The next round in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix heads to the AllState Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
The quarterfinal fight headlines the Bellator 198 card. Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir makes his Bellator debut against one of the best fighters of all-time, Fedor Emelianenko. This will be Mir’s first fight since 2016 when he headlined UFC Fight Night 85. Mir is currently on a two-fight skid. Emelianenko made his Bellator debut in his last fight, which resulted in a loss to Matt Mitrione by knockout.
The co-main event moves down to the featherweight division, where UFC veteran Sam Sicilia takes on one of the best featherweights on the Bellator roster, Emmanuel Sanchez. Sicilia made his Bellator debut in a decision win over former Bellator bantamweight champ Marcos Galvão. Sanchez has been lingering around the top of the featherweight division for some time and heads into this fight riding a three-fight winning streak, with two of those victories coming over former Bellator champions.
Dillon Danis makes his MMA debut on the main card at a catchweight of 175 pounds against Kyle Walker. Neiman Gracie fights Javier Torres at welterweight. At middleweight, big implications ride on the fight betwee John Salter and Rafael Lovato Jr.
The Bellator 198 preliminary card airs on Bellator.com at 7 p.m. ET. The main card airs live on the Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET.
In the next quarterfinal fight of the heavyweight grand prix, Fedor Emelianenko meets Frank Mir. Do either of these legends still have anything left in the tank? Who wins, and will the winner of this fight become the favorite to win the whole tournament?
Mir is the pick in this fight, but it should be closer than most expect. As Emelianenko has aged, he has started to rely more and more on his knockout right hand. Luckily, he still has a ton of power to flash — it almost helped him beat Matt Mitrione in his Bellator debut.
It’s hard to imagine the Russian finding much against Mir. It has been more than two years since Mir has seen the cage, which might help to advance the notion that Emelianenko has a chance. Nobody knows just what Mir will look like after such a long layoff. However, while Mir isn’t nearly the same fighter he once was in his prime, the former UFC heavyweight champion still has a distinct advantage on the ground. Before his absence from action, Mir was facing much better competition than Emelianenko, who hasn’t looked like the dominant fighter he once was in his own heyday.
Heavyweight is the one division where you can’t count out the older fighters. The big men tend to age very well in this weight class, and it doesn’t hurt that the division lacks depth. Yet, neither of these fighters will likely be a favorite to win a tournament that also features the likes of Ryan Bader and the aforementioned Mitrione.
Following a three-fight skid in the UFC, featherweight competitor Sam Sicilia joined the Bellator roster and won his first fight against Marcos Galvão, the promotion’s former bantamweight champion. Now, Sicilia draws Emmanuel Sanchez, who owns a 16-3 overall record and an 8-2 mark inside the Bellator cage. If Sicilia wins this fight, does he punch his ticket to a Bellator title bid?
It’s funny how things turn around for fighters very quickly. Sicilia didn’t look good on his way out of the UFC, but he has now seemingly found his rhythm in the Bellator cage. Galvão is a great fighter in his own right, so that win for Sicilia was huge. If the UFC vet was to beat someone of Sanchez’s caliber, it would be another big feather in his cap. If Sicilia can get through Sanchez, he should secure a shot. After all, he is a UFC veteran and will have beaten two of Bellator’s better lower-weight fighters.
Sicilia is far from guaranteed a victory here, though. The fight really could go either way. Sanchez is one of the more curious fighters on the roster. He’s eked out many decision victories and just knows how to win these fights. He’s on a pretty impressive run of his own that features wins over top fighters like Galvão, Georgi Karakhanyan and former featherweight champion Daniel Straus. Sanchez’s two losses in Bellator came against Pat Curran and Daniel Weichel, and those were both by decision. His loss to Weichel was a close fight, too. Sanchez has earned a ton of experience during his tenure with the promotion, and that experience could come into play against a seasoned vet like Sicilia.
Sanchez should win this fight. Whether it be on the ground or on the feet, he is a good fighter and can maintain a wild pace if need be. The proof can be found in his three split-decision victories in a row against the likes of Henry Corrales, Justin Lawrence and Daniel Pineda. Each of those fighters excels at different aspects in MMA, but Sanchez was able to get by all three men.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
John Salter has been on an absolute roll in his five fights for Bellator. All five victories have ended before the final bell, and four of those wins came in the first round. His opponent, Rafael Lovato Jr., is going to be game, especially if this fight hits the ground. Two of the Brazilian’s three victories in Bellator have been stoppages. Lovato is coming off a decision victory over wrestler Chris Honeycutt. This should be a good fight for the middleweight division. Furthermore, it will shoot the winner up to near the top of the 185-pound heap.
|Main Card (Paramount Network, 9 p.m. ET)|
|HW Tournament Quarterfinal: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir||Mir|
|FW: Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Sam Sicilia||Sanchez|
|MW: John Salter vs. Rafael Lovato Jr.||Salter|
|WW: Neiman Gracie vs. Javier Torres||Gracie|
|Catchweight (175 pounds): Dillon Danis vs. Kyle Walker||Danis|
|Preliminary Card (Bellator.com, 7 p.m. ET)|
|WW: R’Mandel Cameron vs. PJ Cajigas||Cameron|
|WW: Dan Stittgen vs. Mark Stoddard||Stittgen|
|Catchweight (150 pounds): Eric Wisely vs. Morgan Sickinger||Wisley|
|FlyW: Joey Diehl vs. Nate Williams||Williams|
|LW: Tom Shoaff vs. Mike Budnik||Budnik|
|LW: James Bennett vs. Dustin Stusse||Bennett|
|FW: Asef Askar vs. Andrew Johnson||Askar|
|FW: Corey Jackson vs. Adil Benjilany||Jackson|
|WW: Tom Angeloff vs. Sultan Umar||Umar|
|HW: Adam Maciejewski vs. Rob Morrow||Maciejewski|