Bellator MMA unveils fighter rankings, Pitbull, Cyborg on top of list

The inaugural BELLATOR MMA™ Fighter Rankings have officially been unveiled, following the tabulation of votes submitted by a 17-member media panel.

Current BELLATOR MMA Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Patricio “Pitbull” sits atop the men’s pound-for-pound list, while featherweight women’s titleholder Cris “Cyborg” was unanimously voted No. 1 in the women’s pound-for-pound list.

“Pitbull” takes on the No. 2-ranked featherweight Emmanuel Sanchez at BELLATOR MMA 255: Pitbull vs. Sanchez 2 this Friday, April 2, in the promotion’s first-ever event on SHOWTIME® at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

BELLATOR also is revealing the amount of first place votes each athlete has earned in their division. This is represented with an (*) in the below charts. Please note, champions of each weight class will be automatically assigned to the Champions slot atop the rankings and do not receive votes within their division.

Please click here to view the rankings at BELLATOR.com.

MEN’S POUND-FOR-POUND

1. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

2. Vadim Nemkov (12-2)

3. Gegard Mousasi (47-7-2)

4. Ryan Bader (27-6)

5. Juan Archuleta (25-2)

6. Douglas Lima (32-8)

7. AJ McKee (17-0)

8. Phil Davis (22-5)

9. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4)

10. Corey Anderson (14-5)

WOMEN’S POUND-FOR-POUND

1. Cris Cyborg (23-2)

2. Juliana Velasquez (11-0)

3. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1)

4. Julia Budd (14-3)

5. Arlene Blencowe (13-8)

6. Denise Kielholtz (6-2)

7. Liz Carmouche (14-7)

8. Cat Zingano (11-4)

9. Alejandra Lara (9-3)

10. Leslie Smith (12-8-1)

MEN’S HEAVYWEIGHT

C. Ryan Bader (27-6)

1. Timothy Johnson (15-6) – 13*

2. Cheick Kongo (30-11-2)

3. Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) – 3*

4. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6)

