The UFC remained quiet on the news front on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning (although, as predicted, more “news” came out about Conor McGregor), but at least the Bellator front office heard my pleas for something to talk about after yesterday’s slow news day and added a few bouts to their upcoming cards. First, Melvin Manhoef will be back headlining Bellator 146, as he takes on a man who is a surprising 1-0 in the organization, Hisaki Kato. Kato knocked out GLORY middleweight contender Joe Schilling with a superman punch in the second round of their June bout to shock everyone. This bout being at the top of the card probably won’t draw many eyeballs — Kato is still better known as “the guy who knocked out Schilling” instead of Hisaki Kato — but Bellator has clearly moved their model away from promoting much other than their “tentpole” events. Kato will now be tasked with the man Schilling defeated in his Bellator debut, Manhoef. The Dutch bomber’s run with the organization hasn’t gone quite as planned, with him getting knocked out by both Schilling and Alexander Shlemenko (the Shlemenko fight was later overturned to a no contest) following his debut win over Doug Marshall. Manhoef has always been the definition of an action fighter, with only 4 of his 44 career bouts going to decision, and the vast majority ending with a KO. This one should be no different, and Manhoef has a real shot, as he will be the better kickboxer in what is likely to be a primarily stand up affair. Another announcement by the organization was a piece of classic Scott Coker/Rich Chou matchmaking, that is to say it’s almost guaranteed to end in a first round stoppage, and almost guaranteed to be a particular fighter doing the damage. Brennan Ward has the honor once again of being in what Jimmy Lennon Jr. would refer to as a “feature attraction” as he takes on Dennis Olson at Bellator 144. Ward suffered consecutive losses at middleweight before dropping down to 170 where he has earned two first-round stoppages. Olson is now 0-3 in Bellator, and got TKO’d by Paul Daley in his last appearance. I would be surprised if this one lasted long, and we may even see Ward emerge from this bout as a title contender for Andrey Koreshkov depending on what direction Coker wants to take the division. Finally, Ryan Couture will return to the Bellator cage later this month to face Nick Gonzalez in a lightweight bout. Bellator 143 is headlined by Joe Warren taking on L.C. Davis in a bantamweight contender’s match, but more importantly Chase Gormley will add his first Bellator bout to a resume that already includes the UFC, RFA, and Titan.
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