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A new era begins for MMA at Bellator 206

Can the stars align for what could be the biggest event in Bellator history?

Over the years we have seen fights that have shaped the world of MMA as we know it. Some cards have also created history-making moments. From Shogun Rua v. Dan Henderson to Conor McGregor making history inside Madison Square Garden, the UFC has had its fair share of moments. This year, Bellator has turned into an alternative for MMA fans. This weekend at Bellator 206, we could be seeing a true change being made in the landscape of MMA.

The era of DAZN will help lead the way for one of the most highly-anticipated MMA cards in quite some time. When Bellator President Scott Coker discussed the organizations new deal with the streaming service, he said that the OTT platform was the perfect fit for the growth of Bellator. He may be right. In Matchroom Boxing’s debut on DAZN, Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin went to war. Now imagine what the warriors under the Bellator umbrella will do.

Heading into the end of 2018, Bellator has some great cards lined up. From Chael Sonnen v. Fedor Emelianenko to their debut in Hawaii, Bellator is gaining some serious momentum. It all starts with Bellator 206, which has a little bit of everything, from rising rookies to an epic rivalry renewed, all the way to an epic title fight.

Rise of the Knockout Artist

Over the past few months, Aaron Pico has shown why Bellator hyped him up as a legitimate prospect. The knockout power of Pico (3-1) is incredible. After nerves doomed him in his first fight against Zach Freeman, Pico has not let any opponent escape the first round. In fact, only one fight has gone longer than two minutes.

At Bellator 206, Pico faces his toughest opponent to date in Leandro Higo. A former contender, Higo (18-4) last fought at Bellator 195, losing to Darrion Caldwell in a Bantamweight Championship fight. A submission specialist, it will be interesting to see how Pico handles pressure, especially by a true veteran. A win by the young gun can propel him to superstardom and a claim for a title shot.

Kickoff of the Welterweight Grand Prix

The opening match of the Welterweight Grand Prix Tournament features Douglas Lima v. Andrey Koreshkov. This is the third fight between the two, and the tiebreaker. Koreshkov (21-2) defeated Lima at Bellator 140 for the Bellator Welterweight Title, while Lima (29-7) won it back from him at Bellator 164. It goes without saying that these two know one another very well.

With the Welterweight Title on the line throughout the tournament, including $1 million from 50 Cent, this Grand Prix filled with established fighters is sure to create a buzz.

Old School is Cool

One of the last remaining rivalries of the old MMA returns in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson v. Wanderlei Silva. The battles these two have had, from Pride to the UFC, have been the stuff of legend. With Silva (35-13-1 (1NC)) leading 2-1, Jackson (37-13) is determined to prove he still has something left. “Rampage” discussed the fight with Double G Sports earlier this year, stating he is more prepared for Silva than ever before.

While these two legendary fighters have seen better days (both are on losing streaks) they are still intimidating forces within MMA. Go back and watch any of their classic battles and you will get a feel as to why Bellator made this fight. While rightfully not the main event, the co-main does have a special feel to it. Bellator may be moving away from the elder statesman leading cards, but that doesn’t mean some form of nostalgia will feel unwelcomed.

Champion v. Champion

We have seen a champion v. champion fight many times, but Bellator’s top fighters are looking to blow all of them out of the water. Gegard Mousasi defends his Middleweight Championship against Welterweight Champion Rory MacDonald. Two young, hungry, former UFC stars are putting it all on the line for a chance at glory.

MacDonald (20-4) won the Welterweight Title against Douglas Lima at Bellator 192. A former competitor in the UFC, MacDonald is most known for his epic bout against Robbie Lawler at UFC 189, heralded by many the fight of the year, and of the promotion’s history. 2-0 in Bellator, MacDonald has seven wins via submission and seven via KO. He will look to use a ground game against an opponent known for his striking ability.

Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) took a gamble on himself, and it seems to be working out well. 9-3 in the UFC, Mousasi faced and beat some of the best the promotion had to offer. From Dan Henderson to Vitor Belfort, Mousasi was on the rise. Not getting opportunities he thought he deserved, Mousasi jumped ship to Bellator.

In his first fight for the promotion, Mousasi beat Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 185. While controversial, the victory gave him his sixth win in a row. Beating Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 200 for the Middleweight Title was a dream come true for Mousasi, who was determined to become a true leader within an organization. With 24 wins via knockout, Mousasi will look to play with MacDonald’s mind and power his way to another victory.

Along with these fights, Bellator 206 promises to excite fans with the rest of the main card and undercard. From Keri Melendez v. Dakota Zimmerman to Adam Piccolotti v. James Terry, each fight serves a purpose.

September 29 will be a day Bellator fans may never forget. Are you ready? Bellator 206, exclusively on DAZN, starts at 10 p.m. ET at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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