5. Linton Vassell (20-8)

6. Tyrell Fortune (9-1) – 1*

7. Steven Mowry (8-0)

8. Matt Mitrione (13-8)

9. Sergei Kharitonov (32-8)

10. Javy Ayala (11-8)

MEN’S LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

C. Vadim Nemkov (12-2)

1. Ryan Bader (27-6) – 11*

2. Phil Davis (22-5) – 2*

3. Corey Anderson (14-5) – 4*

4. Lyoto Machida (26-10)

5. Julius Anglickas (9-1)

6. Grant Neal (5-0)

7. Christian Edwards (4-0)

8. Tyree Fortune (5-0)

9. Melvin Manhoef (32-15-1)

10. Alex Polizzi (7-1)

MEN’S MIDDLEWEIGHT

C. Gegard Mousasi (47-7-2)

1. John Salter (18-4) – 10*

2. Anatoly Tokov (29-2) – 5*

3. Austin Vanderford (10-0) – 1*

4. Fabian Edwards (9-1)

5. Costello van Steenis (13-2)

6. Johnny Eblen (7-0)

7. Charlie Ward (9-4)

8. Mike Shipman (14-3)

9. Romero Cotton (5-0)

10. Ed Ruth (8-3)

MEN’S WELTERWEIGHT

C. Douglas Lima (32-8)

1. Michael Page (18-1) – 8*

2. Yaroslav Amosov (25-0) – 6*

3. Neiman Gracie (10-1) – 3*

4. Logan Storley (11-1)

5. Derek Anderson (17-3)

6. Jason Jackson (13-4)

7. Joey Davis (8-0)

8. Sabah Homasi (15-8)

9. Oliver Enkamp (10-2)

10. Jaleel Willis (14-2)

MEN’S LIGHTWEIGHT

C. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

1. Brent Primus (10-1) – 12*

2. Patricky Pitbull (23-9) – 3*

3. Goiti Yamauchi (25-4) – 1*

4. Benson Henderson (28-10) – 1*

5. Sidney Outlaw (15-4)

6. Myles Jury (19-5)

7. Adam Piccolotti (12-4)

8. Alfie Davis (14-3)

9. Aviv Gozali (5-0)

10. Georgi Karakhanyan (30-11-1)

MEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT

C. Patricio Pitbull (31-4)

1. AJ McKee (17-0) – 13*

2. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4) – 4*

3. Adam Borics (16-1)

4. Pedro Carvalho (11-4)

5. Daniel Weichel (40-12)

6. Aaron Pico (7-3)

7. Jay Jay Wilson (7-0)

8. Jeremy Kennedy (16-2)

9. Tywan Claxton (6-2)

10. Mads Burnell (14-3)

MEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT

C. Juan Archuleta (25-2)

1. Sergio Pettis (20-5) – 10*

2. Patchy Mix (13-1) – 4*

3. Raufeon Stots (15-1) – 1*

4. James Gallagher (11-1)

5. Magomed Magomedov (17-1) – 2*

6. Leandro Higo (20-5)

7. Josh Hill (20-3)

8. Cass Bell (5-1)

9. Frans Mlambo (9-5)

10. Jornel Lugo (5-0)

WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT

C. Cris Cyborg (23-2)

1. Julia Budd (14-3) – 16*

2. Arlene Blencowe (13-8)

3. Cat Zingano (11-4)

4. Leslie Smith (12-8-1) – 1*

5. Sinead Kavanagh (7-4)

6. Janay Harding (6-4)

7. Leah McCourt (4-1)

8. Amanda Bell (7-7)

9. Olga Rubin (6-2)

10. Jessy Miele (9-5)

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT

C. Juliana Velasquez (11-0)

1. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-1) – 16*

2. Liz Carmouche (14-7)

3. Denise Kielholtz (6-2) – 1*

4. Alejandra Lara (9-3)

5. Kana Watanabe (9-0-1)

6. Kate Jackson (11-5-1)

7. Veta Arteaga (5-4)

8. Mandy Bohm (7-0)

9. Valerie Loureda (3-0)

10. Bruna Ellen (5-3)

(*) denotes first place votes received.

Bandejas-Pettis headline Bellator card on 7/24 in Connecticut

Bellator MMA returns to action for the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, bringing the sports world to a standstill. Next Friday, July 24 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Bellator will deliver an exciting card headlined by two of the bantamweight division’s top contenders, as Ricky Bandejas (13-3) faces Sergio Pettis (19-5) in a three-round clash on Paramount Network at 10 p.m. ET.

On March 13, Bellator made the decision to postpone that evening’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena for the health and safety of the athletes, staff and everyone involved. Keeping the health and safety of all involved as the top priority, the event on July 24 will be held without fans in attendance.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis airs live on Paramount Network on Friday, July 24 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Preliminary action will stream on Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel at 8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT.

Hailing from Brick, N.J., Ricky Bandejas will return to the cage for the second time in 2020 and sixth overall since signing with Bellator MMA in 2018. Coming off an impressive KO victory over Frans Mlambo at Bellator 240, Bandejas is looking to extend his current winning streak to three and is no stranger to fighting elite competition. With nine of his 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, including four in the first round of action, the heavy-handed 28-year-old will be looking to notch another highlight reel finish on July 24 and earn his shot at the 135-pound world title.

A longtime UFC-veteran, Sergio Pettis made his Bellator debut in January when he submitted Alfred Khashakyan via guillotine a mere three minutes into their bantamweight matchup at The Forum in Los Angeles. Training out of the famed Roufusport gym in Milwaukee alongside his brother, Anthony, and fellow Bellator athlete Emmanuel Sanchez, Pettis won nine of his 14 UFC appearances with victories over Joseph Benavidez, Brandon Moreno and John Moraga. Now, Pettis has his sights set on a world title fight, which is all but guaranteed with a win at Bellator 242.

The main card on Paramount Network also sees a co-main event pitting Jason Jackson (11-4) against Jordan Mein (31-12), who will be making his Bellator debut, in a welterweight contest, a 145-pound bout between the always-exciting Tywan Claxton (6-1) and undefeated Jay Jay Wilson (5-0) of New Zealand, while Aaron Pico (5-3) returns to featherweight against Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2), who upset Bellator mainstay Gaston Bolanos earlier this year.

The preliminary portion of Bellator 242 includes a bantamweight affair featuring Roufusport’s Raufeon Stots (13-1) taking on Cass Bell (5-0) of Humboldt County, Calif., a heavyweight slugfest between Steve Mowry (7-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 NC) and Logan Storley (11-0) putting his unblemished record on the line against Mark Lemminger (10-1) in a 170-pound matchup.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis Main Card:

Paramount Network

10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT

Bantamweight Main Event: Ricky Bandejas (13-3) vs. Sergio Pettis (19-5)

Welterweight Co-Main Event: Jason Jackson (11-4) vs. Jordan Mein (31-12)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Tywan Claxton (6-1) vs. Jay Jay Wilson (5-0)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Aaron Pico (5-3) vs. Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2)

Completed Preliminary Card:

Bellator MMA’s YouTube Channel

8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Logan Storley (11-0) vs. Mark Lemminger (10-1)

Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Raufeon Stots (13-1) vs. Cass Bell (5-0)

Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Steve Mowry (7-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 N)

Lovato Jr.: ‘I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan’

Following the medical complications that were publicly disclosed by Rafael Lovato Jr. (10-0) late last month, the Bellator middleweight champion has decided to relinquish his 185-pound world title. The unbeaten Lovato Jr. defeated former champ Gegard Mousasi to win the title at Bellator 223 in London on June 22, 2019.

 “My journey with my team and family to become the Bellator middleweight world champion was incredible and something I will cherish forever,” said Lovato Jr. “I dreamed of having a long reign as champion, but sometimes life has another plan. Bellator has been very supportive during this difficult process, a situation that has never really happened before in our sport. I know the division must move on while I am on the sidelines and I wish everyone great fights on their way to that belt. I will be working to come back if it is possible – and if not, life will continue to be amazing for me and I look forward to working with Bellator in another fashion.”

“This has been an incredibly challenging time for Lovato Jr., his team and his family at home,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “He is a true warrior of the sport and I cannot say enough about him for making such a difficult decision. His health is the priority for us and we will continue to work with him on addressing the next steps in his career.”

Bellator will announce plans for the vacant middleweight title in the coming days.

Budd-Cyborg set for January 25

Bellator is set to deliver one of the most anticipated bouts in the history of women’s MMA on Saturday, January 25 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif. when reigning champ Julia Budd (13-2) defends her world featherweight title against Cris “Cyborg” (21-2, 1 NC) in the main event.

Bellator: Budd vs. Cyborg will stream live exclusively on the DAZN app at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com, DAZN and globally on the Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fighting out of Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada, Budd will enter the Bellator cage in January for the fourth time since claiming the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight world title in 2017. Currently riding a winning streak of 11 bouts, including seven straight fights since joining forces with Bellator in 2015, “The Jewel” has her eyes set on a fourth consecutive world title defense when she finally has the opportunity to challenge “Cyborg.” Since knocking off Dutch legend Marloes Coenen for the 145-pound strap at Bellator 174, the Gibson MMA-product has since collected victories over top contenders Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe and Talita Nogueira. With seven of her 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, the former kickboxing standout will look to derail the Bellator debut of “Cyborg.”

On the heels of signing the largest contract in women’s MMA history, Cris “Cyborg” will enter the Bellator cage for the first time on January 25, with the opportunity to lay claim to Bellator gold. Just like her upcoming opponent, “Cyborg” too was an inaugural champion, winning the inaugural Strikeforce Featherweight Championship in 2009 after defeating Gina Carano. The 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native’s Bellator tenure follows a three-year run in UFC,  multiple world title and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith.

