This Thursday, Bellator has a great lineup of fights on tap for its debut night on CBS Sports Network. In the past few years, the organization has had incredible success in signing big names and top prospects, as well as holding their events around the world; however, becoming a member of CBS Sports is possibly their biggest accomplishment. The four fight main card is filled with exciting matchups and begins at 10:00 p.m. EST, following a three-hour undercard which airs on YouTube. I will be cageside, covering the fan-less event.
To begin the main card, Saad Awad meets Mandel Nallo in the lightweight division. In his 21st Bellator fight, Awad is fighting an opponent who has only eight professional fights. Awad says he feels no disrespect from the matchmaking, but when asked specifically about his opponent he kept his answer brief at “he’s tall and good looking.” Standing at 7-1, Nallo is an exciting prospect with a 100% finishing rate. Nallo is looking to keep this stat alive en route to getting back in the win column after his first professional loss.
Next on the card, Ricky Bandejas takes on Leandro Higo in an intriguing bantamweight scrap. Bandejas arrived on the Bellator scene two years ago with a knockout win over top prospect James Gallagher. Since this win, Bandejas has been matched up with some of the top 135 pounders on the Bellator roster, but unfortunately a win over a top contender has eluded him. In comes Leandro Higo, who himself dealt with these same struggles at featherweights. After losses to the then champion Darrion Caldwell and super-prospect Aaron Pico, Higo made the decision to move back down to bantamweight. In his next and most recent fight, Higo impressively defeated Shawn Bunch by second round guillotine choke.
In the night’s co-main event, Patricky Pitbull fights Jaleel Willis at 155 pounds. Willis was recently signed to Bellator after he won a title with a different promotion in August. This fight is a quick turnaround, especially considering he usually fights at 170 pounds; however, on media day he looked ready to go and was very excited about his upcoming fight. Patricky will look to give Willis a rude welcome to the Bellator cage. Patricky has not lost in Bellator since 2016, and in his most recent fights he has had some of his best performances.
In the main event, champion Cris Cyborg and Arlene Blencowe take center stage for the women’s featherweight championship. In her Bellator debut last January, Cyborg put on a clinic against the former champ Julia Budd. Cyborg admits that after that fight she began training for a boxing match, but the coronavirus had other plans. Cyborg respects her opponent, but I think that in the back of her mind she is more excited about what might come next. There are rumors that with a win, Cyborg might step into the boxing ring to fight the unified lightweight champ and Irish superstar Katie Taylor. Here to put a stop to these conversations is Blencowe, who earned her title shot on a three-fight win streak. Blencowe believes she has better standup than Cyborg as well as superior cardio. Whether or not you believe this to be true, it is very promising to hear this from Blencowe, as Cyborg has a history of making opponents give up on their chances of winning. Bellator 249 is a can’t miss event, and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see it in person.