Bellator MMA returns to action in Thackerville, Okla., at the WinStar World Casino for Bellator 189 to kick off the month of December.
The main event features the first title defense for Bellator’s 145-pound women’s division champion Julia Budd, who takes on challenger Arlene Blencowe. The two fought previously, with Budd coming out victorious by majority decision. Now, Budd puts her belt on the line after beating Marloes Coenen for the vacant crown.
The co-headliner features one of the few middleweight fights of the night. Chris Honeycutt, who is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, takes on Rafael Lovato Jr. Lovato has remained undefeated through his Bellator and Legacy FC tenures, and he gets his first step up in competition for Bellator.
Also on the main card, Chidi Njokuani takes on Hisaki Kato in a welterweight clash, and Bellator veteran David Rickels meets emerging prospect Adam Piccolotti at a 160-pound catchweight.
The Bellator 189 preliminary card airs on Bellator.com at 7 p.m. ET. The Bellator 189 main card airs live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Julia Budd won the Bellator women’s featherweight title when she destroyed Marloes Coenen in the fourth round of their Bellator 174 fight. Now, Budd makes her first title defense against Arlene Blencowe, who pushed Budd to a majority decision in their first encounter at Bellator 162. Will Blencowe do enough to emerge as the victor in their rematch?
Eh, probably not. Budd has been unstoppable in Bellator. She has absolutely smothered all four of her opponents. While not entertaining, her ground-heavy game plan wins fights. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.
This fight will be no different. In fact, since we’re expanding the length of the fight, it tilts even more in favor of Budd. She has two extra rounds to sap Blencowe of any energy needed to mount a late comeback.
Blencowe has almost assuredly worked in camp on takedown avoidance, but Budd is an absolutely brutal monster when she gets a hold of her opponent. Budd also has some really good experience facing some of the best names to come through the 145-pound division. Her experience is only matched by a very small group of fighters. Budd has been building to become a champion, and she will remain one after this fight.
The middleweight and welterweight divisions will be featured on this main card. In the middleweight fight, Chris Honeycutt meets Rafael Lovato Jr. In the welterweight pairing, Chidi Njokuani fights Hisaki Kato. Which fighter delivers the most impressive performance of the evening?
Njokuani and Kato is the better fight. The chance for a flashy finish is also high in this one. Kato has some of the most impressive knockouts in recent Bellator history in both MMA and the company’s kickboxing run. This is a closer fight, too. Njokuani lost in his last fight against Andrey Koreshkov. He needs a nice bounce-back win in this outing. Njokuani is definitely favored, but Kato’s knack for picking up the upset certainly makes this fight interesting.
Meanwhile, over at middleweight, Honeycutt should easily pick up a victory. Honeycutt’s skill isn’t flashy by any means. He’s a wrestler, pure and simple. That doesn’t win fans over, unfortunately, but he has been stellar for Bellator so far. Honeycutt’s wrestling wins fights. Once he gets an opponent to the ground, all he needs is an opportunity to land some ground-and-pound and it’s pretty much over. Honeycutt lands some heavy fists, probably some of the best in the division, on the ground.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
David Rickels and Adam Piccolotti.
Rickels always gets the nod here as the most fan-friendly fighter perhaps on the entire Bellator roster. He always has an entertaining walkout and he looks for the finish. Rickels just brings it every fight and has the true heart of a warrior.
Piccolotti has slowly been building up to this fight. He was originally slated to face Derek Anderson, another Bellator veteran. Anderson dropped out due to an injury, though, and Piccolotti gets stuck with this stiff test instead. Piccolotti lost his last fight to Goiti Yamauchi, but he has finished three of his five prior opponents by submission.
|Main Card (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET)|
|Women’s FW Championship: Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blencowe||Budd|
|MW: Chris Honeycutt vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.||Honeycutt|
|WW: Chidi Njokuani vs. Hisaki Kato||Njokuani|
|Catchweight (160 pounds): David Rickels vs. Adam Piccolotti||Rickels|
|Preliminary Card (Bellator.com, 7 p.m. ET)|
|MW: Franklin Patterson vs. Andrew Parker||Parker|
|Catchweight: Gaston Bolanos vs. Rick Gutierrez||Gutierrez|
|LW: Alec Williams vs. Mandel Nallo||Nallo|
|BW: Brandon Phillips vs. Jordan Howard||Howard|
|Women’s FlyW: Juliana Velasquez vs. Na Liang||Velasquez|
|FW: Sam Sicilia vs. Marcos Galvão||Sicilia|
|Women’s FW: Alexis Dufresne vs. Amber Leibrock||Dufresne|
|FW: Thomas Lopez vs. Cris Williams||Williams|
|WW: Brian Grinnell vs. Kemmyelle Haley||Haley|
|Women’s Catchweight: Ky Bennett vs. Stephanie Geltmacher||Geltmacher|