Cyborg signs with Bellator

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (21-2, 1 NC) has signed with Bellator, the organization announced today. The deal, according to Bellator, is the largest of its kind in women’s MMA history – exclusively secures “Cyborg’s” talents with a multi-year, multi-fight contract.

“Cyborg” joins current champ Julia Budd, Olga Rubin, Arlene Blencowe, Janay Harding and Leslie Smith among others, cementing Bellator’s 145-pound weight class as the strongest women’s featherweight division in MMA.

“Cyborg” joins Bellator following a three-year run in UFC, multiple world titles and a 20-fight unbeaten streak that includes notable victories against Holly Holm, Tonya Evinger, Marloes Coenen and Leslie Smith. Notably, the 34-year-old Curitiba, Brazil-native was the inaugural Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, defeating Gina Carano for the title in 2009.

“I have worked with countless athletes over my thirty-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like ‘Cyborg’,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. ‘Cyborg’ is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”

Mitrione-Kharitonov headline Bellator card in Connecticut

Bellator will hold the first-ever MMA event at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. on Saturday, August 24 when the always-exciting Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) once again squares off against Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC) in a heavyweight headline

The remainder of the main card features four other must-see bouts, including two additional heavyweight slugfests, as former Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov (21-1) faces Javy Ayala (11-7) in the co-main event, while undefeated heavyweight prospects Tyrell Fortune (6-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC), who both originally hail from Portland, Ore., collide in the main card opener.

Rounding out the five-fight card on Paramount Network – the man with the most appearances inside the Bellator Cage in history, David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC), takes on the undefeated Ukrainian Yaroslav Amosov (21-0) in a 175-pound catchweight bout, and former flyweight title contender Alejandra Lara (7-3) meetsTaylor Turner (4-5) at bantamweight, who returns after recently upsetting Heather Hardy at Madison Square Garden earlier this summer.

The main card can be seen live on Paramount Network and DAZN at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com, DAZN and globally on the Bellator Mobile App beginning at 5:45 pm EST/2:45 pm PST.

Earlier in the evening, Connecticut’s own “Notorious” Nick Newell (15-2) will lace up the Bellator gloves for the first time in his career and make the short drive from his home in Milford, Conn. to Webster Bank Arena, when he meets Corey Browning (5-2), a man who has already defeated “Baby Slice” and Aaron Chalmers. Also representing the “The Constitution State,” the surging Mike “The Savage” Kimbel (3-1) will be looking to impress the partisan crowd against Chris Disonell (3-3).

Preliminary action is highlighted by appearances from top Bellator prospects, including Royce Gracie’s eldest son Khonry Gracie (1-1), Israel’s Aviv Gozali (2-0) and the promotional debut of light heavyweight Grant “The Truth” Neal (1-0). Plus, long-time UFC and TUF veteran Sabah Homasi (12-8) returns to the Bellator Cage for the first time since Bellator 124.

Also on the card, unbeaten Austin “The Gentleman” Vanderford (7-0) will make his middleweight debut against Georgia’s Joseph Creer (6-0-1), New Jersey’sRicky Bandejas (11-3) will return to action for the first time since relocating to American Top Team in Florida, when he competes at bantamweight against Virginia’s Ahmet Kayretli (8-3, 1 NC) and the always-exciting Tim Johnson (12-5) will make his sophomore Bellator appearance against recently signed Azunna Anyanwu (15-5) of Philadelphia in a heavyweight matchup.

