This weekend, Bellator returns to the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu for back-to-back events on Friday, Apr. 21, and Saturday, Apr. 22. The first of the two events, Bellator 294: Carmouche vs. Bennett 2, features nine bouts, including several homegrown talents and promotional newcomers. The evening will be headlined by the women’s flyweight championship.
In the main event, Liz Carmouche is looking to defending her flyweight title for the second time, after stopping former champ Juliana Velasquez twice in her last two fights. The reigning women’s 125-pound champion hopes to maintain her throne by securing a second victory against DeAnna Bennett, who is coming off back-to-back wins of her own over Justine Kish.
The co-main event is a heavyweight matchup between Tim Johnson and Said Sowma. Johnson is riding a three-fighting losing streak against the division’s best, while Sowma has lost two consecutive split decisions against Davion Franklin and Gokhan Saricam. Both fighters will be eager to get back on track in Hawaii.
Bellator 294 also features the return of Danny Sabatello, the debut of Sara McMann, and an intriguing matchup between Killys Mota and Kenneth Cross.
The Bellator 294 preliminary card airs live on YouTube, or by clicking the picture above, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET. Check out the full preview and predictions below.
Liz Carmouche defeated DeAnna Bennett in her Bellator debut; does the champion improve to 2-0 against Bennett and retain her title?
Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche and DeAnna “Vitamin D” Bennett fought in Sep. 2020, with Carmouche emerging victorious by a third-round submission. On that night, Girl-Rilla did what she does best and grinded out Bennett with constant pressure and excruciating grappling exchanges. Since then, Bennett has shown improvements with three consecutive wins, but she will need to make some adjustments to win at Bellator 294.
Bennett is a solid striker, but she sometimes lacks the volume needed to win rounds. Vitamin D will need to keep the fight standing because Carmouche’s gritty grappling exchanges are a problem. Girl-Rilla should be able to rack up control time and hold her own on the feet, leading to a unanimous decision win.
Tim Johnson and Said Sowma have lost their five last combined fights; which hard-hitting heavyweight breaks his losing streak?
Tim Johnson vs. Said Sowma has the potential to steal the show at Bellator 294. Both fighters tend to take a more calculated approach than most heavyweights, with Johnson being more willing to let his hands go. They each need a win to get back on track, which should lead to an old-fashion heavyweight throwdown.
Sowma is a patient heavyweight who waits for the perfect opportunity to secure a finish. On the other hand, Johnson has more experience and sometimes adopts the kill-or-be-killed mentality. Neither fighter will likely be in a rush at Bellator 294, but it’ll only take one shot to secure a knockout. Sowma’s record isn’t a good representation of his skills, so expect him to silence the doubters with a TKO in the second round.
Arlene Blencowe has only lost title fights since returning to Bellator in 2017; does the trend continue with her defeating Sara McMann?
Arlene Blencowe showcased her warrior spirit in a rematch against Cris “Cyborg” Justino in Apr. 2022. Although she lost by unanimous decision, Blencowe proved that is a tough opponent for anyone in the women’s featherweight division.
“Angerfist” has been chosen as Sara McMann’s first opponent since leaving the UFC and signing with Bellator. Despite being 41 years old, McMann still has what it takes to make a run at 145 pounds. The former Olympic silver medalist wrestler has the grappling skills to negate her opponent’s offense, which could be a problem for Blencowe.
Blencowe has the striking power to take out McMann, but this is an awful matchup for her. McMann will take her time, secure a takedown, and rack up control time while waiting for a submission opportunity. The American should be able to secure a submission win in her Bellator debut.
Which fight is the sleeper matchup on this card?
The sleeper matchup is a lightweight bout between Killys Mota and Kenneth Cross. Mota is coming off two decision wins against Dan Moret and Jairo Pacheco, extending his Bellator record to 3-2. Meanwhile, Cross is making his promotional debut after an impressive run on the regional scene.
“The Boss” Cross has been given a tough test for his first Bellator fight. Mota has a gritty fighting style with more experience than Cross. With that said, 11 of Cross’ 13 wins have come inside the distance. The 28-year-old missed out on two opportunities to earn a UFC contract, which has put a chip on his shoulder heading into Bellator 294.
|Main Card (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET)|
|Women’s FlyW Championship: Liz Carmouche vs. DeAnna Bennett||Carmouche|
|HW:Tim Johnson vs. Said Sowma||Sowma|
|Women’s FW: Arlene Blencowe vs. Sara McMann||McMann|
|BW: Danny Sabatello vs. Marcos Breno||Sabatello|
|WW: Levan Chokheli vs. Michael Lombardo||Chokheli|
|Preliminary Card (YouTube, 8:30 p.m. ET)|
|LW: Killys Mota vs. Kenneth Cross||Cross|
|HW: Tyrell Fortune vs. Sergey Bilostenniy||Bilostenniy|
|FW: Chris Lencioni vs. Blake Smith||Lencioni|
|MW: Anthony Adams vs. Sharaf Davlatmurodov||Davlatmurodov|