On Saturday, Sep. 23, Bellator returns to Dublin for a stacked event in Ireland, which always attracts an enthusiastic crowd to the 3Arena. The Scott Coker-run promotion has established a massive fight card featuring a whopping 21 fights.
In the Bellator 299 main event, Johnny Eblen looks to extend his middleweight title reign after taking out Anatoly Tokov. He now faces the number one-ranked Fabian Edwards, the brother of UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
Eblen vs. Edwards is an intriguing stylistic matchup against two homegrown talents. It’ll be interesting to see if “The Assassin” can follow in his older brother’s footsteps.
The co-main event on Saturday will showcase one of the most highly-touted fighters on the Bellator roster, as Aaron Pico plans to spark a winning streak. Pico must be ready for a test because Pedro Carvalho has proven to be a dangerous threat to anyone when he’s performing at his best.
Meanwhile, Bellator 299 has a handful of other entertaining matchups, including Sabah Homasi vs. Levan Chokheli, Mansour Barnaoui vs. Jay Jay Wilson, Sinead Kavanagh vs. Sara Collins, and more.
The Bellator 299: Eblen vs. Edwards preliminary card airs live on YouTube starting at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the main card on Showtime starting at 4 p.m. ET. Check out the full preview and predictions below.
Fabian Edwards has watched his brother become a world champion in recent years; can “The Assassin” dethrone Johnny Eblen and become the second person in the Edwards family to earn gold?
Johnny Eblen started his professional MMA career as primarily a wrestler after making a name for himself at the University of Missouri. Since then, he’s evolved into a well-rounded fighter due to the high-level training partners and coaches at American Top Team.
Eblen has maintained an undefeated overall record because of his ability to keep his opponent guessing while he continuously applies pressure. The question is, will he be able to assert his dominance against Fabian Edwards?
Edwards has a similar fighting style to his brother, Leon Edwards. He has sharp striking skills that allow him to break down his opponents. ‘The Assassin’ also maintains reliable takedown defense and grappling skills that should prevent Eblen from holding him down for extended periods.
Edwards will likely need to prioritize leg kicks to slow down Eblen’s forward pressure. From there, the title challenger could break down the champion by circling the cage and landing clean shots early and often.
With that said, Eblen’s ability to make adjustments mid-fight has made him a difficult puzzle to solve. Therefore, the reigning middleweight king should be able to retain his title with a clear unanimous decision.
Aaron Pico recovered nicely from his shoulder injury by defeating James Gonzales; can he continue his march towards the featherweight crown by getting past Pedro Carvalho?
Aaron Pico’s bizarre shoulder injury was a concern for those who support the rising prospect. Luckily, he bounced back earlier this year by securing a unanimous decision win against James Gonzales. He now looks to take the next step toward a title shot by taking out Pedro Carvalho.
It’ll be easier said than done for Pico, as Carvalho has shown flashes of brilliance under the Bellator banner. The 28-year-old has also showcased several disappointing performances, making it unclear what version of him we will see on Saturday.
If Pico and Carvalho are at their best, we could be in for a wild co-main event at Bellator 299. Carvalho has the experience and poise to secure a win, but Pico’s overwhelming aggression could be a difference-maker.
When push comes to shove, Pico is on track to reaching the massive expectations he received earlier in his career. The Jackson Wink product should be able to secure a TKO finish in the second or third round. Sara Collins scored a submission win in her Bellator debut; how does she fare against the battle tested Sinead Kavanagh?
Sinead Kavanagh has endured various ups and downs in Bellator, but she’s currently riding a two-fight win streak. The Irish fan-favorite hopes to continue building momentum at Bellator 299 to potentially earn another title shot.
Kavanagh’s upcoming opponent is Sara Collins, a 33-year-old with a 4-0 professional MMA record. On paper, Kavanagh should have a significant experience advantage, but Collins shouldn’t be underestimated.
Earlier this year, the Aussie made a statement in her promotional debut by submitting Pam Sorenson in the first round.
Kavanagh has established a reputation for being a gritty striker who has the power to knock out anyone in the division. Although she doesn’t tend to engage in grappling battles, the 37-year-old has never been submitted through fourteen professional MMA fights.
Collins looked impressive in her promotional debut, but Kavanagh is a different beast, especially when fighting in Ireland. ‘KO’ should be able to overwhelm the Aussie with pressure before lighting the venue on first with an electric knockout win.
Which fight is the sleeper matchup on this card?
The Bellator 299 sleeper matchup is a lightweight bout between Mansour Barnaoui and Jay Jay Wilson.
Earlier this year, Barnaoui was shockingly knocked out of the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix due to a unanimous decision loss against Brent Primus. It seems like fans have written him off, but the former Road FC champion has plenty more to show.
Meanwhile, Wilson is in somewhat of a similar position. ‘The Maori Kid’ was considered one of the biggest prospects in Bellator before enduring a loss against Gadzhi Rabadanov in March 2022. Seven months later, he bounced back with a split-decision win against Vladimir Tokov in his latest fight.
Barnaoui and Wilson are ready to make a statement and potentially spark a run to the Bellator lightweight title. As a result, the matchup on Saturday should be a high-level war showcasing two fighters who deserve more respect at 155 pounds.
Main Card (Showtime, 4 p.m. ET)
MW Championship: Johnny Eblen vs. Fabian Edwards
FW: Aaron Pico vs. Pedro Carvalho
FW: Mads Burnell vs. Daniel Weichel
Women’s FW: Sinead Kavanagh vs. Sara Collins
WW: Levan Chokheli vs. Sabah Homasi
Preliminary Card (YouTube, 11 a.m. ET)
FW: Brian Moore vs. Otto Rodrigues
LHW: Luke Trainer vs. Laurynas Urbonavičius
LW: Mark Ewen vs. Noah Gugnon
FW: Kenny Mokhonoana vs. Josh O’Connor
StrawW: Chiara Penco vs. Mackenzie Stiller
WW: Nicolo Solli vs. Romain Debienne
WW: Peter Queally vs. Daniele Miceli
MW: Charlie Ward vs. Gregory Babene
BW: Ciaran Clarke vs. Przemysław Górny
FW: Darragh Kelly vs. Jelle Zeegers
LW: Mansour Barnaoui vs. Jay Jay Wilson
WW: Luca Poclit vs. Roman Faraldo
LW: Davy Gallon vs. Attila Korkmaz
FW: Asael Adjoudj vs. Ibrahim Al-Faqih Hassan
HW: Sergey Bilostenniy vs. Kasim Aras
FW: Khasan Magomedsharipov vs. Piotr Niedzielski
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