There are two big MMA events taking place this weekend, but everything will be kicking off with the Bellator 176 card. The event will be headlined by a middleweight title rematch as Rafael Carvalho defends the gold against Melvin Manhoef. Also, Anastasia Yankova faces Elina Kallionidou and several other top MMA prospects will be stepping in the cage.
(Note: There are no preliminary card fights, the second half of the card is all kickboxing fights.)
Bellator MMA Middleweight Title Fight
Rafael Carvalho (13-1-0) (Champion) vs. Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1-2NC)
Carvlaho won the initial meeting between himself and Manhoef at Bellator 155, the win came via a controversial decision. Manhoef has only won just two of five fights in Bellator MMA, with those wins coming over Doug Marshall and Hisaki Kato. Carvalho won the championship when he defeated Brandon Halsey by TKO at Bellator 144, this will be his second title defense. Manhoef will be looking to win his first ever MMA championship here, as he has held many titles in kickboxing.
Prediction: Manhoef did a great job in the last fight popping in and out with his attacks, but Carvalho is healthy this time around and he uses his range to pick apart Manhoef upon gaining a second round TKO finish.
Bellator MMA Women’s Catchweight Division Fight
Elina Kallionidou (5-1-0) vs. Anastasia Yankova (4-0-0)
Kallionidou is currently winless under the Bellator MMA banner, having dropped a fight to Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 169. Yankova has already earned two wins in Bellator MMA competition, defeating Anjela Pink and Veta Arteaga. Kallionidou is a former Cage Survivor Women’s Bantamweight Champion, she defeated Foteini Kromida to win the gold at Cage Survivor 4. Yankova has seen only one of her four bouts as a pro go the distance, that was her last bout against Veta Arteaga at Bellator 161.
Prediction: Yankova fades quickly in fights she’s not in control of, Kallionidou uses her striking mixed with the clinch to earn a decision win.
Bellator MMA Lightweight Division Fight
Djamil Chan (12-3-0) vs. Valeriu Mircea (13-4-0)
Chan has won just one of two fights in Bellator MMA, defeating Richard Patishnock and suffering a defeat to Derek Campos. Mircea is currently winless under the Bellator MMA banner, dropping a fight to Goiti Yamauchi at Bellator 168. Chan has also held the Respect Fighting Championships Lightweight Title and the German MMA Championships Lightweight Title. Mircea fought a total of nine times last year and he earned a total of seven wins in those fights., with only two of those fights going the distance.
Prediction: Mircea showed a weakness for the ground game in his last fight, but Chan is going to want to keep the fight standing, Chan finishes Mircea with strikes in the first round.
Samba Coulibaly (11-4-0) vs. Mihail Nica (5-0-0)
Coulibaly will be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and he will be competing for the second time in under a month. Nica will also be making his Bellator MMA debut in this fight and only one of his five fights as a pro went past the first round. Coulibaly is a longtime veteran of the 100% Fight promotion, earning a total of six wins in the promotion. Nica earned a fight in Bellator MMA by winning the Fight Or Nothing Road To Bellator Tournament, defeating Aldo Cirillo in the finals.
Prediction: These are two fighters who are known for their finishing abilities, but it will be Coulibaly grounding and submitting Nica in the opening round.
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