Complete Bellator 225: Mitrione vs. Kharitonov 2 Fight Card:

Heavyweight Main Event: Matt Mitrione (13-6, 1 NC) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC)

Heavyweight Co-Main Event: Vitaly Minakov (21-1) vs. Javy Ayala (11-7)

Bantamweight Feature Bout: Alejandra Lara (7-3) vs. Taylor Turner (4-5)

175-Pound Catchweight Feature Bout: David Rickels (21-5, 2 NC) vs. Yaroslav Amosov (21-0)

Heavyweight Feature Bout: Tyrell Fortune (6-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-0, 1 NC)

Preliminary Card:

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Khonry Gracie (1-1) vs. Oscar Vera (0-1)

165-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Aviv Gozali (2-0) vs. Eduard Muravitskiy (9-8)
Light Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Grant Neal (1-0) vs. Alpha Toure (Pro Debut)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Sabah Homasi (12-8) vs. Micah Terrill (14-7, 1 NC)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Austin Vanderford (7-0) vs. Joseph Creer (6-0-1)

Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Tim Johnson (12-5) vs. Azunna Anyanwu (15-5)

Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Ricky Bandejas (11-3) vs. Ahmet Kayretli (8-3, 1 NC)

140-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Mike Kimbel (3-1) vs. Chris Disonell (3-3)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Nick Newell (15-2) vs. Corey Browning (5-2)

165-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Kastriot Xhema (3-3, 1 NC) vs. Connor Dixon (Pro Debut)

175-Pound Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jon Manley (11-6) vs. Thiago Rela (10-7)

Rory MacDonald: ‘I am not retiring from my professional MMA career’

Two title fights are confirmed for Bellator’s return to Madison Square Garden on Friday, June 14 – an event to be streamed exclusively on DAZN.

Bellator 222: Machida vs. Sonnen will see current Bellator welterweight world champion Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) put his title on the line in the semi-finals of the Welterweight World Grand Prix against the unbeaten Renzo Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Neiman Gracie (9-0). In addition, Darrion Caldwell (13-2) will defend his Bellator bantamweight world title against Rizin Fighting Federation’s bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (27-2) in a true “champion vs. champion” matchup, following a Horiguchi submission victory when the two met in Rizin’s ring this past December.

The event also includes two of the sport’s biggest names in Lyoto Machida (25-8) and Chael Sonnen (31-16-1) headlining the card in a light heavyeight bout, who will finally meet after years of parallel MMA careers. Additionally, a 175-pound catchweight contest between polarizing grappling ace Dillon Danis (1-0) and Max Humphrey (3-2) is scheduled, while Heather Hardy (2-1), fresh off two boxing wins in 2018 to remain undefeated at 22-0, is ready to return to the site of her mixed martial arts debut and bring her exciting style back to the Bellator cage against a soon-to-be-announced opponent.

Caldwell, a 31-year-old Rahway, N.J.-native and the current Bellator bantamweight champion, has emerged as one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world, collecting 10 victories since signing with Bellator in 2013. The 2009 NCAA D-1 National Champion wrestler from NC State boasts a resume that includes five first-round finishes, a 25-minute war against Eduardo Dantas to claim the world title and a textbook guillotine choke submission victory over Leandro Higo in his first career title defense last year. Caldwell will look to avenge his submission loss when he enters the cage against Kyoji Horiguchi in June at MSG.

Bellator welterweight world champion Rory MacDonald shared these words about his upcoming bout:

“I want to take the time to thank everybody who had the chance to see my fight last weekend and share that candid moment I had in the Bellator cage with John McCarthy.

“I felt an internal struggle during the fight I never experienced before. I have always enjoyed my time in the cage by expressing my techniques in full out combat against another top-level fighter, but this time I wasn’t enjoying it. It felt more like a job than the satisfaction I am used to feeling by being dominant and applying what I have practiced to defeat someone.”

“Even during my dominant moments, I felt I was completing a task and these feelings were a bit confusing to me because it’s new. I used to fight with anger I held within myself from pain I had experienced in my past. To be honest, I believe this comes from my heart changing as I’m walking a new life as a Christian. The Lord has given me peace and freedom from the pain that haunted me in my heart from my younger years. I would only satisfy myself for a short period of time from winning fights until the feeling would resonate in me again. So, now I don’t feel the same emotions I have in the past while competing.

