Here’s the scoop for Saturday’s Bellator 198 undercard, where Fedor Emelianenko faces Frank Mir in the heavyweight Grand Prix main event.
Bellator 198 is happening this Saturday night. The marquee matchup is a Grand Prix bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir, with the winner advancing in the heavyweight tournament. That fight will be covered in its own post, so be on the lookout for that over at Bloody Elbow. In the meantime, here’s a look at this Saturday’s undercard, starting with the co-main event between Emmanuel Sanchez and Sam Sicilia.
Also on the main card, Neiman Gracie puts his undefeated record on the line as he takes on 10-3 Bellator newcomer Javier Torres. Another unblemished record sways in the balance as the 7-0 Rafael Lovato Jr. locks horns with short notice replacement Gerald Harris. UFC veteran Harris is stepping in for John Salter, who wasn’t medically cleared to compete. Opening up the main card, BJJ guru Dillon Danis makes his professional debut by taking on the 2-4 Kyle Walker.
Saturday’s Bellator 198 can be seen on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 8:00 P.M. ET.
Emmanuel Sanchez (16-3 MMA; 8-2 Bellator) vs. Sam Sicilia (15-8 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Featherweight
Emmanuel Sanchez has an endless gas tank. Seriously, can anyone recall a single moment in his 19-fight career in which the Roufusport product has shown serious signs of fatigue? Sanchez is the type of fighter to come right at you with a volume-heavy striking attack, complete with some rather sound defense to boot. On top of his polished stand-up skills, he has proven that he’s capable of grappling with anyone – evident by his submission win over the promotion’s former featherweight king Daniel Straus at Bellator 184 last October. Sanchez has knocked off former champs in his last two outings, and a win over a UFC vet like Sicilia ought to get him into a title shot conversation.
Sam Sicilia is set to make his sophomore appearance under the Bellator Banner following his unanimous decision win over Bellator’s former bantamweight champ Marcos Galvao at Bellator 189. Sicilia is a former UFC competitor, known for carrying some serious thunder in his right hand. Having gone 5-7 in his past 12 bouts, the promotional switch could be exactly what Sicilia needs to have a career resurgence.
Neiman Gracie (7-0 MMA; 5-0 Bellator) vs. Javier Torres (10-3 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight
With the last name of Gracie, you better be able to bring it on the mat, and that’s exactly what Neiman Gracie does. Rocking a perfect 7-0 record, Gracie has submitted six of his seven victims, with the lone decision win coming against BJJ black belt Roger Carroll. Bellator 198 might start out in Illinois, but there’s good chance it ends up in Sub City.
Javier Torres sports a 10-3 pro record and has never been submitted. If he wants to remain sub-free then he must do everything within his power to remain on the feet. If Torres can keep it standing, then perhaps he will be the first man to dish out a loss to Gracie. Hey, it could happen?
Rafael Lovato Jr. (7-0 MMA; 3-0 Bellator) vs. Gerald Harris (25-5 MMA; Bellator Debut): Middleweight
Rafael Lovato Jr. holds a spotless 7-0 record, and although he came to Bellator under the guise of an impeccable grappler, he has proven that his stand-up is nothing to sleep on. From finishing his promotional debut with strikes in a brief 13 seconds, to clipping Chris Honeycutt early with a head kick to set the tone, Lovato has showcased a well versed game that has him on an expedited trip to the top of the division.
Gerald Harris is filling in on short notice to make his promotional debut. You might remember Harris from his stint on TUF 7, or perhaps from his actual run inside of the UFC where he went 3-1, finishing the likes of David Branch by epic slam, and knocking out the man he is replacing on Saturday, John Salter. Currently riding a four-fight winning streak, Harris will be looking to ride his wave of momentum into Saturday, and pull from his wealth of experience to dish out the first ‘L’ of Lovato’s career. Honestly, Harris seems like the perfect replacement for Salter.
Dillon Danis (Pro/Bellator Debut) vs. Kyle Walker (2-4 MMA; Bellator Debut): Catchweight of 175 pounds
Marcelo Garcia BJJ black belt Dillon Danis makes his professional MMA debut this Saturday night. On top of taking the jits world by storm and competing at the highest levels, MMA fans might remember Danis being hired by Conor McGregor to help him out for his Nate Diaz rematch. Will the grappling credentials of Danis translate into a fruitful MMA career?
Kyle Walker may have an ugly record of 2-4 in his career, but at least he does have some pro MMA experience? Walker gets a huge opportunity here to make a name for himself by derailing the Danis hype train, but you better believe he will need to remain vertical to do so.