Bellator 216: “MVP vs. Semtex” takes place TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 16, 2019) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The second show of a back-to-back double header in the same venue features the latest Welterweight Grand Prix bracket along with two (literally) huge rematches that will stream exclusively on DAZN.
Let’s break it down:
170 lbs.: Michael “Venom” Page (13-0) vs. Paul “Semtex” Daley (40-16-2)
There is no love lost between these English strikers. In a previous interview, ”MVP” said Paul Daley “kinda sucks” and in return Daley said Michael Page was ducking him and that he didn’t really want to fight. The trash talking led to a date finally being set in Nov. 2018 and taking place this weekend. That hasn’t really put an end to their issues though as they are two of the most well known fighters in their region and ultimately would have crossed paths with or without Bellator’s tournament to match them up.
Even though the reputations of both men speak for themselves I’m going to address anyone new to Bellator who might be tuning in for the first time. Keep this in mind: 75 percent of Daley’s wins in MMA (30 of 40) come via knockout, while 61.5 percent of Page’s wins (eight of 13) come the same way. You might expect a barn burner based on those numbers, but if we’ve learned one thing about Page in the last few years it’s that he can fight a safe if boring strategy when needed. The safest thing to do when facing “Semtex” is to pile up the rounds until he gets tired. He carries a lot of muscle on a small frame (5’9”) and the harder he works the more air he’ll need to suck in.
Unfortunately, since every fight in the Grand Prix is either like a world title fight or actually a world title fight that puts Daley in a bad spot. “MVP” can execute the Jon Fitch strategy and easily advance to face Douglas Lima without any big risks. Is he willing to do that and draw the ire of the fans though? If there’s one other thing we know about Page it’s that he craves the spotlight and won’t get it without another one of his signature flashy knockouts. He’ll have to weigh the choice between being a star and risking a big right hand from Daley knocking his block off, or playing it safe to move one step closer to the world title. It’s going to be very hard for Page to have it both ways.
Final prediction: Michael Page advances via fourth round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Mirko Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) vs. Roy Nelson (23-16)
This bout pits two fighters who met before at UFC 137. Since that time one left UFC under a cloud of suspicion for cheating, while the other wanted a “quality of life” change that only Scott Coker could provide (or UFC just didn’t find him valuable enough to keep around). This fight was supposed to happen last year at Bellator 200, but Cro Cop withdrew with an injury, leaving fans wondering if this second clash of the titans would ever take place.
It seems Cro Cop is finally ready to go and given Nelson has lost two in a row the timing couldn’t be better. Nelson’s legendary chin finally crumbled against the brutal power of Sergei Kharitonov, and since Cro Cop is Mr. “Right Leg Hospital, Left Leg Cemetery” he’s not a man you want to get old quick against. Almost 76 percent of his wins (28 of 37) come by knockout and that includes eight of his last nine opponents. If he were going against a younger man I’d be more concerned about the 44-year-old Cro Cop, but Nelson himself is 42 and you get the feeling watching him that he’s just taken too much damage over the years and it’s now finally catching up to him.
Final prediction: Mirko Cro Cop wins via first round head kick of DOOM
265 lbs.: Cheick Kongo (29-10-2) vs. Vitaly Minakov (21-0)
This is “where the big boys play” and it’s not World Championship Wrestling, it’s Bellator’s Heavyweight division on display. Minakov was, in fact, the Bellator world champion until he was stripped for not defending the title, but he has remained perfect in fighting ever since. With 19 finishes in 21 fights (12 knockouts and seven submissions) he’s absolute monster in any company he fights for — and that’s not even considering he stands 6’4” and has a 78” reach. You’re basically fighting a wall of muscle with enough judo and sambo expertise to throw you around like a ragdoll no matter how big you are.
They don’t come much bigger than Kongo, though. He, too, stands 6’4” and is actually longer with a three-inch reach advantage at 81.” Although Kongo’s seven-fight win streak was at times criticized as boring his back-to-back wins via knockout have re-established him as one of the top fighters in the division. It’s even more remarkable to realize that when you factor in the fact he’s 43 years old. If you stretch his record back even further to 2013 only two men have beaten him in the last five years — “King Mo” and (guess who) Vitaly Minakov.
It’s hard to say if this is a compelling rematch to the casual viewers out there, but for a long time MMA fans and/or followers of Bellator it’s a very intriguing story. Can the elder statesman of the Heavyweights knockoff the man who once beat him before, extending his win streak to eight and arguably earning a world title shot to boot? Can the man who Bellator stripped of the title remain undefeated and earn his shot to get the title back? You couldn’t ask for a better scenario than this, but as much as I hate to say it, I get the feeling Father Time is going to catch up to Kongo against a fighter who is ten years his junior.
Final prediction: Vitaly Minakov beats Cheick Kongo (again) via decision
170 lbs.: Yaroslav Amosov (20-0) vs. Erick Silva (20-9, 1 NC)
This fight is a bit of a sleeper on such a loaded card, but it’s definitely not one to miss. After signing with Bellator in Sept. 2018, Erick Silva was penciled in for several fights that for one reason or another fell through, but he’s finally getting to make his promotional debut here. The bad news for him is that Amosov has come into Bellator like a wrecking ball and after beating Gerald Harris at Bellator 202 he remains undefeated. That fight was a rare decision for Amosov as he finishes an impressive 85 percent of his fights (17 out of 20). He’s equally balanced in his methods of victory as well — eight knockouts, nine submissions. The good news is that Silva is a multiple time recipient of UFC fight bonuses, so you know that win or lose he always comes out guns glazing. I predict … a very fun fight!
Final prediction: Yaroslav Amosov wins via third round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Valerie Loureda (0-0) vs. Colby Fletcher (1-2)
These days every Bellator card has one fight that makes you scratch your head and ask, “Why is this airing on the main card?” I just don’t get it. One fighter has no pro experience, and the other has a losing record, and there’s absolutely no hype behind either of them as a result. The cynical bastard in me can only assume that Bellator hopes more people will tune in at the start of the broadcast just to see two pretty little ladies fight. That’s a terribly sexist explanation for why this fight was booked, but if you’ve got a better one I’d love to hear it.
Final prediction: Valerie Loureda wins because somebody has to
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 216 tomorrow with a main card at 9 p.m. ET along with preliminary fights airing via DAZN at 7:30 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.