magomedov. This list will look at five bold predictions for Bellator 282.
#5 Bellator middleweight Anatoly Tokov will extend his winning streak to seven
No. 5 ranked Bellator middleweight Anatoly Tokov is one of the top middleweights in the promotion. After a two-year layoff, Tokov returned this past October and picked up where he left off. He earned a split decision win over Sharaf Davlatmurodov in front of his home crowd.
Since joining the promotion in 2017, he is yet to taste defeat inside the cage. The FedorTeam middleweight is currently riding a 6-fight winning streak that includes a win over former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko.
He is looking to make it 7-straight wins when he fights Muhammad Abdullah on the prelim portion of the event.
Abdullah has a 10-5 MMA record and is coming off a win over Erick Lozano, whose record was 12-19. Based on the difference in the quality of opponents and Abdullah being 36, Tokov is expected to be the betting favorite.
Tokov has a great opportunity as a decisive win could possibly lead to him being awarded a title shot. With Mousasi defending his title against Eblen in the main event, Tokov could challenge the winner.
#4. Cat Zingano will defeat Pam Sorenson and earn a Bellator women’s featherweight title shot
Bellator matchmakers will likely be keeping a close eye on the prelims when Cat Zingano takes on Pam Sorenson. Since joining the promotion, Zingano has been one that many believed could be a tough challenger for Cris Cyborg. The fight is yet to materialize, but now could be the perfect time.
After the promotion missed out on signing Kayla Harrison, Cyborg vs. Zingano seemed like the next best available option. ‘Alpha’ has won back-to-back fights since joining the promotion and a third-straight win could earn her a women’s featherweight title shot.
It’s also understandable why Zingano would want one more bout before accepting a bout with the champion. She hasn’t fought since last April, when she submitted Olivia Parker. So, this upcoming bout with Sorenson could be a tough challenge and tune-up fight at the same time.
#3 No. 8 Ranked Bellator lightweight Alexander Shabliy will defeat Brent Primus and move into the top-5
Alexander Shabliy will take a significant step up in competition when he fights former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus. He is 2-0 since joining the promotion last year and unbeaten in his last six bouts dating back to 2017.
Shabliy has been one to finish fights and could do the same against the No. 2 ranked lightweight. Out of his 21 wins, 10 have come via KO/TKO and 7 have come via submission. Despite his strengths in the standup, he has proved that he could also find success with his grappling.
‘Peresvet’ showcased how well-rounded he is in his most recent win over Bobby King. He took King down repeatedly throughout the fight on his way to earning a unanimous decision win. With a win, Shabliy could set himself up for a title eliminator or title shot against the Freire vs. Outlaw winner.
#2 Danny Sabatello and Magomed Magomedov will advance to Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix semifinals
The final bantamweight Grand Prix quarterfinal bouts will take place at Bellator 282. Danny Sabatello takes on Leandro Higo, while Magomed Magomedov matches up with Enrique Barzola. The bantamweights will look to join Patchy Mix and interim bantamweight champion Raufeon Stots in the semifinals.
The event could see a star-making performance from Sabatello, who has become increasingly popular since his last bout. His personality and post-fight interviews have become a hit on the promotion’s social media, which could benefit him going forward.
‘The Italian Gangster’ has an excellent wrestling background, which could be the answer to Higo’s jiu-jitsu.
Magomedov, on the other hand, will be in for a tough challenge against Barzola. He has elite-level grappling that could match up well with the former TUF Latin America 2 winner. ‘Tiger’ is coming off a loss to Stots, so it will be interesting to see whether he can bounce back against a UFC alum.
#1 Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi will successfully retain against Johnny Eblen
Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi is undoubtedly one of the top 185-pounders in the world. He is a legend of the sport that has fought in multiple weight-classes and, at age 36, hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.
‘The Dreamcatcher’ defends his title against Johnny Eblen in the main event. Although ‘Diamond Hands’ has an unbeaten 11-0 MMA record, he’ll still be considered an underdog. The champion has been a lot more aggressive in his recent bouts as he has back-to-back TKO wins.
Mousasi’s most recent TKO win was against Eblen’s teammate Austin Vanderford, which saw him hand ‘The Gentleman’ his first loss. He will look to do the same against ‘Diamond Hands’ and set his sights on more lucrative bouts in the promotion.
A win over Eblen will make it three successful title defenses and extend ‘The Dreamcatcher’s winning streak to five.