This Friday, February 15, Bellator MMA returns to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, for Bellator 215.
The 15-fight event is set to air on Paramount Network while streaming on DAZN. The preliminary portion of the card kicks off at 6:30 PM/3:30 PM (ET/PT), and the main card begins at 9:00 PM/6:00 PM (ET/PT).
Undefeated heavyweight prospect, Steve Mowry (5-0), will compete on the prelims, squaring off against Egypt’s Ahmed Samir Hefny. The 6-foot-8 Hardknocks 365 standout will look to continue his winning ways in his second fight under the Bellator banner.
The five-fight main card is loaded with talent, from young, rising prospects to battle-tested, savvy veterans.
Austin Vanderford vs. Cody Jones
Austin “AK47” Vanderford (6-0), 28, is a surging, undefeated prospect competing in the welterweight division.
The Gracie Barra Portland product has yet to lose a fight, compiling a 4-0 amateur record prior to turning pro in 2017. Vanderford has finished four of his six wins, with two stoppages via TKO and two via rear-naked choke.
Vanderford, who competed and won on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, is married to UFC flyweight, Paige VanZant. The marriage has led many in the MMA community to refer to Vanderford as “Mr. VanZant”, a nickname he has embraced.
Vanderford will put his undefeated record on the line against South Carolina’s Cody Jones.
Jones, 26, turned pro in 2015 after a lengthy, twelve-fight amateur career in which he compiled an 11-1 record. As a professional fighter, Jones has gone 6-2 and is currently riding a four-fight winning streak.
Jones is an opportunistic finisher, having finished five of his six wins, all five of which came in the first round.
Jones will look to spoil Vanderford’s Bellator debut and extend his winning streak to five straight fights in this catchweight (175 lbs) bout.
Mike Kimbel vs. John Douma
One of Bellator’s top prospects, 21-year-old Mike Kimbel takes on New Jersey’s John Douma in the second main card fight of the card.
Kimbel turned pro in 2018 on the heels of a 4-4 amateur campaign. Since making the jump, however, Kimbel has been perfect, scoring two impressive, quick finishes under the Bellator banner.
Kimbel’s total fight time as a professional is 1:09, and he holds the record for the fastest finish in Bellator history, a six-second knockout of Alex Potts last October.
In Douma, Kimbel will face a stiff test.
Douma, 22, has fought four times (winning three) for CES, one of New England’s top regional promotions. Douma is coming off his first professional loss, a third-round TKO to Adam Acquaviva.
Prior to the loss, Douma had won all three of his professional bouts, finishing all of them before the third round.
Douma will look to get back in the win column with a victory over the hyped Kimbel.
Eduardo Dantas vs. Toby Misech
Former Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas will look to snap a two-fight losing streak against Hawaii’s Toby Misech.
Dantas, 30, captured the bantamweight title in 2016, defeating Marcos Galvão via unanimous decision. He defended the title against Joe Warren and defeated Leandro Higo in a non-title bout (as Higo missed weight), both by decision.
Higo is widely regarded as one of the world’s best bantamweights but after a championship loss to Darrion Caldwell and a TKO loss – including a scary leg injury – to Michael McDonald make this match with Misech a must-win for the former champion.
Misech, also 30, took this bout on short notice, getting the call to fill in for the injured Manny Vasquez around two weeks ago.
Misech (11-6) won his Bellator debut in December via flying knee knockout. Prior to fighting for Bellator, Misech dropped a unanimous decision to Ricky Palacios on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
A win over Dantas would certainly big the biggest of Misech’s career, and he will look to make good on his short notice bid.
Logan Storley vs. Ion Pascu
In the co-main event, the undefeated Logan Storley will take on Romania’s Ion Pascu.
Storley, 26, is one of Bellator’s top young welterweights. A four-time All-American at the University of Minnesota, Storley has some of the best wrestling credentials in the promotion. Additionally, he’s one of the most exciting: Storley won the University of Minnesota’s ‘Most Exciting Wrestler Award’.
Last August, Storley dominated longtime veteran AJ Matthews to move to 9-0. He’ll face a battle-tested veteran in Pascu.
Pascu, 36, has nine knockouts and four submissions to his name.
The Romanian has fought twice for Bellator, dropping decisions to Ed Ruth and Lorenz Larkin, respectively.
Prior to Bellator, Pascu had competed for Abu Dhabi Warriors, BAMMA, and ACB.
The 36-year-old will look to earn his first win inside the Bellator cage and steal Storley’s ‘0’ in the co-main event of Bellator 215.
Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov
In the main event of Bellator 215, veterans Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov will face off in a heavyweight showdown.
Mitrione, 40, made his MMA debut inside the UFC’s Octagon. The Illinois native was featured on The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights, which aired in 2009.
Mitrione was submitted by James McSweeney in the quarter-finals but was signed to the UFC shortly thereafter. He won six straight fights with the promotion, including a win over backyard brawling legend, Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.
Mitrione continued on in the UFC, dropping fights to notable names like Cheick Kongo, Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub, Ben Rothwell, and Travis Browne, while scoring wins over the likes of Shawn Jordan, Gabriel Gonzaga, Philip De Fries, and Derrick Lewis.
Mitrione has since moved to Bellator MMA, where he went on a tear, winning four straight fights. The American defeated former strongman, Oli Thompson; the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, and avenged a loss to Roy Nelson before being outpointed by eventual Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Ryan Bader.
Now, Mitrione will look to get back on track against Russia’s Kharitonov.
Kharitonov, 38, is riding a six-fight unbeaten streak, most recently defeating the durable Roy Nelson via TKO in the first round of their October showdown.
The Russian is one of the sport’s most accomplished heavyweights, holding wins over Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem, the aforementioned Nelson, Pedro Rizzo, and Fabricio Werdum.
Kharitonov will look to continue his winning ways against Mitrione in the main event of Bellator 215, with the winner aptly positioning themselves at the top of the division’s food chain.
Bellator 215 is just one of the many major MMA events taking place this weekend.
For more information, make sure to read our MMA Geek Guide for February 13-19.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.