On Feb. 4, Bellator makes its CBS debut with a stacked fight card inside the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Bellator 290 currently features fourteen bouts, including two title fights, as they hope to start their new partnership on the right foot.
In the main event, Fedor Emelianenko looks to add one more world championship to his resume in his retirement fight against Ryan Bader. The heavyweights first fought in Jan. 2019, with Bader emerging victorious with a 35-second knockout. Four years later, ‘The Last Emperor’ has a chance to avenge the disappointing loss.
The second world championship fight at Bellator 290 comes from the middleweight division. Johnny Eblen looks to defend his throne for the first time against Anatoly Tokov. Although Eblen earned his respect against Gegard Mousasi, Tokov might be the best 185-pounder on the roster. A win against Tokov could set up a long title reign for Eblen.
As if two title fights weren’t enough, Bellator 290 features a variety of homegrown talent, including Neiman Gracie, Steve Mowry, Grant Neal, Jaylon Bates, Jornel Lugo, and more. The CBS-broadcasted fight card also features an action-packed welterweight bout between Sabah Homasi and Brennan Ward, which won’t be going the distance.
The Bellator 290 preliminary card airs live on YouTube starting at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on CBS at 9 p.m. ET. Check out the full preview and predictions below.
This will be Fedor Emelianenko’s final MMA fight; does “The Last Emperor” go out with a win and get revenge on Ryan Bader?
Fedor Emelianenko’s last fight will be emotional for longtime MMA fans that witnessed his legendary run with Pride Fighting Championship. The Russian has an opportunity to retire with a special moment on CBS and also avenge one of his worst losses ever. The question is, can he beat the man who took him out in 35 seconds?
Ryan Bader has arguably started to decline as a fighter at light heavyweight, but his speed advantage at heavyweight still holds up. Considering Emelianenko’s athleticism continues to decline, Bader could be an awful match for the Russian. Although ‘The Last Emperor’ continues to find ways to win with his fight IQ and toughness, Bader is still very dangerous and should be able to avoid the power of Emelianenko.
As long as Bader doesn’t get drawn into an all-out brawl, the former two-division Bellator world champion will likely emerge victorious with a knockout in the third or fourth round.
Johnny Eblen dethroned Gegard Mousasi to win the middleweight title in his last outing; does he have a successful first defense of the belt against Anatoly Tokov?
Johnny Eblen has a lot to prove at Bellator 290. The former University of Missouri wrestler was overlooked heading into his title fight against Gegard Mousasi. He silenced the doubters by dominating Mousasi for 25 minutes to become the Bellator middleweight champion. Eblen is now looking to defend his throne against Anatoly Tokov, who currently holds a promotional record of 7-0.
Tokov has improved his striking, but the Russian still relies on his grappling. Meanwhile, Eblen is difficult to take down and even harder to keep down. ‘The Human Cheat Code’ also showed that he is a dangerous striker against Mousasi. Although Tokov has looked phenomenal since joining Bellator, Eblen has faced tougher competition and continues to improve. The American should be able to counter Tokov’s grappling and take advantage of his striking advantage, leading to a unanimous decision win.
Brennan Ward is 2-0 since returning from a nearly five-year hiatus; can he make it three straight wins and defeat Sabah Homasi?
It’s time to find out if Brennan Ward has what it takes to be a legitimate welterweight contender. The 34-year-old took off nearly five years to get his life together and has looked impressive with two second-round knockouts since returning. He is now receiving a step up in competition against the always dangerous Sabah Homasi.
Homasi has had an up-and-down career, but he might be finally putting it all together. The number eight-ranked Bellator welterweight had an eye-opening year in 2022 with a statement win against Jaleel Willis, followed by a knockout of the year candidate against Maycon Mendoca. Homasi is getting a dream matchup against Ward, considering they are both willing to stand and trade.
Ward has an inspiring comeback story, but his two wins since returning were against questionable opponents. Homasi is on a roll and should be able to add another first-round knockout to his resume at Bellator 290.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
There are several sleeper match-ups on the Bellator 290 fight card. The honorable mentions include a heavyweight banger between Steven Mowry and Ali Isaev and a potential breakout moment for Jaylon Bates against Jornel Lugo. With that said, the must-see sleeper match-up is a light heavyweight showdown between Grant Neal and Karl Albrektsson.
Neal is a homegrown Bellator talent that established a 6-0 pro-MMA record before losing a split decision to Alex Polizzi. He was somewhat written off before bouncing back with a statement win against Christian Edwards. The 27-year-old is taking on Albrektsson, who is never an easy opponent.
Albrektsson has fought all over the world, including a win against reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov in 2016. ‘King’ returned to Bellator in 2021 and put the division on notice by defeating Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov before losing in disappointing fashion against Karl Moore last year. He looks to get back in the win column by taking out the number six-ranked Neal. Both fighters have potential to become world champions and look to take a step closer at Bellator 290.
|Main Card (CBS, 9 p.m. ET)|
|HW Championship: Ryan Bader vs. Fedor Emelianenko||Bader|
|MW Championship: Johnny Eblen vs. Anatoly Tokov||Eblen|
|WW: Sabah Homasi vs. Brennan Ward||Homasi|
|Preliminary Card ()|
|WW: Neiman Gracie vs. Dante Schiro||Gracie|
|WW: Lorenz Larkin vs. Mukhamed Berkhamov||Larkin|
|FW: Henry Corrales vs. Akhmed Magomedov||Magomedov|
|HW: Steve Mowry vs. Ali Isaev||Isaev|
|LW: Chris Gonzalez vs. Max Rohskopf||Rohskopf|
|LHW: Grant Neal vs. Karl Albrektsson||Albrektsson|
|Women’s FlyW: Alejandra Lara vs. Diana Avsaragova||Avsaragova|
|BW: Darrion Caldwell vs. Nikita Mikhailov||Caldwell|
|BW: Jaylon Bates vs. Jornel Lugo||Bates|
|FW: Isaiah Hokit vs. Peter Ishiguro||Hokit|
|WW: Ethan Hughes vs. Yusuf Karakaya||Hughes|