Michael McDonald (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Bellator 191: McDonald vs. Ligier Preview and Predictions

Bellator MMA is staying abroad as it heads to its next event in Newcastle, England, at the Metro Radio Arena. Bellator 191 marks the last of Bellator’s events for 2017.

The main event for this card across the pond takes place in the bantamweight division, where former UFC title challenger Michael McDonald returns against Peter Ligier. McDonald last fought in July 2016 in a loss to John Lineker. Ligier has won four of his last five fights and will look to kick off his Bellator career with a huge upset victory.

The co-headliner takes us to the women’s flyweight division. Another UFC veteran, Valérié Létourneau, takes on [i]The Ultimate Fighter[/i] contestant Kate Jackson. Létourneau is out to bounce back from a three-fight skid and will compete in her first fight in just over a year. Jackson is on a different run. The TUF alum has won her last five fights. The winner of this contest makes a good case as the first title challenger for newly crowned Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.


ROunding out the card, lightweight Lewis Monarch takes on Jeremy Petley and English heavyweight veterans James Thompson and Phil De Fries clash.

The Bellator 191 main card airs at 9 p.m. ET on Spike TV.

UFC veteran Michael McDonald makes his Bellator debut against Peter Ligier. Does Ligier stand a chance in this fight?

Not really.

Ligier has yet to face anybody of McDonald’s caliber in his career. McDonald is a former title challenger in the UFC and for some time looked like the future of the division. McDonald still could possibly emerge as one of the best bantamweights on the planet, but as of right now, it’s just about getting back into the swing of things.

McDonald has been on a roller-coaster ride since he beat Miguel Torres in 2012. He has been in five fights since then, but he has gone a disappointing 2-3. Those losses came against a prime Renan Barão, Urijah Faber and John Lineker. Ligier isn’t exactly in the same league as any of these fighters. McDonald brings that sort of experience to the table, something Ligier just doesn’t have yet.

McDonald is also a very well-rounded fighter. The 26-year-old is highly adept on the ground and can outgrapple just about anyone Bellator can throw at him in the bantamweight division. He has six submission victories in his career. Furthermore, his striking has led to nine knockouts, including the big win over the aforementioned Torres.

McDonald’s biggest knock comes from his long layoffs between fights, primarily due to injury. By the time McDonald steps into the cage, it will have been a year and five months since his last fight. That is an incredibly long layoff for a young fighter. Maybe ring rust can be considered a huge factor in this fight, especially since McDonald is coming off a knockout loss. It isn’t even the physical ability of McDonald that’s the most worrisome, but the mental aspect of the fight game. Will McDonald think and move the same? Sparring in practice is vastly different from the speed of a real fight.

On paper, McDonald should win this fight. He can outgrapple or outstrike Ligier. This is essentially a huge showcase fight for the new Bellator signee.

The pairing of UFC veteran Valérie Létourneau and The Ultimate Fighter 23 alum Kate Jackson is arguably the one fight on this card that could have the most title implications. Who wins, and will that person be next in line for a shot at the Bellator women’s flyweight title?

Létourneau is a solid bet to win this fight. And, yes, she is next in line for a shot at the title. This is essentially a title eliminator. Létourneau wasn’t brought in from the UFC to sit around and not be one of the top faces of the division. If she wins, she gets a shot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boring or exciting fight against Jackson.

Létourneau looked small at bantamweight and overcut to make strawweight. Flyweight should be the perfect fit for the UFC veteran. Létourneau didn’t get the opportunity to fully compete in a flyweight division in the UFC, where her only appearance at 125 pounds resulted in a loss to Joanne Calderwood.

Létourneau has trouble overcoming the big fight. Her last three outings have ended in losses. This includes a loss in her last bout against Viviane Pereira in a fight Létourneau should have won. However, her time at strawweight wasn’t as successful as she would have liked. In addition to the weight cut, maybe age was a factor.

The 34-year-old Létourneau could be on the downswing, but Jackson isn’t Calderwood or Joanna Jędrzejczyk, another fighter who topped Létourneau. Jackson came out on top in her first fight for Bellator against Colleen Schneider. Unfortunately, it came on a TKO due to injury.

Jackson’s one advantage over Létourneau is in how recently she last fought. Much like Michael McDonald, Létourneau is another UFC veteran who hasn’t fought in almost a year. If ring rust catches up to Létourneau, then this could be a favorable fight for Jackson. But, that aside, Létourneau is the more well-rounded fighter.

Whether it be grappling or striking, the edge goes to Létourneau’s corner.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

To the prelims we go: Mohammad Yahya and Ashley Griffiths.

Yahya is an interesting prospect coming out of the Middle East. He has primarily fought there to good success, achieving a 4-1 record. Griffiths, while 4-5, is an interesting veteran opponent for Yahya. It’s going to be a tough test against a more mature veteran than Yahya is accustomed to, but a win makes Yahya an interesting fighter to watch.

Fight Picks

Fight Pick
Main Card
BW: Michael McDonald vs. Peter Ligier McDonald
Women’s FlyW: Valérie Létourneau vs. Kate Jackson Létourneau
HW: James Thompson vs. Phil De Fries De Fries
LW: Jeremy Petley vs. Lewis Monarch Monarch
Preliminary Card
LW: Mohammad Yahya vs. Ashley Griffiths Yahya