With all of the hype surrounding the imposing Bellator 180 Pay-Per-View card at Madison Square Garden in New York, a great deal of other Bellator cards might get overlooked. However, there are more than enough justifiable reasons to tune into Bellator 176 and Bellator Kickboxing 5 on April 8.
Giorgio Petrosyan’s Return
Perhaps the biggest reason to tune into the action is the return of Giorgio Petrosyan (84-2-2). The Armenian-Italian legend is widely considered the best pound-for-pound kickboxer in the world today. The defensive mastery he displays is a thing of beauty, and he maintains enough offensive volume to keep the fight intriguing. The veteran of 80 plus fights will be squaring off against Romanian standout Amancio Paraschiv (23-5-1). The 24-year-old 29-fight veteran will enter the biggest fight of his career as he gets a shot at proving himself one of the best in the world. This fight at Bellator KB 5 is undoubtedly meant to serve as a showcase fight for Petrosyan. That said, Paraschiv has never been a pushover and that won’t change come April 8 in Turin, Italy.
Rafael Carvalho vs. Melvin Manhoef II
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit the first meeting between Carvalho and Manhoef was dreadfully tough to watch. Both men were too respectful to get into striking range, and unable to pull the trigger once in range. If you didn’t catch it, it was very similar to the second meeting between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. In fact, both fights ended in highly disputed decisions as well. There is a chance this fight could be a boring repeat, but odds show otherwise. Both Rafael Carvalho (13-1) and Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1) are devastating knockout artists who generally look to finish fights. Both are likely to have learned from mistakes made in the first fight and both will look to get a more decisive victory at Bellator 176 to prove they are the promotion’s middleweight king.
Bellator Kickboxing Flyweight Championship
Dutch striking ace Denise “Miss Dynamite” Kielholtz (46-3) currently holds the distinction of being the Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion. The outstanding striker won the title by defeating Gloria Peritore by decision at Bellator KB 4. Her first title defense will come in the form of Muay Thai champion Martine Michieletto (18-10-3). This would be an intriguing clash of striking styles as Kielholtz kickboxing style will go up against the traditional Muay Thai style of Michieletto. One of the best fights of the night this battle of great strikers is expected to deliver great technical action throughout at Bellator KB 5.
The Top Prospects
While legends and superstars are fun to watch, sometimes you want to know what the future of an organization looks like. Bellator 176 and Bellator KB 5 will provide us with a few answers to that question.
Undefeated welterweight prospect Carrington Banks [read our interview with him HERE] is currently 2-0 under the Bellator banner and 6-0 overall. The standout wrestler will be taking on fellow undefeated prospect Mihail Nica (5-0). There is a great deal of hype surrounding Banks currently as he looks to continue his remarkable run and prove himself a contender in the stacked Bellator welterweight division. While Banks is already a well-known prospect, Mihail Nica has made quite an impression on the Italian MMA scene and the Romanian will look to show the world he has a higher ceiling by beating Banks on Bellator 176 main card.
Bellator as done well to push co-main eventer Anastasia Yankova as the next big thing in women’s mixed martial arts, and through gritty performances she has proven she is more than a pretty face. Now at 4-0 in her young career, the 26-year-old Yankova will face her biggest challenge in fellow prospect Elina Kallionidou. Fighting professionally since the age of 16 the 18-year-old Kallionidou is currently 5-1 in her career. Anastasia Yankova won her Bellator debut over Anjela Pink by submission before picking up a decision win over Veta Arteaga at Bellator 161. Unfortunately for Kallionidou her Bellator debut didn’t go as planned dropping a decision to Irish boxing specialist Sinead Kavanagh. However, beating Yankova would be a huge way to bounce back for the young competitor.
One of the best young kickboxing prospects, Gaston Bolanos (8-0) will be competing at Bellator KB 5. At Bellator 172 Bolanos made a successful professional mixed martial arts debut against Abner Perez. Now returning to his roots Bolanos will look to display his arsenal of offensive strikes and vicious elbows as he takes on Luca D’Isanto (36-13-4).
Bellator 176/Bellator KB 5 may not be the most stacked card Bellator has had this year, but it certainly has the potential to be the most electrifying. It will be a display of kickboxing mastery, middleweight knockout artist, and surging young prospects live and free on SpikeTV on April 8 at the Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy.