Viacom’s brand of MMA kicks off tonight as the promotion makes its return to Boise, Idaho for Bellator 205. The featured matchup will see undefeated 11-0 prospect A.J. McKee Jr. lock horns with the 21-3 veteran John “Macapa” Teixeira. The co-main event for the night involves a high stakes middleweight matchup between the 8-0 Rafael Lovato Jr. and the 15-3 John Salter, with the winner moving themselves one step closer to a shot at the 185 pound strap.
Also on the card, the women’s flyweight division gets some shine when the 4-2 Veta Arteaga takes on the 2-1 Denise Kielholtz. Opening up the main card, the elder Pitbull brother, Patricky Freire, looks to extend his winning streak to four when he takes on longtime MMA warrior Roger Huerta. Take a closer look at these matchups below, and then travel further down the MMA rabbit hole by checking out The MMA Vivisection with Bloody Elbow’s own Zane Simon, Vic Rodriguez, and Eddie Mercado.
**Bellator 205 can be seen on the Paramount Network at 9:00 P.M. ET with the prelims streaming online at 7:00 P.M .ET.
AJ McKee Jr. (11-0 MMA/Bellator) vs. John Macapa (21-3-2 MMA/4-2 Bellator): Featherweight
Want to see the proper way to build a prospect? Take a look at the way Bellator MMA has built McKee from the ground up. They brought in the generational fighter at 0-0 and, instead of pitting him against another prospect (or feeding him right to the wolves at the top of the division) Bellator matched up McKee with rather appropriate opposition that gave him different looks without being too much too soon.
The first major step up in competition for McKee came in his last bout when he took on the UFC veteran Justin Lawrence at Bellator 197. McKee passed that test with flying colors, using his fundamental striking while making the most of his length to bust up Lawrence on the feet. Now comes the time for McKee to take another step up in competition, and with a win, he will solidify himself as one of the elites in Bellator’s featherweight division.
But, if he wants to look spectacular in a fight, then McKee might want to steer clear of John Macapa. With a record of 21-3-2, fans will be hard pressed to find someone who can claim to have steamrolled the Brazilian. The longtime veteran has made a career out of taking his opponents to the distance in sticky, back-and-forth affairs. Usually resulting in a decision, and often of the split persuasion.
Macapa has all of the tools necessary to thrive at the top of the division. He can strike, he can grapple, he wrestle. He does everything fairly well, which could be the reason he’s a tough out for just about everyone he’s ever faced. Having dropped back-to-back decisions to Daniel Weichel and then Pat Curran, Macapa is looking to avoid dropping three-straight and dish out the first ‘0’ of McKee’s young career.
Rafael Lovato Jr. (8-0 MMA/4-0 Bellator) vs. John Salter (15-3 MMA/5-0 Bellator): Middleweight
Rafael Lovato Jr. is well known in the competitive Jiu-Jitsu world as one of the greats. MMA fans who aren’t aware of how lethal this man is on the ground should go check out his IBJJF accolades. Since making his move into the sport of mixed martial arts, Lovato has amassed a perfect 8-0 record, with four of those bouts taking place under the Bellator banner. Of his eight professional MMA bouts, seven of them finished up inside of the distance and five of those were by submission.
In his last outing, Lovato made quick work of UFC veteran Gerald Harris, submitting him with a nasty armbar in less than 90 seconds. Lovato and Salter were actually slated to fight earlier this year. So, on the microphone, after beating Harris, Lovato requested the Salter fight as a way to move him closer to a title shot.
With a pro record of 15-3, John Salter has successfully eliminated each of his victims before the sounding of the final bell. Out of those 15 Ws, seven of them were knockouts – with the other eight being submissions. Salter has quietly strung together an impressive seven-fight run that includes familiar names such as Brandon Halsey, Kendall Grove, and Jason Radcliffe. During Salter’s succulent winning streak, only one of those matches made it to the second round.
So, it’s no secret that Salter is a straight killer. Typically, Salter likes to take his victims down to the ground before uncorking some devastating ground strikes, which usually nets him the win or opens up a window for a submission finish. The question is, can Salter execute that type of gameplan against someone in Lovato who is basically a Jiu-Jitsu god? Luckily, there’s only one way to find out!
Veta Arteaga (4-2 MMA/3-2 Bellator) vs. Denise Kielholtz (2-1 MMA/2-0 Bellator): (W) Flyweight
Veta Arteaga may only be 4-2 in her young MMA career, but she has already showed off her talents and true grit. Arteaga is known for her wars, whether it be against Anastasia Yankova, Brooke Mayo, or Emily Ducote. Five of her six bouts have gone the distance, with the remaining bout ending in a doctor stoppage with just 56 seconds remaining in the match. Her two losses came by way of split decision. So, if anyone feels like Arteaga won those matchups, then they can see how easily she could be undefeated.
Denise Kielholtz came to Bellator with a stout striking foundation, but won her promotional debut with a first-round armbar of Jessica Middleton at Bellator 188 last November. She followed up with a commanding decision victory over Petra Castkova, where she really let her punches & kicks go. Despite Arteaga owning the experience advantage and having fought a higher level of opposition, can Kielholtz find a way to get it done and remain undefeated in Bellator MMA?
Patricky Freire (19-8MMA/12-7 Bellator) vs. Roger Huerta (24-10-1 MMA/ 1-3 Bellator): Lightweight
After falling short in a vacant title fight with Michael Chandler back in 2016, Patricky Pitbull has been firing on all cylinders. On the strength of his explosive counter punching skills, Pitbull has pieced together a three-fight winning streak – besting the likes of Josh Thomson, Ben Henderson, and Derek Campos. Riding a wave of consistency, Pitbull has the opportunity to win four-straight fights for the first time in his Bellator career – dating back to his promotional debut at Bellator 36 in 2011. If Pitbull keeps up with his winning ways, he might find himself back in a title fight.
Roger Huerta made his return to Bellator following seven bouts outside of the promotion. Upon his return, Huerta was tasked with taking on fellow MMA veteran Ben Henderson, and fell short to a second round guillotine. Huerta is known for his love of banging it out, but he has also hit submissions if they just so happen to present themselves. Go check out his kneebar victory over Chad Hinton from Bellator 13 in 2010. Tonight fans will find out if the veteran in Huerta have enough left to hang with the top of the division.
- Kyle Frost vs. David Rangel: Welterweight
- Joe Aguirre vs. Stephen Stirewalt: Bantamweight
- Vince Morales vs. Justin Hugo: Bantamweight
- Johnny Nunez vs. Josh Wick: Lightweight
- Adam Borics vs. Josenaldo Silva: Featherweight
- SilvaSua Tuani vs. Emillio Trevino: Light Heavyweight
- Bryce Edminister vs. Leon Taylor: Featherweight
- Nathan Stolen vs. Andrew Cruz: Featherweight
- Steve Mowry vs. Ben Moa: Heavyweight
- Jarod Trice vs. Sean Powers: 190 pounds