Bellator recently announced some of the bouts for the upcoming Bellator 223 and Bellator 224 events. Here are the new fights, along with my thoughts on the new matchups below:
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr., Bellator 223
Bellator 223 takes place June 22 at SSE Arena in London, England, and the main event sees Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi taking on Rafael Lovato Jr. Read my thoughts on this fight in a previous edition of the MMA odds and ends here.
Paul Daley vs. Erick Silva, Bellator 223
An intriguing welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Erick Silva has been added to Bellator 223. Daley (40-17-2) is 5-4 in Bellator and is coming off of a close decision loss to Michael Page with a decision loss to Jon Fitch before that. He hasn’t won since a KO win over Lorenz Larkin in September 2017. Silva (20-10, 1 NC) is 0-1 in Bellator, having lost by decision to Yaroslav Amosov in his promotional debut. His last win came in July 2018 over Nick Barnes in LFA. Although Silva has a puncher’s chance, he is a shell of his former self, and despite Daley struggling to win his last couple of fights, he should be favored to win this bout.
James Gallagher vs. Jeremiah Labiano, Bellator 223
Featherweights James Gallagher and Jeremiah Labiano will fight at Bellator 223. Gallagher (8-1) has a 5-1 record in Bellator and rebounded nicely from his upset KO loss to Ricky Bandejas with a submission win over Stephen Graham his last time out. Labiano (12-6) is 2-2 overall in Bellator and is coming off of a TKO win over Justin Smitley. Although Gallagher is overrated, he should still be favored to win this fight.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Kent Kauppinen, Bellator 223
Middleweights Melvin Manhoef and Kent Kauppinen also meet at Bellator 223. Manhoef (30-14-1, 2 NC) is 42-years-old now and is coming off of consecutive losses to former champ Rafael Carvalho. His last win was a knockout victory over Hisaki Kato back in 2015, and overall he has a 2-3, 1 NC record in Bellator. Kauppinen (11-4) is just 1-1 in Bellator but he’s coming off of a KO win over Alessio Sakara which was a breakthrough performance for him. Despite Manhoef’s edge in experience, you have to favor the younger and more durable fighter here in Kauppinen.
Julia Budd vs. Olga Rubin, Bellator 224
And finally, Bellator 224 takes place July 12 at WinStar Resort Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and the main event features Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd against Olga Rubin. Budd (12-2) has a perfect 6-0 record in Bellator and hasn’t lost since a submission defeat to Ronda Rousey way back in 2011. She will be coming into this fight off of a one-year layoff as she hasn’t competed since a TKO win over Talita Nogueira last July, but Budd remains one of the most formidable women’s featherweights in the world regardless of any layoff. Rubin (6-0) is 4-0 in Bellator, though her level of competition has been sub-par, to say the least. Still, she received this title shot because of her perfect record and because there’s no one else worthy of fighting Budd, who will no doubt be a massive favorite to win the fight.