Bellator will kick off it’s 2020 schedule on Saturday with the promotion debut of Cris Cyborg. Fighting for the first time outside of the UFC since 2016, she will challenge for Julio Budd’s Featherweight Championship in a five-round fight. The stacked card features many returning Bellator names, many other former-UFC fighters debuting and the continuation of the Featherweight Grand Prix. In the promotion’s return to The Forum in Inglewood, California, USA, this is Bellator 238.
Bout 1: Tony Bartovich (0-0) vs. Jarett Conner (0-0) (Featherweight)
The preliminary portion of the card features a matchup between two debuting featherweights. Conner had a 2-4 record in amateur MMA, with Bartovich going 2-1. It’s worth noting that some of the preliminary fights could be bumped to the postlim spot, depending on how they go about scheduling the card.
Bout 2: Miguel Jacob (3-0) vs. David Pacheco (1-0) (Welterweight)
Undefeated welterweights Miguel Jacob and David Pacheco will be put against each other in the next prelim fight. Pacheco’s pro debut was in Bellator nearly a year ago, stopping Jorge Juarez. Jacob will be making his Bellator debut, picking up all three of his previous wins in the regional MMA promotion Fight Club OC.
Bout 3: Anthony Taylor (6-5) vs. Chris Avila (7-8) (Lightweight)
Anthony Taylor will see his return to Bellator this weekend, after fighting elsewhere for seven fights. Taylor made his debut in Bellator, going on a 1-3 run before going to other promotions. All three losses came via rear naked choke, with notable losses over James Gallagher and Adam Borics (who fights later on this card). He has since fought in high-level regionals like BAMMA and Combate Americas, currently riding a four-fight winning streak. His opponent, Chris Avila, will try to break even on his MMA record with this fight. He is 1-1 in Bellator, most recently losing to Brandon Faumui in April.
Bout 4: Brandon Bender (12-1) vs. Joshua Jones (9-5) (Featherweight)
After disappearing from the MMA scene for nearly six years, Brandon Bender will make his return against Joshua Jones on this undercard. Bender has an impressive 12-1 record, with his most recent (if you want to say recent) fight being a win over Mario Navarro at Bellator 116 in 2014, bouncing back from his sole loss. Around the same time, Jones debuted as a pro. He is 2-2 in his Bellator career so far, having two fights outside of the promotion within that timespan.
Bout 5: Curtis Millender (17-5) vs. Moses Murrietta (8-3) (Catchweight 175 lbs.)
Similar to Cris Cyborg’s fight, Curtis Millender will be having his first fight after his UFC run. Millender’s UFC career ended at 3-2, after losing to Belal Muhammad in April. He faces Moses Murrietta, who will also be debuting in Bellator. Murrietta has fought in LFA recently, although his last two fights were losses, including a 24 second stoppage.
Bout 6: AJ Agazarm (2-1) vs. Adel Altamimi (8-6) (Featherweight)
California-based Bellator fighters AJ Agazarm and Adel Altamimi are booked against eachother for the next preliminary matchup. Agazarm has had his short pro career fully in Bellator, going 2-1. Altamimi made his Bellator debut in 2019, defeating Brandon McMahan with an armbar. He recently lost a scorecard battle against Salim Mukhidinov, and will attempt to bounce back from that loss on Saturday.
Bout 7: Aaron Pico (4-3) vs. Daniel Carey (7-3) (Featherweight)
In 2018, Aaron Pico was known as one of Bellator’s biggest rising stars. However, back-to-back losses in 2019 have made people skeptical if Pico was actually worth what he was made out to be. He will be put against Daniel Carey on Saturday, with a loss extending the longest losing streak of his short career. All of Pico’s fights, win or loss, have all ended via stoppage. His last two losses came to Henry Corales and Adam Borics. Carey is 3-2, recently winning over Gaston Bolanos in September with a guillotine choke.
Bout 8: Ricardo Seixas Filho (8-2) vs. Dominic Clark (14-9) (Lightweight)
Also on the preliminary card, Cali fighters Ricardo Seixas Filho and Dominic Clark will battle. Both are coming off of losses, with Clark’s in Bellator against Joshua Jones. Filho’s last two fights were losses in LFA in 2018.
