Viacom’s version of MMA hops back across the pond today for Bellator 200 in London, England. The marquee matchup was supposed to be Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson, but an unfortunate injury forced Cro Cop to withdraw, and no replacement opponent was found for Nelson. The new main event will see Rafael Carvalho try and defend his middleweight belt against MMA mainstay Gegard Mousasi. The co-main slot goes to Michael Page vs. David Rickels, with the undefeated Page taking his first real major step up in competition.
Also on the card, British reality TV star Alex Chalmers, from Jersey Shore spin off Geordie Shore, will be taking on the 4-6 Ash Griffiths. Opening up the main card, undefeated women’s flyweight Anastasia Yankova, from Russia, takes on the 9-3 veteran Kate Jackson. In a notable preliminary bout, the 25-3 Anatoly Tokov takes on Vladimir Filipovic in the middleweight division. For an in-depth breakdown of each Bellator 200 tilt, check out The MMA Vivisection with Bloody Elbow’s own Eddie Mercado and Vic Rodriguez.
**Bellator 200 can be seen on the dreaded tape delay in the U.S. on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET, but the prelims will be streaming online at 12:30 P.M .ET. The main card will be live in the U.K. at 9 P.M. BST on 5Spike.
Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA; 6-0 Bellator) vs. Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Middleweight Title
Rafael Carvalho captured Bellator’s middleweight title by stopping Brandon Halsey back in October of 2015. Since then, Carvalho has defended his crown three times, twice against Melvin Manhoef, one of them being a head kick knockout, and then most recently knocking out Alessio Sakara at Bellator 190. Carvalho is known for his sharp shooting Muay Thai style, complete with heavy punches, rib cracking kicks, and brutal clinch knees alike. There is no doubting the finishing ability of Carvalho, as he has stopped 12 of his 15 victims, all by knockout.
Considering that his opposition has been against fighters in the twilight of their careers over the past two and a half years, it might be fair to say that Carvalho hasn’t exactly been fighting against the top of the food chain. No matter how you slice it, locking horns with Gegard Mousasi is a major step up in competition. Carvalho dropped his professional debut back in 2011, but hasn’t tasted defeat since. Will he be able to handle facing a cream of the crop veteran in Mousasi, or will he be relinquishing his crown in London?
Gegard Mousasi has been a world class fighter for some time now, having debuted back in April of 2003. After departing from the UFC last year following his TKO of Chris Weidman, he moved over to Bellator as a free agent to reunite with promotional front man Scott Coker, who Mousasi worked with in his Strikeforce days. In his first bout with the new company, Mousasi picked up a unanimous decision over Alexander Shlemenko, but not before overcoming a bit of adversity. One of Mousasi’s eyes swelled completely shut during the opening round, forcing him to fight at a disadvantage for the remainder of the bout.
Mousasi has always been known for his calm demeanor, conservative kickboxing, and above average ground game. His knack for winning is no secret either, sporting a 43-6-2 record, which is wildly incredible mind you. Mousasi has also finished 36 of those 43 wins, so Carvalho is not the only guy that can close the show here. His fight I.Q. is through the roof and Mousasi is facing someone with much less experience and against much lesser opposition. Carvalho finished Melvin Manhoef in 2017; Mousasi finished him in 2008. Can Mousasi avoid getting caught long enough to capture Bellator gold?
Michael Page (12-0 MMA; 8-0 Bellator) vs. David Rickels (19-4-2 MMA; 13-4-2 Bellator): Welterweight
MVP burst onto the Bellator scene with a flashy sharp shooting style that has racked him up several highlight reel knockouts, including that time when he fractured the skull of Cyborg Santos with a bodacious flying knee. Usually, Page puts on quite the show for the crowd, complete with dance moves and memorable moments, but such wasn’t the case in his last fight, laying an egg against his most notable opponent thus far, Fernando Gonzalez.
In a rather forgettable bout, Page and Gonzalez basically stared at each other for the bulk of three rounds, even causing the referee to call a timeout at one point to address the lack of action. Page ended up wining a split decision, but one judge did give Gonzalez a score of 30-27. Taking a step up in competition, Page is now faced with a caveman, who unlike Gonzalez, is almost guaranteed to come forward. Will Page be adding to his highlight reel in front of a home crowd, or will he fail to make it through the gatekeeper to the elite that is David Rickels?
