Previewing and predicting the entire Bellator 294 main card.
Bellator MMA is back and it returns with a huge double-header this weekend. The first of the two events, Bellator 294, takes places this Friday, April 21, live from the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, HI with a high-stakes rematch headlining the event. Unlike during their first encounter, this one has the women's flyweight title on the line.
This event is unique in the sense that the crowd will be filled by the military and first responders as Bellator thanks those who put their lives at risks by putting on a card that promises to wow once the opening bell sounds.
As the event kicks off an action-packed weekends of fights, let's get into previewing and predicting the Bellator 294 main card.
*All odds are from DraftKings.com.
Predictions and odds for Bellator 294: Liz Carmouche vs. DeAnna Bennett 2
Levan Chokheli (-175) vs. Michael Lombardo (+150)
A welterweight scrap kicks off the main card for this event and it is definitely not an easy one to pick. Things have not gone like they would've hoped for either man in their respective early Bellator careers. Levan Chokheli (11-2 (1NC)) came into the promotion as an undefeated prospect but found the increased level of competition a little bit too much as he lost his Bellator debut back in 2021.
He has since corrected that wrong but is still yet to string consecutive victories in the promotion. The same can be said about his opponent Michael Lombardo (13-3 (1NC)). Fighting out of legendary MMA gym American Top Team, the 33 year old also lost his Bellator debut before picking up a win.
Both men must pick up a victory to set their feet in the promotion. Chokheli has proven to have devastating power, winning nine of his 11 by KO. Saying that, Lombardo is yet to be stopped in his career and it will likely go the distance. Give me the slight favorite to pick up a tough win in an entertaining first match.
Prediction: Levan Chokheli by decision
Danny Sabatello (-490) vs. Marcos Breno (+390)
The man who has seemingly become one of the biggest 'heels' in Bellator, Danny Sabatello (13-2) is back in action following his bantamweight grand-prix semi-final loss to current interim champion Raufeon Stots. He faces a man who is still unknown in the Bellator scene in Marcos Breno (15-2), however, the worst things Sabatello can do is overlook his opponent.
Sure, Sabatello is a huge favorite to win. In fact, he is the biggest favorite on the whole main card and it would be a huge shock if he were to lose to an unranked opponent given Sabatello sits at no.5 in the 135-pound rankings. His opponent does have one thing Sabatello doesn't and that is that he has everything to gain and little to lose.
Breno is an accomplished finisher, winning 13 of his 15 bouts inside the distance at an almost even split of 8 KOs and 5 submissions. He could prove to be a problem off his back if Sabatello decides to use his elite wrestling. Despite this, I'm still picking Sabatello. Not only does he have much more experience in terms of fighting high-level talent but he is considerably larger than his opponent, having a 5 inch height advantage. His size plus wrestling should prove to be the decisive factor for the man called 'The Italian Gangster'.
Prediction: Danny Sabatello by decision
Arlene Blencowe (+160) vs. Sara McMann (-190)
A classic striker vs. grappler matchup with either woman having lots to gain and lose from the fight, this clash is set to be one of the most intriguing ones on the night. Bellator legend Arlene Blencowe (15-9) welcomes former UFC bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann (13-6) to Bellator for what could potentially be a featherweight title eliminator.
With neither fighter having stepped into the cage in over a year, it will be interesting to see if there is any ring rust for either one. Blencowe is coming off a loss to Cris Cyborg for the title and the boxer won't have it any easier against the Olympic wrestling silver medalist.
Whilst McMann has never fought at 145 pounds, I believe that her world class wrestling can carry her to a victory. In fact, I believe McMann can take advantage of Blencowe's poor submission defense and pick up a signature win in her Bellator debut, setting her up for a title shot.
Prediction: Sara McMann by submission
Co-main event: Timothy Johnson (+190) vs. Said Sowma (-255)
Much like all heavyweight clashes, it doesn't truly matter the type of form the fighters are in, anything could happen at anytime. Whether it is an unreal knockout or even a sneaky submission, Bellator's heavyweights have always put on a show and its likely that trend will continue when veteran Timothy Johnson (15-9) takes on Said Sowma (8-4).
Both men will be desperate to pick up a win. Johnson comes into it on a three-fight skid, including losing his last two by KO, and has not competed for over a year. His opponent has faced a harsher reality, losing his last two fights by split decision, although his Bellator career has been nothing to write home about, sitting at an unimpressive 2-3.
It's hard to pick which fighter will be able to come out of their slump. I'm tempted to pick Johnson for his experience but his chin has been so suspect in recent times, I expect Sowma to put himself back in the winning column.
Prediction: Said Sowma by KO/TKO
Main event for the women's flyweight title: Liz Carmouche (-450) vs. DeAnna Bennett (+360)
A rematch that is three years in the making, we will finally get to see Liz Carmouche (18-7) defend her belt against the woman she defeated in her Bellator debut, DeAnna Bennett (13-7). In fact, both women were making their promotional debuts when Carmouche submitted Bennett in the final round of their first encounter.
Three years later and these two have become mainstays in Bellator's flyweight division. Carmouche has yet to taste defeat in the promotion, including two devastating finishes of former champion Juliana Velazquez in a row to first win the title and then defend it. She's also managed to finish four of her five victories, showing exactly why she is considered the second best pound-for-pound women's fighter in Bellator.
It's going to be tough fight for Bennett from the get go and we first have to see if she wins the battle on the scales. She's failed to make the 125 pound threshold twice, although her last weight-miss was back in 2021. Whilst I do see the appeal behind this rematch, I believe Carmouche gets it done in convincing fashion to retain her belt.
Prediction: Liz Carmouche by KO/TKO