5 questions that will be answered at Bellator 281

Michael 'Venom' Page (Left) and Logan Storley (Right) - Photo credit: Lucas Noonan / BellatorMMA
Michael 'Venom' Page (Left) and Logan Storley (Right) - Photo credit: Lucas Noonan / BellatorMMA

After a successful event in Paris, Bellator returns to the OVO Arena in London, England. Despite some bouts falling through, the event still features many notable names and exciting matchups. The promotion has had success in London and will look to continue that on Friday night.

The event is headlined by an interim welterweight championship bout between London’s own Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Logan Storley. Page is one of the promotion’s biggest homegrown stars and will definitely have his home nation fully behind him.

It’ll be a special night for British MMA as Paul Daley will compete in his final MMA fight. This is a fitting sendoff for Daley as he has been one of the United Kingdom’s most exciting fighters.

Also, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will return to the middleweight division when he takes on Fabian Edwards. The promotion don’t have another event until June 24, so they’ll hope the London event is well received by their fanbase. This list will look at five questions that will be answered at Bellator 281.

#5. Will Robert Whiteford’s winning streak continue at Bellator 281?

At 39-years-old, Rob Whiteford’s chances of moving into the top-10 of Bellator’s featherweight division look promising. Whiteford is 1-0 (1) since joining the promotion and is undefeated in his last five bouts. His winning streak began in 2016 following his UFC departure.

‘The Hammer’s unbeaten streak includes impressive wins over Nam Phan, Kane Mousah, and a knockout win over Sam Sicilia. He is coming off a no-contest bout with Andrew Fisher during which he was unable to continue after numerous eye pokes. It was unfortunate for him because he was winning the fight decisively until the stoppage.

Whiteford will be in for a tough test as he takes on former featherweight title challenger Daniel Weichel. ‘Drake’ is looking to bounce back from his unanimous decision loss to Pedro Carvalho. He had his moments throughout the fight, but lost 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards.

#4. Could Denise Kielholtz earn another Bellator women’s title shot?

It’s no secret that Denise Kielholtz is looking to get another shot at the Bellator women’s flyweight championship. Many believed that she should’ve been awarded the decision when she challenged then champion Juliana Velasquez. If she wants to get another title shot, she’ll need an impressive win against Kana Watanabe on Friday night.

Despite having an MMA record of 6-3, ‘Miss Dynamite’ is a dangerous opponent for the top-5 in the division. She is a decorated kickboxing champion and has a black belt in judo. Her impressive judo background makes her more of a threat because she’s not primarily a striker.

During her media day availability, Kielholtz didn’t shy away from sharing her opinion on Watanabe’s recent performance:

“I was not really impressed by the last fight that she fought. But that’s why I know that she comes here to prove herself and to be the best version of herself.” – Denise Kielholtz speaking with the media during media day.

#3. Will Lyoto Machida snap his losing skid at Bellator 281?

Lyoto Machida returns to the middleweight division when he takes on Fabian Edwards at Bellator 281. He hasn’t competed at 185 lbs since his split decision loss to middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi in 2019.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion is in an interesting situation at this stage of his career. He is currently on a three-fight losing skid that dates back to his 2019 loss to Mousasi. But his recent losses came at light heavyweight against former champions Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. He will get an opportunity to put himself back in the title picture as Edwards is the No.4-ranked middleweight.

‘The Dragon’ still has title aspirations and is committed to achieving that goal in the promotion. He has experience on his side and will look to snap his losing skid. ‘The Assassin’ on the other hand, is also looking to get back on track as he has lost back-to-back fights.

#2. Will Paul Daley retire with a win at Bellator 281?

Paul Daley will make the walk to the cage for the final time when he fights Wendell Giacomo at Bellator 281. When the promotion made the London event official, Daley announced that he’d be retiring after his bout.

'Semtex' has had an excellent career in combat sports, both in the cage as an MMA fighter and in the ring as a kickboxer. He earned a reputation for being a knockout artist and showcased his power in every major promotion he’s competed in.

Despite coming up short in his title bouts, Daley has always been exciting to watch and a legend in British MMA. At 39-years-old, he is putting MMA behind him, but hasn’t ruled out boxing fights if it’s a lucrative offer.

'Semtex' will want to end his career on a high note and put on a show for the English fans. He is coming into his final bout following a unanimous decision loss to Jason Jackson, and hence, it would be a nice sendoff if he retires with a win.

#1. Who will become interim Bellator welterweight champion?

Bellator will crown an interim welterweight champion when Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Logan Storley compete in the main event. Page and welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov were originally scheduled to headline the event. However, Amosov withdrew from the event due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

MVP now has an opportunity to win the interim championship in front of his hometown crowd. Depending on how long the champion remains out of action, Page could possibly even defend the interim title should he win. Storley is a suitable opponent as he has a 13-1 MMA record with his lone loss coming against Amosov.

Their respective styles make for an intriguing main event. Page is a dynamic striker whose kickboxing background has led to many highlight-reel knockouts. Meanwhile, Storley has an impressive collegiate wrestling background. This will be a very tactical fight as 'Venom' will look for the knockout, while ‘Storm’ will look for the takedowns.

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Edited by Allan Mathew
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