This weekend brings another enticing night of fights for Bellator as Michael “Venom” Page and Paul “Semtex” Daley settle their rivalry. The main card also features a stellar heavyweight showcase with Roy Nelson, Mirko Cro Cop, and Cheick Kongo all returning to action. Vitaly Minakov makes his return to Bellator after finishing seven fights in a row at Fight Nights Global.
Erick Silva makes his Bellator debut tomorrow night against Yaroslav Amosov. The 25-year-old Ukrainian puts his undefeated streak on the line against a reinvigorated Silva. Bellator 216 will take place on Saturday, February 16, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Venom, meet Semtex
Michael Page and Paul Daley’s rivalry has grown to a fever pitch in the lead up to this card. Both fighters have expressed their shared distaste, but words will finally become actions this weekend. After a promising return to form against Lorenz Larkin, Paul Daley seemed to turn back the clock. However, his next outing against Jon Fitch showed his deficiencies in the grappling department as he suffered another loss via UD.
Against MVP, Paul Daley will look to create another moment of magic as he faces a crafty opponent. MVP’s game continues to evolve with each fight. Between his boxing and MMA career, he’s kept busy adding to his striking acumen in all fields. With each fight, the aura around MVP continues to grow with his undefeated streak. Put simply, there is no fighter like Michael Page under the Bellator banner, or in all of MMA for that manner. To continue his legacy, he has to put away his most hated opponent yet in extraordinary fashion.
Michael Page has walked through most of his opponents within the MMA scene. But there’s no denying Daley’s danger in close proximity if MVP gets carried away. Like Anderson Silva, MVP has been prone to theatrics and his need for flair may cause some unwanted harm if he isn’t careful. Paul Daley may not be the same fighter he was ten years ago, but his power still hasn’t gone anywhere. Bad blood often leads to big moments in the fight game, and this one is no different.
Cro Cop vs. Big Country
Mirko Cro Cop makes his Bellator return after an injury spell. Although he lost his first encounter against Roy Nelson, that hasn’t deterred Crop Cop’s confidence. At the age of 44, and coming off a recent ACL tear, Cro Cop remains upbeat in regards to this fight. Since his last loss in 2013, the Croatian has won nine fights all via stoppage. Whether it’s the change of scenery or the new haircut, there’s no denying Cro Cop is aging like wine.
Roy Nelson has faced some tough opposition since joining Bellator, and this fight is no different. Nelson will look to grind this one out in hopes of attaining a victory. While Nelson’s striking hasn’t been a liability fighting at Bellator, there’s too much experience on the other side of the cage to rely on that as a steady weapon. Cro Cop is undoubtedly looking for a finish to add his name to the heavyweight contender running. To counter that goal, Nelson will need to make this fight an ugly one.
The heavyweight rematch
Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov II is an interesting relic of Bellator history. In their first fight, Minakov bested Kongo in a unanimous decision victory to retain the heavyweight belt. Soon after, he would leave the promotion in controversy due to his inactivity. Since then he’s dominated the regional circuit putting together a devastating highlight reel. All these years later, Minakov makes his return to the Bellator banner against an in-form Cheick Kongo.
Kongo has steadily made a killing in Bellator since his loss to Minakov. In his last 10 fights, Kongo boasts a 9-1 record with his only blemish coming at the hands of Muhammad Lawal. If he isn’t being decisioned by his opponent, Kongo has no problem finding a way to victory. Kongo has finished his last two fights, and the consistency in appearance may be aiding his performances. With his stellar record thus far, it’s mind-boggling how Kongo hasn’t gotten his shot at Bellator gold.
Cheick Kongo has even poked fun at Scott Coker guaranteeing him a shot if he wins this match. The resume speaks for itself, and Kongo has improved his game enough to overcome adversity. Although Minakov has looked menacing since his Bellator departure, the quality of opponents hasn’t been the same. With title aspirations on the line, this fight may be more than worth a second look.
Old guard meets the new school
In our last fight for this preview, Erick Silva makes his Bellator debut in a barn burner match up. Yaroslav Amosov brings a mixed bag of strengths into his second fight for the promotion. Part grappler, part brawler, Amosov is no stranger to making fights gritty and difficult. Which makes the pairing against Erick Silva all the more gratifying.
Erick Silva bounced back mightily in his last win for LFA, and he will look to continue that positive note on Saturday. Although he endured a tough spell in his last few fights with the UFC, the change of scenery may grant him new life with Scott Coker’s promotion. Amosov is not a gimme fight by any stretch of the imagination. If Silva looks to come out on top, he will need to return to that killer instinct that made him a worrisome fighter just a few short years ago.
Bellator 216 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.