Bellator remains in Europe on Friday, May 13, but moves from France to England as they host Bellator 281: MVP vs. Storley, live from the SSE Arena in London. The headlining affair is an interim welterweight title scrap between Michael “Venom” Page and Logan Storley. This was originally supposed to be a championship bout between incumbent champion Yaroslav Amosov and MVP, but Amosov was pulled away by the war in Ukraine. Now, with an interim title on the line, Page will have to take on a talented American wrestler in Storley. For his part, Storley has won his last two contests after losing a split decision, and his undefeated record, to the aforementioned Amosov.
In the co-main event, a legend makes the walk to the cage for what could be the final time as Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida takes on Fabian Edwards. Things have not gone the Brazilian legend’s way recently, as he has lost three straight fights, though all have come via decision. Edwards, too, has hit rocky waters, losing back-to-back fights after beginning his career 9-0. Both of these talented and well-rounded fighters will look to right the ship in their co-headlining affair.
The Bellator 281 preliminary card airs live on YouTube at 1 p.m. ET with the main card following on Showtime at 4 p.m. Let’s take a look at the preview and predictions.
The main event was slated to be a welterweight title showdown between Yaroslav Amosov and Michael “Venom” Page, but, instead, it is an interim title fight between Page and Logan Storley; does MVP make it seven straight wins?
The style matchup will prove to be tricky waters for Michael “Venom” Page to navigate. Page does his best work at range, using his unorthodox striking to stifle and confuse his opponents. He is often able to use his footwork to halt any forward pressure his opponent brings, darting in and out as he lands precision strikes until connecting with one devastating blow.
He won’t be able to do that against Logan Storley. Storley is a four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler who has shown that his mixed martial arts wrestling is at the top of the food chain. He nullified the grappling of Neiman Gracie in his last fight, and, while facing Page is a different task entirely, Storley will lean heavily on his offensive wrestling to get this fight where he wants it – on the canvas with Page flat on his back.
The only way that MVP will be able to stop the forward wrestling pressure of Storley is if he lands a Masvidal-like flying knee as Storley shoots a naked takedown from way too far away. Unfortunately for Page, Storley is smarter than that, and he will take his time. After getting a slight read on the timing of Page, Storley will capitalize on a high-kick attempt by MVP, catch it, and take the fight to the mat. After opening up with some ground-and-pound in the first, Storley will be the far fresher fighter in the second and third rounds, and he will be easily able to take down MVP leading to a late stoppage due to cumulative strikes.
Lyoto Machida has lost three consecutive fights; can the 43-year-old pick up a win against Fabian Edwards?
No. Lyoto Machida is a far cry from the fighter who landed a jump-in front kick to the face of Randy Couture. He has lost more than a step and doesn’t have the same surgeon-like precision on his strikes, which allowed him to claim the UFC light heavyweight title. He takes on Fabian Edwards, who has also struggled as of late, dropping two consecutive bouts. Edwards has been out of action for over a year since his loss to Austin Vanderford and will be well-prepared to face a veteran like Machida. Because, at this point in his career, Machida has lost some of what made him such a special fighter, Edwards will be able to capitalize on a less-than-crisp combination from Machida and rock the Brazilian early. That will make Machida gun-shy the remainder of the contest, and Edwards will be able to pick him apart in kickboxing and boxing range for the duration of the fight, en route to a lopsided decision victory.
In her last fight, Kana Watanabe tasted defeat for the first time as a professional; how well does she rebound against Denise Kielholtz?
Yes, although this is far from a “get well” fight for Watanabe coming on the heels of her first loss. Kielholtz challenged for the flyweight title in her last bout, ending up on the wrong end of a split-decision against Juliana Velasquez. Prior to that, Kielholtz won four straight fights with two submission victories and two TKO wins. Expect Watanabe to avoid grappling with Kielholtz and, instead, keep the fight standing – landing the cleaner strikes throughout – so that by the end of the fight, there is no doubt who won the bout. It will be lopsided enough to perhaps earn Watanabe a crack at Liz Carmouche again, now that Carmouche has the flyweight strap.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
It has been over a year and a half since Charlie Ward last fought. He makes his return this Friday against Alan Carlos in a fight that steals the show. Carlos likes to get his work done on the mat while Ward prefers to stay standing. This fight will come down to who can implement his game plan and will either end in a highlight-reel knockout win for Ward or a smooth submission finish for Carlos. This one is going to be fun no matter what.
Main Card (Showtime, 4 p.m. ET)
Interim WW Championship: Michael Page vs. Logan Storley
MW: Lyoto Machida vs. Fabian Edwards
Women’s FlyW: Denise Kielholtz vs. Kana Watanabe
WW: Paul Daley vs. Wendell Giacomo
LHW: Luke Trainer vs. Simon Biyong
Preliminary Card (YouTube, 1 p.m. ET)
Women’s FlyW: Kate Jackson vs. Elina Kallionidou
WW: Oliver Enkamp vs. Mark Lemminger
FW: Daniel Weichel vs. Robert Whiteford
MW: Charlie Ward vs. Alan Carlos
StrawW: Chiara Penco vs. Lanchana Green
LHW: Arunas Andriuskevicus vs. David Trallero
LHW: Lee Chadwick vs. Maciej Rozanski
FW: Andrew Fisher vs. Attila Korkmaz
LW: Alfie Davis vs. Tim Wilde
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