Bellator Champions Prediction, Class of 2022

History teaches us to expect the unexpected in mixed martial arts, especially at the highest levels. The nine men and women currently in possession of the Bellator MMA Gold will enter their respective 2022 campaigns with a sense of anticipation. Some will be rewarded with extended title reigns while others will experience very public drops from grace. This is the nature of the beast in a sport where chaos and uproar lurk around every corner. Need proof? Four of the nine undisputed championships have changed hands at least once in 2021. Who will be the last men and women standing when the calendar moves to 2023? A look at the crystal ball:

Moldavsky tries to clinch fame from the get-go, as he challenges Ryan Bader to headliner Bellator 273 on Jan. 29 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. There, the two men will unify the heavyweight crown of the promotion. At just 29, Moldavsky entered the cage on a career-best six-game winning streak that now spans more than five years. Fedor Protégé Emelianenko won the interim championship at Bellator 261, where he claimed a five-round unanimous decision over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Timothy Johnson on June 25.

Long considered a future champion, Anderson has only one obstacle to overcome. The winner of Season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter” will face reigning 205-pound defending champion Vadim Nemkov in the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix final in the first half of 2022. To the winner the undisputed light heavyweight championship returns. Anderson has won three straight victories since joining the Bellator roster as a big-price free agent just over a year ago. He last fought on October 16, when he knocked out the aforementioned Bader just 51 seconds away from their Grand Prix semi-final at the Bellator 268.

Mousasi is perhaps Bellator’s most complete payroll fighter, regardless of weight. “The Dreamcatcher” will put his middleweight championship on the line when it entertains Team USA’s unbeaten Austin Vanderford at the Bellator 275 main event on February 25 in Dublin. Mousasi, 36, has won 11 of his last 12 fights, a controversial majority decision against Rafael Lovato Jr. in June 2019, his only misstep. He last competed at the Bellator 264, where he beat John Salter with punches in the third round of their August 13 meeting.

The record speaks for itself: 26-0. After rising to the top of the Bellator welterweight division, the undefeated Amosov must now prove he can stay there. The Ukrainian bully ended his 170-pound championship run on June 11, when he took a five-round unanimous decision from Douglas Lima under the Bellator 260 marquee. Wins over Gerald Harris, Erick Silva, David Rickels, Ed Ruth, Mark Lemminger and Logan Storley preceded his title win over Lima. Although not yet official, Amosov plans to defend his welterweight crown against Michael Page in London in the second quarter of 2022.

Nurmagomedov looks like the next potential star in Russia’s pipeline at the American Kickboxing Academy. The 23-year-old leading prospect got off to a perfect 14-0 start, with 12 of his wins via knockout, technical knockout or submission. Nurmagomedov last fought on October 23, when he submitted Patrik Pietila with a strangulation at 4:06 am in the first round of their clash with the Bellator 269. Although he does not yet have a clear path to the Reigning lightweight title holder Patricky Freire, he’s climbed into the Top 5 and could go faster than expected with one or two more impressive performances. The situation remains fluid in a division where the champion seems more vulnerable than most.

Otherworldly talents like McKee only show up once in a while. The Long Beach, Calif., Native improved to 18-0 in his only appearance in 2021 – a star submission from Patricio Freire in the main event of the Bellator 263 which brought with him the undisputed weight championship. feathers on July 31. McKee had the Brazilian badly injured with a header before closing the distance and briefly smother him unconscious with a 1:57 guillotine in the first round. A rematch with “Pitbull” numbers to be on the role of McKee as soon as possible, with challengers like Adam Borics and Mads Burnell also in the queue. “The Mercenary” will be favored in any fight at 145 pounds for the foreseeable future.

Pettis has as much momentum as any Bellator champion right now. The current bantamweight title holder was set to be dethroned on December 3 and then created the ‘Knockout of the Year’ when he equalized Kyoji Horiguchi with a perfectly synchronized backfist in the fourth round of their lead. Bellator 272. This might not be the last time the two men face each other inside the cage. Nonetheless, Pettis, at the age of 28, appears to be a fully trained mixed martial artist with few holes to tap. Could Roufusport teammate Raufeon Stots be considered the next No.1 competitor at 135 pounds?

Women’s Featherweight: Cris Cyborg

There were concerns that Cyborg’s knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in December 2018 could mark the end of her historic 145-pound reign of domination. Bad luck for the women who populate the Bellator featherweight division. Cyborg has since pieced together a five-game winning streak, with the last four of those wins coming in the promotion led by Scott Coker. While that might not represent a complete rebirth, Justino certainly looks like his old self again. She closed her 2021 campaign in style on November 12, when she attacked Sinead Kavanagh with punches in the first round of their Bellator 271 main event and retained the women’s featherweight championship.

Velasquez reached the top of the flyweight just over a year ago, when she upset Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in a five-round unanimous decision and walked away with championship gold strapped to her waist . Team undefeated product Nogueira played a lightweight program in 2021, successfully defending the 125-pound title in a split verdict against Denise Kielholtz in headlining at Bellator 262 on July 16. The fight was much more competitive than expected, as Velasquez struggled to cope with the Dutch judoka’s sustained attack on her legs and body. Despite everything, she persevered. Macfarlane, Kielholtz, Liz Carmouche and Kana Watanabe appear to be Velasquez’s most pressing threats going forward.

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