Bout 9: Jay Jay Wilson (4-0) vs. Mario Navarro (4-5) (Featherweight)
Undefeated Bellator fighter Jay Jay Wilson will bring Mario Navarro back to the cage in the next fight. Wilson had an explosive 2019, getting three wins, two of them in Bellator. Navarro has fought in Bellator before, but his last match was over three years ago, being a loss to Chinzo Machida.
Bout 10: Ava Knight (1-0) vs. Emilee Gettys (3-3) (Strawweight)
The main card begins with former boxer Ava Knight had a successful MMA debut three months ago, stopping Shannon Goughardy with body strikes on a Bellator card. In her second match, Knight will be paired against Emilee Gettys. Knight has a 19-2-5 record as a professional boxer, with her career spanning from 2007 to 2019. Gettys is on a three-fight winning streak, taking her career from a 0-3 record to an even record. The fight will be the debut of Gettys in Bellator.
Bout 11: Raymond Daniels (1-1) vs. Jason King (8-5) (Welterweight)
Experienced kickboxer Raymond Daniels will return to MMA in a fight with Jason King on the main card. Daniels has 35-3 kickboxing record, fighting in Bellator Kickboxing and GLORY in the past few years. His most recent MMA fight was a knockout of Wilker Barros with a flash right hook which made the rounds online. King is seemingly a good matchup for Daniels, having most of his wins and losses from striking battles. King has fought quite a bit in Valor FC, getting a first-round stoppage over Brian Jackson in November.
Bout 12: Juan Archuleta (23-2) vs. Henry Corrales (17-4) (Featherweight)
The next main card fight sees two eliminated fighters from the featherweight grand prix fight. Juan Archuleta, who lost to Patricio Pitbull, will fight Henry Corrales, who lost to Darrion Caldwell. The loss for Archuleta broke his impressive 18-fight winning streak. Corrales was riding a five-fight streak, not being favoured on the scorecards when fighting Caldwell.
Bout 13: Sergio Pettis (18-5) vs. Alfred Khashakyan (11-4) (Bantamweight)
As part of the trio of debuting former-UFC fighters on this card, Sergio Pettis will fight Alfre Khashakyan. Pettis fought in UFC 14 times, going back to 2013. While not having fought in the UFC in the past, Khashakyan will also be making his Bellator. In 2019, he on three in a row in 2019 in newly formed regional promotion LXF. Khashakyan’s most well-known fight is a loss to Sean O’Malley, on the series premiere episode of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Bout 14: Darrion Caldwell (13-3) vs. Adam Borics (14-0) (Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
The co-main event of the evening sees Darrion Caldwell and Adam Borics battle in the quarter-finals of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. Borics debuted in Bellator in 2017, going 5-0 since then, all via stoppage. He stopped Pat Curran with ground and pound in September to advance through the first round of the tournament. Caldwell’s round-of-16 win over Henry Corrales was his first win in a year, losing twice to Kyoji Horiguchi before. The second of the two losses saw Caldwell lose his Bellator Bantamweight Championship. Caldwell has fought all but three of his pro bouts in Bellator (including a fight in RIZIN which was co-promoted by Bellator).
Bout 15: Julia Budd (13-2) vs. Cris Cyborg (21-2) (Bellator Featherweight Championship)
The main event of the evening will is Cris Cyborg taking a shot at the Bellator Featherweight Championship against the current champion Julia Budd. Cyborg’s last UFC fight was a win over Canadian prospect Felicia Spencer. Before that, she lost her UFC Featherweight Championship to Amanda Nunes in under a minute via strikes. The matchup was one which many argued deserved a rematch, but was not made as Cyborg’s departure from the UFC was one that was not on good terms.
Budd has been the promotion’s featherweight champ since 2017, capturing the belt by defeating Marloes Coenen. Since then she has made three defences, most recently against Olga Rubin. Budd’s two career losses come to the prolific Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey, although those losses were in 2011. Vegas currently has Cyborg as a heavy favourite, sitting at -450 currently.
Bellator’s next event after this one will be on February 21st, presenting Bellator 239 from the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, USA. Headlining the card currently is Ed Rush and Yaroslav Amosov.