With the UFC opting out of a pay-per-view event in August the biggest mixed martial arts event of the month will undoubtedly be Bellator 182. While this card is likely flying under the radar for combat sports fans, here is why the remarkable card has boundless potential and is guaranteed to deliver the action.
In the main event of Bellator 182 a phenomenal welterweight contest between former champion Andrey Koreshkov and surging contender Chidi Njokuani will be the featured bout of the night. This fight could likely determine the next title challenger as current champion Douglas Lima is set to take on Rory MacDonald. It will be a very intriguing battle between two strikers with momentous knockout power looking to make a statement to the rest of the Bellator welterweights.
A 2010 World Combat Games Pankration Gold Medalist and former Bellator welterweight champion, Andrey Koreshkov has more than proven himself among the elite of the division. After starting his career undefeated through his first 13 fights including five Bellator wins, Koreshkov suffered his first career loss to then-champion Ben Askren. However, the Omsk, Russia native bounced back big winning his next six fights which included winning the welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over Douglas Lima. In his first title defense “The Spartan” picked up his biggest career win as he dominated former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson en route to a unanimous decision victory. Unfortunately for Andrey Koreshkov he was unable to continue the momentum suffering his first loss since 2013 to the hands of newly established champ Douglas Lima. Heading into Bellator 182, the Master of Sports in HTHC will be looking to set up a trilogy fight with Lima as he hopes to secure a dominant win over a great contender.
One of the best up and coming contenders in the stacked Bellator welterweight division, American-Nigerian Muay Thai kickboxing specialist Chidi Njokuani has been on an absolute tear as of late going on a nine-fight undefeated run. Currently undefeated in four Bellator appearances “Chidi Bang Bang” has made quite an impression since joining the promotion. After a great unanimous decision win over Ricky Rainey in his promotional debut, Njokuani picked up knockout wins in his next two fights including a 21 second knockout win over undefeated prospect André Fialho at Bellator Bellator 167. In his last fight at Bellator 171, the One Kick’s Gym and Sergio Penha BJJ product dominated long-time MMA veteran Melvin Guillard in every aspect as he secured a unanimous decision win. Now as he looks for his biggest career win Chidi Njokuani looks to put a stamp on his seven-fight win streak and prove why he should be next in line for the title.
Other reasons to watch Bellator 182:
Brennan Ward vs. Fernando Gonzalez
Speaking of exciting welterweight fights, the battle between Brennan Ward and Fernando Gonzalez is expected to deliver in the way of action. Brennan Ward is a finisher who has never been in a boring fight over his 19-fight career. He will be trying to bounce back from a devastating knockout loss to Paul Daley at Bellator 170. Across the cage from Ward will be a highly underrated Bellator welterweight contender in Fernando Gonzalez. The 40-fight veteran secured huge upset wins in his Bellator career going 5-0 under the Bellator banner before losing a lackluster decision to Michael Page at Bellator 165. In his last fight Gonzalez beat top lightweight contender Brandon Girtz by unanimous decision to improve to 6-1 in Bellator. This fight will definitely be one to watch.
A.J. McKee vs. Blair Tugman
Aside from the welterweight division, the featherweight division might be the most talent rich division in the promotion. At Bellator 182 undefeated 22-year-old featherweight prospect A.J. McKee will return to action. Having all eight of his professional fights under the Bellator banner, McKee is no stranger to the spotlight, and he is no stranger to delivering a great show finishing the majority of his fights. In his last fight at Bellator 178 the explosive knockout artist defeated Dominic Mazzotta with a devastating head kick. Now the son of notable MMA veteran Antonio McKee looks to display his skills once again. The lesser known Blair Tugman will be no pushover though as he looks to end the hype train of McKee. Starting his career at just 5-5, Tugman was likely brought into Bellator to highlight up and coming talent, but it wasn’t to be as “The Bull Shark” went on a 5-1 run inside the promotion including a current three-fight win streak that saw him defeat Tom English at Bellator 178. This fight has a ton of potential.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Daniel Pineda
Two of the most exciting and experienced fighters on the Bellator roster will do battle as Georgi Karakhanyan and Daniel Pineda look to make a title run in the featherweight division. With 21 finishes in 27 wins, it is clear that Georgi Karakhanyan looks for the finish in every fight. A 10-fight Bellator veteran the former WSOF featherweight champion has been a mainstay on the Bellator roster as the Armenian has been perfect to challenge the promotions up-and-comers who are looking to transition into contendership. A miraculous finisher Daniel Pineda has a phenomenal 100% finish ratio. In his return to Bellator Pineda suffered a split decision loss to newly established contender Emmanuel Sanchez. However he bounced back with a submission victory over Mark Dickman at Bellator 161. This will be a great fight for fans and a interesting one for the featherweight division.
There are still plenty of other reasons to tune into Bellator 182 as well. Israel-born submission specialist Noad Lahat will look to improve to 3-0 in Bellator and emerge as a featherweight contender, top middleweight Chris Honeycutt will take on BJJ specialist Kevin Casey as he tries to make a case for a title shot, and intriguing women’s featherweight battles in Sinead Kavanagh vs. Arlene Blencowe and Talita Nogueira vs. Amanda Bell will also highlight the action-packed evening of fights.
Bellator 182 will take place at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. The event will air live on Spike TV on August 25.