Predicting the outcome of every Bellator 293 main card fight...
One of the world's biggest MMA promotions returns this Friday, March 31 live from the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California with Bellator 293. The main card is filled with matchups that could promise shakeups in the rankings, as well as the opportunity to solidify a number 1 contender's status for the time being.
The main event sees two heavyweight juggernauts slug it out when the no.4 ranked Marcelo Glom takes on the no.7 ranked Daniel James in a fight that is very unlikely to go the distance. The co-main event sees former UFC bantamweight title challenger and current no.1 ranked featherweight Cat Zingano (13-4) defend her place in the rankings against the up-and-coming no.4 ranked Leah McCourt (7-2).
With a fun card filled with potential storylines for the future, it's time to give it my best shot at predicting the full Bellator 293 main card.
Bellator 293: Marcelo Golm vs. Daniel James predictions & odds*
Sullivan Culley (-275) vs. Luke Trainer (+200)
A pair of light heavyweight prospects will open up the card this Friday when Sullivan Culley (5-0) meets British fighter Luke Trainer (6-1) to solidify their spot in the 205-pound rankings. Culley could potentially be the next A.J. McKee given that he's fought his whole professional career under Bellator. A man who possesses a 100 percent finishing rate, all by knockout and in the first round, is sure to bring excitement to the Bellator cage but his opponent will give it his all to prevent Culley's rise to stardom.
The 6 foot 6 Luke Trainer also sports a 100 percent finishing rate throughout his career, winning three by KO and three by submission, but will face the biggest test in his young career. With both fighters still in their twenties, a loss shouldn't affect either one too much but it seems that Trainer will be just a step behind the ground and pound machine of Culley, who keeps his 100 percent finishing streak intact.
Prediction: Sullivan Culley by KO/TKO (Round 2)
Jaleel Wills (-150) vs. Rustam Khabilov (+110)
The odds are basically at 'pick'em' value and it is not a surprise to see this welterweight clash split the bookies. Jaleel Wills (16-4) welcomes UFC veteran Rustam Khabilov (24-4) to make his Bellator debut after he was cut from the UFC. Despite being released from MMA's leading promotion, Khabilov had a very respectable record of 10-3 in the promotion, including a win over Jorge Masvidal back in 2013.
It's clear that Khabilov was cut because he simply wasn't exciting enough. With a background in Russian sambo, he's become a decision machine by pinning his opponents but never truly looking for the finish. Say what you want about his style, it's won him many fights and he'll look to continue to do the same this Friday. Wills has good takedown defense but the high pressure from Khabilov will prove to be too much for him to handle.
Prediction: Rustam Khabilov by unanimous decision
John Salter (+240) vs. Aaron Jeffery (-350)
Perhaps the fight hardcore fans are looking forward to the most, Bellator veteran John Salter (18-6) clashes against rising prospect Aaron Jeffery (13-3) in the featured middleweight bout of the night. A classic grappler versus striker matchup, Salter comes into the fight with a Bellator middleweight record of six wins by submission, whilst his opponent has shown that he has extremely heavy hands whilst riding a three fight win streak.
It is likely that whoever comes out on top will be a fight or two away from facing champion Johnny Eblen from the title, and unfortunately for the 38 year old Salter, it seems his final chance at a shot will be gone. Jeffery's hands are too much of a risk even for a man with seven KO victories himself, and he will announce himself to the rest of the 185 pound division with a statement win.
Prediction: Aaron Jeffery by KO (Round 1)
Co-main event: Cat Zingano (-350) vs. Leah McCourt (+240)
A clear number 1 contender's fight, former UFC title challenger and current no.1 ranked women's featherweight Cat Zingano (13-4) will have her hands full when she meets the ascending Leah McCourt (7-2) in the co-main event. Both women are looking for their first Bellator title shot and a victory here will almost guarantee a matchup against champion Cris Cyborg.
Zingano has the experience, resume and versatile skillset to be a danger for any top contender. The likes of Amanda Nunes, Miesha Tate and Raquel Pennington have all faced the wrath of Zingano and if anyone were to dethrone Cyborg, it is not a bad shout to say Zingano will be the one to do it. She first has to get past an opponent with a very similar skillset in Leah McCourt.
Another woman with a notable victory in her resume, being the only one who has defeated the UFC's Manon Fiorot, McCourt brings a black belt in jiu-jitsu and judo to the table. With both fighters looking to control the other, it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top from the grappling exchanges. I'm going to go for a bit of an upset here and picking McCourt. The stalemate to take each other down will turn it into a kickboxing match, where I see the McCourt's more active pace being the difference maker.
Prediction: Leah McCourt by unanimous decision
Main event: Marcelo Glom (-165) vs. Daniel James (+120)
An exhilarating main event closes out what I predict to be a fairly fun card all throughout. The no. 4 ranked heavyweight Marcelo Glom (10-3) will look to extend his four-fight win streak and 100 percent finishing rate when he faces off against veteran and no. 7 ranked Daniel James (14-6-1) in a main event that won't need the judges' scorecards.
Whilst not a 100 percent finishing rate, James has won 13 of his 14 victories by finish, showcasing powerful hands en route to 10 knockout wins. He also comes into the clash riding a four-fight win streak and a victory for either men will either catapult them into a fight with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader or keep them in the thick of things for a title shot. With both men being extremely dangerous, and this only being a three round main event, I can see Glom try to wear on James to neutralize the latter's power. After holding and wearing him down for a round, Glom will snatch the neck and be one step closer to becoming a world champion.
Prediction: Marcelo Glom by submission (Round 2)
*All odds can be found on DraftKings.com