3 Under-the-Radar Bouts to Watch: Bellator 209
With Bellator heading to Tel Aviv, Israel for the third time in promotional history, there are plenty of intriguing matchups on tap for Bellator 209. Headlined by a featherweight championship bout, Bellator mainstay Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defends his title against streaking contender Emmanuel Sanchez in the evening’s main event. However, the remaining card features great up-and-coming Israeli talent and a light-heavyweight bout with serious title implications. Here are three bouts flying under the radar for the evening’s event.
Kirill Medvedovski vs. Denis Palancica
The 24-year-old Ukrainian Medvedovski (11-6 MMA, 0-2 Bellator) is hoping third time will be the charm in the Bellator cage at Bellator 209. While he’s winless in the promotion, his first two bouts were somewhat controversial fight bookings as he was matched up against former title-challenger Georgi Karakhanyan and rising star James Gallagher. Although he suffered a loss in his most recent bout in the ACB promotion, Medvedovski had won four straight and is doing his training camps under Mike Swick and the rest of the AKA Thailand team. Getting that first win will be no easy feat. Moldova’s Palancica (6-0 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) is undefeated with five of his six wins coming by finish. It is important to point out that all six of Palancica’s professional fights have come at Bantamweight whereas this fight will be contested at featherweight. Can the 22-year-old make an impressive showing with another finish in his Bellator debut?
Kirill Sidelnikov vs. Adam Keresh
Nicknamed “Baby Fedor” for his resemblance and fighting-style similarities to Fedor Emelianenko, Sidelnikov (11-5 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) may prove to be an underrated signing for the Bellator heavyweight division. Still only 30, Sidelnikov had won five-straight fights before a December 2017 loss to now UFC-signee Sergey Pavlovich. Many fans are excited to see what “Baby Fedor” can bring to the Bellator MMA cage. Standing in his way is the far-less-experienced Keresh (2-0 MMA, 1-0 Bellator). While heavyweights typically possess fight-changing power, many fans are questioning the matchup as Keresh’s two professional opponents had a 0-0 record at the time of the fight. This will also be Keresh’s first fight of 2018 as his last appearance came at Bellator 188, Bellator’s 2017 event in Tel Aviv. Will the native Israeli be able to rally behind the home crowd or will Sidelnikov stamp himself as a new face in the deep Bellator heavyweight division at Bellator 209?
Phil Davis vs. Vadim Nemkov
In a battle seriously flying under the radar, light-heavyweight title hopefuls Davis (19-4 MMA, 6-1 Bellator) and Nemkov (9-2 MMA, 2-0 Bellator) meet in a main-card bout that somehow isn’t the co-main event. Davis has only suffered defeat to one man since the start of 2015, current Bellator Light-Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader. Since dropping his Bellator Light-Heavyweight Champion to Bader in June 2017, “Mr. Wonderful” has won two straight with a lopsided decision over Leo Leite and a spectacular head-kick finish of Linton Vassell. His opponent however, has been absolutely flawless since joining the organization. The 26-year-old Russian has earned two finishes under the Bellator banner over former Light-Heavyweight champion Liam McGeery and now PFL $1M Heavyweight Tournament Finalist, Philipe Lins. Can Nemkov make it five straight and perhaps emerge as the next title challenger at 205lbs? Or will Davis snatch another victory over and up-and-comer and move one step closer to a third bout with the champion Bader?
— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) May 26, 2018