“I still and will always have a passion for martial arts and do not believe, as a Christian, that it’s wrong for myself to compete in a professional sport that is violent. In fact, I’m happy to testify about being a Christian on this platform I’ve been given.

“To be clear, I am not retiring from my professional MMA career, I’ve always been true and honest in the sport and I spoke from the heart.

“As for my career at the moment. I am going to move forward in this tournament and compete boldly against Neiman Gracie in New York at MSG on June 14.

“Thank you for your support and all the kind messages I’ve received after this sentimental moment I had for all to see after 14 years of being in this sport.”

Neiman Gracie has laced up the Bellator gloves seven times in his nine-fight professional career, but no victory has been as impressive as his most recent win against Ed Ruth in the opening round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. With the submission win over Ruth, the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt has now submitted opponents in five straight contests, including a submission win over Dave Marfone that took place during Bellator’s inaugural event at MSG, Bellator NYC. Now, with championship gold on the line, Gracie looks to keep his streak alive and take home the upset victory in his hometown.

1.5 million viewers watched Ryan Bader defeat Fedor Emelianenko

Ryan Bader’s stunning first round knockout of Fedor Emelianenko, the greatest heavyweight in MMA history, was witnessed by 1.5 million viewers on Paramount Network last Saturday, January 26. 

Bellator 214: Fedor vs Bader, emanating from the Los Angeles Forum in Los Angeles, was highlighted by the finals of the year-long Bellator World Heavyweight Grand Prix. The stacked card also featured a shocking first-round knockout of rising star Aaron Pico by Henry Corrales that drew 1 million viewers and the professional debut of Jake Hager, who defeated J.W. Kizer via first-round submission, which also tallied 1 million viewers.

Overall, Bellator 214: Fedor vs Bader drew 784,000 viewers (9:00-11:44pm ET) to Paramount Network.

Other significant ratings/digital/social points for Bellator 214:

  • The most-watched Bellator event since Bellator 192on January 20, 2018.
  • The highest-rated Bellator event with adults 18-49 (.6) since Bellator 175 on March 31, 2017.
  • The highest-rated Bellator event with men 18-49 (.73) since Bellator 192.
  • The second most-streamed Bellator event ever (on various Bellator/Paramount mobile platforms).
  • The most-streamed Bellator prelimany card ever.
  • The Ryan Bader knockout was among the most engaged posts in Bellator social media history with over 4 million views on various social platforms including a record number of video views on      Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • The week leading into Bellator 214 delivered the second most growth for new followers to Bellator’s social platforms in franchise history.

The ratings do not factor in DAZN viewership.

Photo: Bellator

Bellator and DAZN announce on-air talent for Bellator 206

Bellator 206 will bring together an on-air all-star team including Mauro Ranallo and “Big” John McCarthy calling all the action cageside. Renowned sports broadcaster Jay Glazer will host the desk with expert commentary and analysis from Chael Sonnen and Josh Thomson. Mike Goldberg and Jenn Brown will provide behind-the-scenes updates and breaking news as roving reporters throughout the night. Veteran announcer Michael C. Williams will serve in his customary role as in-cage announcer.

Mauro Ranallo is a versatile and dynamic combat sports broadcaster well-regarded for his excitement, passion and knowledge of combat sports. His lengthy resume includes Showtime Boxing, WWE, Strikeforce, PRIDE, and has the distinction of being the first announcer to call boxing, MMA, kickboxing and professional wrestling. Ranallo joined the Bellator announce team in 2017.  A social activist, his recently released documentary, Bipolar Rock ‘N Roller was met with critical acclaim.

  “Big” John McCarthy was a renowned MMA referee spanning nearly a quarter century, officiating many of the biggest events in the sport’s history. Now McCarthy, in his first year as a broadcaster for Bellator, shares his wealth of knowledge and insight with a global television audience.

Acclaimed NFL Insider at FOX Sports, Jay Glazer will host Bellator’s coverage of Bellator 206. The veteran broadcaster is one of the most recognizable sports personalities on television and possesses a vast understanding of MMA along with owning the popular training facility Unbreakable Performance Center in West Hollywood, Calif. for top-level athletes.