David Rickels’ last loss was to Michael Chandler back in November of 2015. Okay, so he got dusted by Melvin Guillard in July of 2016, but it was changed to a no contest due to Guillard and a doping violation. Be that as it may, Rickels is a seasoned veteran that has shared the cage with some elite competition. Omitting Guillard, Rickels has really only lost to Patricky Freire and Michael Chandler twice, and there really is no shame in that. Nobody else has really gotten through “The Caveman,” which is what makes this matchup with MVP so compelling.
Rickels is fresh off of defeating a prospect in Adam Piccolotti this past December, and now he is tasked with teaching another prospect a lesson. Traditionally, up and comers haven’t done particularly well with the brute aggression of Rickels. He hits reasonably hard, can take a punch, and is beyond down to go for a takedown to get off some ground and pound. The knock on Rickels is that his aggression can often backfire and leave him open to counter strikes. With the way that MVP fights, if he is going to finish Rickels, then it’s probably going to be a sharp shooting counter. Will Rickels be able to take MVP to school, or will Page pass through the gate and prove that he is one of the elites?
Phil Davis (18-4 MMA; 5-1 Bellator) vs. Linton Vassell (19-6 MMA: 7-3 Bellator): Light Heavyweight
The 18-4 Phil Davis lost his light heavyweight title to Ryan Bader at Bellator NYC, back in June of last year. Getting back into the win column, Davis used his wrestling in reverse to pull off a unanimous decision win over the then undefeated Leo Leite. Now sitting at 18-4, Davis is on a quest to get back into title contention, and is now taking on the likes of Linton Vassell. With a NCAA Div-I collegiate wrestling background, on top of never having been submitted, Davis will hold a sizable advantage over his opponent in the grappling department. This is kind of a big deal because the grappling realm is where Vassell typically thrives.
Linton Vassell put together a three fight winning streak, out-grappling Emanuel Newton, Francis Carmont, and Liam McGeary to earn a shot at the light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader. Ryan Bader was/is a much, much better wrestler and handily dispatched Vassell, stopping him with ground strikes in the second round. Just like Bader, Phil Davis is a top shelf wrestler, so if the takedown will be completely unavailable, then what will be Vassell’s path to victory? His standup game isn’t exactly world renowned, and kickboxing Phil Davis is quite reserved on the feet. Can Vassell generate something extra from the home crowd to pull off an upset?
Aaron Chalmers (3-0 MMA; Bellator Debut) vs. Ash Griffiths (4-6 MMA; 0-1 Bellator): Catchweight of 163 pounds
Geordie Shore reality TV star Alex Chalmers is set for his fourth professional bout, having already ran through three opponents, each in the first round. All three of those fights took place in BAMMA, so this will be Chalmers’ first go under the Bellator banner. The 4-6 Ash Griffiths has been tasked with taking on the TV star. Griffiths doesn’t exactly win a lot, and has been finished in each of his six losses. Has he Griffiths been cast as the sacrificial lamb?
Anastasia Yankova (5-0 MMA: 3-0 Bellator) vs. Kate Jackson (9-3-1 MMA; 1-1 Bellator): (W) Flyweight
The 5-0 undefeated Russian prospect, Anastasia Yankova, is set for her fourth bout with the Bellator promotion. Yankova has shown a passion for coming forward behind her strikes, but is also more than willing to clinch up and work a takedown of her own. The time has come for Yankova to take a step up in competition, as she now faces someone who has already shared the cage with some stiff opposition. Will Yankova’s aggression be enough to compensate for her lack of experience?
We first saw Kate Jackson back on the TUF 23 show, beating Irene Cabello and Ashley Yoder, but losing to season winner Tatiana Suarez. Jackson currently sits 1-1 with Bellator, picking up a TKO win over Colleen Schneider, but then dropping a decision to Valerie Letourneau this past December. Having already faced some pretty legit competition, will Jackson pull out some veteran moves to dish out the first ‘L’ of Yankova’s young career?
Anatoly Tokov vs. Vladimir Filipovic
Daniel Crawford vs. Pedro Carvalho
Charlie Ward vs. Martin Hudson
Kevin Fryer vs. Costello Van Steenis
Charlie Leary vs. Tom Green
Kent Kauppinen vs. Walter Gahadza
Jahreau Shephard vs. Marcin Zywica
Mike Ekundayo vs. Tom Mearns
Amir Albazi vs. Iurie Bejenari