Bellator MMA is gearing up for a doubleheader weekend, with Bellator 202 taking place this Friday and Bellator 203 going down on Saturday. Bellator 202 is headlined with the promotion’s female featherweight champion Julia Budd taking on the undefeated Talita Nogueira. The co-main will see Bellator’s former bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas squaring off with the 18-4 Michael McDonald. The top of the Bellator 203 billing, from Rome, Italy will see a rematch of a Bellator 138 bout, when Patricio Freire defends his featherweight belt against Daniel Weichel for the second time. The co-main of Saturday night involves Italy’s own Alessio Sakara squaring off with Jamie Sloane. Bellator’s former welterweight king Andrey Koreshkov is also on the card, who is usually a blast to watch.
**Bellator 202 can be seen on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 8:00 P.M .ET. Bellator 203 will also be aired on the Paramount Network, but on Saturday and at 8:00 P.M. ET via tape delay.
Bellator 202 Main Card:
Julia Budd (11-2 MMA; 5-0 Bellator) vs. Talita Nogueira (7-0 MMA; 1-0): (W) Featherweight Title
Budd captured Bellator’s vacant featherweight title when she stopped Marlos Coenen back at Bellator 174, and then successfully defended her belt against Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 189 this past December. It has been eleven straight bouts since Budd has tasted defeat, with her last loss coming at the hands of Ronda Rousey in Strikeforce back in 2011. She’s physical, technically sound on the ground, and has just enough standup to not get picked apart. Are we in the Julia Budd era? After pulling out of three straight Bellator debuts, it took about two years for Talita Nogueira to finally make her first appearance in a Viacom cage. At Bellator 182, Nogueira choked out Amanda Bell in the first round for her first fight within the promotion. Now, she is challenging for the belt.
Eduardo Dantas (20-5 MMA; 10-2 Bellator) vs. Michael McDonald (18-4 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Bantamweight
Eduardo Dantas captured Bellator’s bantamweight belt twice, but recently relinquished his crown to Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 184 last October. Dantas has been a mainstay in the Bellator cage going on seven years now. He’s really known for his impeccable cardio and super-fluid technique, as not many 135’ers can mess with him on the feet. In his first bout back since dropping the belt, Dantas is tasked with getting past elite bantamweight Michael McDonald. McDonald posted a respectable 6-3 record under the UFC banner, and then successfully won his promotional debut by besting Peter Ligier in the main event at Bellator 191. Returning to elite competition, we will get the opportunity to see if McDonald can still run with the big dogs, and maybe even see if he’s ready to challenge for some Bellator gold.
Chris Honeycutt (10-2 MMA; 6-2-1 Bellator) vs. Leo Leite ( 10-1 MMA; 1-0 Bellator): Middleweight
After suffering his first career loss to Paul Bradley back in 2016, Honeycutt rallied to post up four consecutive wins, including the stopping of Kevin Casey at Bellator 182. In his last outing, Honeycutt ran into another hiccup, this one in the form of Rafael Lovato Jr, dropping a unanimous decision at Bellator 189 back in December. Looking to get back into the win column, Honeycutt is taking on Leo Leite. Leite came into Bellator with an undefeated 10-0 record, but that ‘0’ was done away with after being dealt Phil Davis for his promotional debut. Now that he’s not facing Davis, we might get a better feel for Leite’s skillset.
Valentin Moldavsky (7-1 MMA; 1-0 Bellator) vs. Ernest James (1-0 MMA/Bellator): Heavyweight
After going 3-1 in RIZIN FF, Moldavsky jumped ship to Bellator where he defeated Carl Seumanutafa at Bellator 181. Now sitting at 7-1, Moldavsky is facing the 1-0 Ernest James. James won his pro/Bellator debut last October by stopping Rashemm Jones in the first round. If these two fighters weren’t heavyweights, do you think they would be on the main card?
Bellator 203 Main Card:
Patricio Freire (26-4 MMA; 14-4 Bellator) vs. Daniel Weichel (39-9 MMA; 8-1 Bellator): Featherweight Title
Last April, Patricio Pitbull recaptured Bellator’s featherweight belt with a second round submission of Daniel Straus in their trilogy fight at Bellator 178. He got the belt back just in time to rematch Daniel Weichel. Weichel gave Pitbull all he could handle in the first round of their first fight in 2015, but Pitbull came out in round two and landed a sinister left hook that put Weichel out cold. Since then, Weichel has rebounded, defeating four-straight foes to earn himself another crack at the belt. How much will this rematch look like the first one, and will the outcome be any different?
Alessio Sakara (19-12-2 MMA; 2-1 Bellator) vs. Jamie Sloane (8-4 MMA; Bellator Debut): Light Heavyweight
Sakara has been fighting since 2002, with his first UFC taking place in 2005. Fast forward a decade and we find Sakara joined up with the Bellator roster, acting as their Italian draw for when the promotion travels to that side of the world. He was even given a title shot in his last bout, but Rafael Carvalho brutally dispatched him with an elbow in under 45 seconds. The 8-2 Jamie Sloane has been tasked with taking on the hometown fighter. Sloane has never been to a decision, so this one will more than likely end early.
Andrey Koreshkov (20-2 MMA; 11-2 Bellator) vs. Vaso Bakocevic (33-17-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight
Koreshkov won Bellator’s welterweight title by defeating Douglas Lima back in 2015, but gave the belt right back in his rematch with Lima just a year later. Koreshkov took out his frustrations of losing the belt on Chidi Njokuani at Bellator 182, TKO’ing the rangy striker in the first round. Now, Koreshkov is facing a true journeyman. The 33-17-1 Vaso Bakocevic seems to have fought all over the globe, except for Italy and the United States. Bakocevic has finished 25 of his 33 wins, but he’s also been finished in 12 out of his 17 losses. This could get ugly.
Rest of the card:
Will Fleury vs. Alen Amedovski – Middleweights
Michele Martignoni vs. Simone D’Anna – Bantamweights
Maxim Radu vs. Simone La Preziosa – Lightweights