One week after the hugely successful Bellator 170, the promotion returns with a Friday Night card full of top talent. Bellator 171 will be headlined by a catchweight division attraction that will be pitting Melvin Guillard up against Chidi Njokuani. Also, David Rickels faces Aaron Derrow and featherweight AJ McKee looks to keep his undefeated streak alive.
Bellator MMA Catchweight Division Fight
Melvin Guillard (32-16-2-3NC) vs. Chidi Njokuani (16-4-0-1NC)
Guillard has gone winless thus far under the Bellator MMA banner, dropping fights to Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos, while fighting David Rickels to a no contest. Njokuani is currently undefeated in Bellator MMA competition, defeating Ricky Rainey, Thiago Goncalves and Andre Fialho. It has been well over two years since the last time Guillard earned a victory, which came over Gesias Cavalcante at the World Series Of Fighting 11. Njokuani is a former Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Tachi Palace Fights Welterweight Champion, he relinquished both titles upon signing with Bellator MMA.
Prediction: Guillard will be his patented power and reckless striking into the cage, but Njokuani counters him and finishes Guillard with strikes in the first round.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Aaron Derrow (14-8-0) vs. David Rickels (17-4-0-2NC)
Derrow is currently undefeated under the Bellator MMA banner, having defeated Daniel Jolly at Bellator 130. Rickels has only won just one of his last four in Bellator MMA, defeating Bobby Cooper, while suffering a defeat to Michael Chandler, plus fighting both John Alessio and Melvin Guillard to a no contest. Derrow hasn’t competed in well over two years, but he will be entering this fight on the strength of a two fight winning streak. Rickels hasn’t put a winning streak together in almost four years time, his last winning streak went for a total of four fights.
Prediction: Derrow will want to drag this fight to the ground quickly, but Rickels knows how to counter strike and he picks apart Derrow for the second round TKO.
Bellator MMA Featherweight Division Fight
AJ McKee (6-0-0) vs. Brandon Phillips (6-2-0)
McKee has spent his entire professional MMA career in Bellator MMA, where he earned five of six wins via first round finish. Phillips is undefeated in Bellator MMA competition, having defeated Chuka Willis by unanimous decision at Bellator 159. If you include his amateur MMA fights, McKee will actually be entering the fight on a ten fight winning streak, a streak that has lasted over three years. Phillips also fought once under the World Series Of Fighting banner, dropping a fight to Bryce Mitchell at the WSOF 33.
Prediction: Phillips has a good striking game, but McKee has wrestling, plus great ground and pound, McKee gets the first round TKO finish here.
Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Division Fight
Jessica Middleton (1-0-0) vs. Alice Smith Yauger (4-4-0)
Middleton made her professional MMA debut last year at Bellator 159, where she defeated Bruna Ellen by unanimous decision. Yauger will be making her Bellator MMA debut in this fight and she does so while riding a two fight winning streak. Middleton did go undefeated during her time as an amateur, defeating Julie Murray and Nici Kearney. Yauger is a veteran of the Sparta Combat League promotion, where she defeated Invicta FC veteran Shannon Sinn.
Prediction: Middleton pulled a big upset when she defeated Bruna Ellen in her pro MMA debut, but Yauger has good wrestling skills and she earned the decision in this one.
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Chris Harris over Jordan Young
Gaston Reyno over Justin Overton
Dominic Garcia over William Lavine
Jake Lindsey over Chance Recountre
Johnny Marigo over Joe Fulk
Manuel Meraz over Scott Heston
Mike Breedan over Craig Farley
Jarod Trice over Kevin Woltkamp
Tyrell Fortune over Will Johnson
Bruna Ellen over Carmela James