Chael Sonnen, currently a semifinalist in Bellator’s World Heavyweight Grand Prix, is among the most popular and recognizable fighters and personalities in the sport. An All-American wrestler at the University of Oregon, the world-class grappler has fought the biggest names in the history of MMA, from “Rampage” Jackson to Anderson Silva to Jon Jones. A former contestant on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, he has provided MMA commentary for ESPN since 2014, including hosting the weekly show Ariel and the Bad Guy with Ariel Helwani.

Josh Thomson is a former Strikeforce lightweight world champion who joined Bellator in 2015, and won has two of his three fights with the promotion. The exciting and outspoken fighter, known as “The Punk,” also has a budding acting and on-air announcing career.

Mike Goldberg, a popular veteran sports announcer, joined the Bellator announce team in 2017. With over a decade behind the microphone, Goldberg is one of the most recognizable voices in all of MMA. His resume also includes calling nearly 1000 NHL games for the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild, play-by-play for SEC, Big Ten, ACC college basketball and football and sideline reporter for the Chicago Bulls.

Jenn Brown joined Bellator in 2017 and is a two-time Emmy-award winner. A former Division I collegiate athlete for the University of Florida, the well-regarded on-air sports reporter has reported from the sidelines of the biggest college football and baseball games for ESPN. Brown was the first female correspondent for Inside the NFL and can be regularly seen covering both boxing and MMA. She spent eight years as a reporter and host for ESPN and sidelined the smash-hit show American Ninja Warrior.

Michael C. Williams has served as the in-ring voice of Bellator since 2010, covering events all over the globe. In is his 19th year as a ring announcer, the well-accomplished announcer has worked events ranging from boxing to marathons with prominent networks including HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Spike/Paramount Network, NBC and CBS, among others.

Mitrione-Bader set for October 12 in Connecticut

The semifinals of the 2018 Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix begin Friday, Oct.12 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. and will feature the return of exciting knockout artist Matt Mitrione (13-5) as he steps inside the Bellator cage against light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (25-5), who continues his quest to become a two-division world champion.

The event will be broadcast on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT and will stream LIVE on DAZN, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and globally on the Bellator Mobile App. Additional bouts will be announced in coming weeks.

 Bellator: Mitrione vs. Bader kicks off the semifinals of Bellator’s 2018 Heavyweight World Grand Prix, which will crown a new Bellator World Heavyweight Champion. On the opposite side of the bracket, Fedor Emelianenko (37-5, 1 NC) is set to square off with Chael Sonnen (31-15-1) at a later date.

 Matt Mitrione entered Bellator’s Heavyweight World Grand Prix fresh off a first-round KO of Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator NYC this past June. Now, following a victory in his first-round matchup with Roy Nelson at Bellator 194, Mitrione advances to meet the always-dangerous Bader. Splitting his training between Indianapolis and Combat Club in South Florida, the Illinois native looks to be in the best shape of his career. Prior to his MMA career, Mitrione was a standout defensive end at Purdue University who subsequently earned his way into the NFL, playing six seasons as a member of the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. He ultimately found his way into MMA where he became a high-level competitor, defeating the likes of the late Kimbo Slice, Derrick Lewis and Gabriel Gonzaga.

 Ryan Bader will make his fourth appearance for Bellator and the first since his 15-second TKO finish of “King Mo” Lawal at Bellator 199, which served as Bader’s first round pairing in the grand prix. Fighting out of Tempe, Ariz., Bader began his professional career by steamrolling the competition en route to a 12-fight unbeaten streak and winning one of the most competitive seasons of The Ultimate Fighter in 2008. “Darth” continued his path of dominance by collecting 15 victories over some of the 205-pound division’s top talent, including wins over former world champions “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans and Phil Davis twice. The former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler from Arizona State University will look to become one step closer to being a current two-division Bellator champion on Oct. 12.