Bellator 226: Bader vs. Kongo

Preview and Predictions for Bellator 226: Bader vs. Kongo by Danny Rourke and Darell Garner 

Bellator MMA takes over the SAP Center in San Jose, California this Saturday for Bellator 226: Bader vs. Kongo. Highlighted by the Heavyweight Championship and four First Round matches to kick off the Featherweight Grand Prix—Bellator 226 is an event you won’t want to miss.  Action starts Saturday evening with:
Prelims        DAZN     7:30PM/ETMain Card   DAZN   10:00PM/ET

Bellator 226 Main Card Predictions
Gaston Balonos (-375) vs. Daniel Carey (+265)
Gaston “The Dreamkiller” Balonos (5-1-0) meets Daniel “Scarey” Carey (6-3-0) to kickoff a slew of Featherweight fights on the Main Card. While this fight is not included among the four First Round fights in the Featherweight Grand Prix, it does showcase one of Bellator’s rising stars in Gaston Balonos, who seems to be always just moments away from creating another highlight reel finish. Balonos has finished all of his opponents by TKO/KO in his five professional wins which have all taken place inside the Bellator cage. His opponent, Daniel Carey is coming off a knockout loss to Adil Benjilany at Bellator 210. Carey is 2-2 heading into his fifth fight with the promotion, but will have to really shine if he intends on pulling an upset off against Balonos.  

Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Balonos via Second Round TKO
D’Bo’s Pick: Balonos via First Round TKO
Featherweight Grand Prix, First Round 
Sam Sicilia (+260) vs. Pedro Carvalho (-350)
Sam Sicilia (17-9-0) takes on Pedro Carvalho (10-3-0) in the first match of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. Carvalho has really been finding his groove having won his last five in a row, including his first three inside the Bellator cage against Daniel Crawford, Vuca Vitali, and Derek Campos. A submission loss to Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 212 has sandwiched Decision wins for Sam Sicilia against Derek Campos and Marcos Galvao to start his Bellator since hopping over from the UFC in 2017. Sicilia certainly has knockout power to get a finish, but Carvalho is the hotter hand and looked phenomenal in his First Round stoppage over Campos. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Carvalho via First Round KO 
D’Bo’s Pick: Sicilia via Decision 
Featherweight Grand Prix, First Round 

Tywan Claxton (+170) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (-215)
“Air” Tywan Claxton (5-0-0) takes a big step up in competition as he takes on former title contender Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez (18-4-0) in the First Round of Featherweight Grand Prix. Tywan Claxton is 5-0, with four knockouts, and like Gaston Balonos has put together a string of sensational highlights since joining the promotion in 2017. However, Claxton will certainly have his meddle tested against El Matador, who has won five of his last six against more experienced opponents. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Sanchez via Decision 
D’Bo’s Pick: Claxton via Second Round TKO
Featherweight Grand Prix, First Round 

Pat Curran (+110) vs. Adam Borics (-140)
Former Featherweight Champion Pat “Paddy Mike” Curran (23-8–0) looks to begin another title run against undefeated phenom Adam “The Kid” Borics (9-0-0). Pat Curran returned at Bellator 221 to face undefeated AJ McKee following a nineteen month layoff, but saw a three fight win streak come against the Mercenary losing by Unanimous Decision. Curran faces a tough opponent in Borics, who is 4-0 inside the Bellator cage and is coming off the biggest win of his career, where he finished Aaron Pico via Flying Knee TKO at Madison Square Garden a few months ago. This should be a tough test for the Kid, but I believe Borics will once again rise to the occasion. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Borics via Second Round TkO 
D’Bo’s Pick: Borics via Decision 
Featherweight Grand Prix, First Round 

Daniel Straus (-390) vs. Derek Campos (+300)
Daniel Straus (25-8-0) looks to continue his fairytale story as he meets veteran Derek Campos (19-9-0) in the First Round of the Featherweight Grand Prix. Daniel Straus comeback fight against Shane Kruchten at Bellator 219 was nothing short of miraculous as ended the fight via First Round Submission. Straus vowed to fight again after being told by doctors he may very well never walk following a devastating and  life threatening motorcycle accident in 2017. Straus now returns to the Featherweight division to face Campos, who has had a rough time dropping his last three fights since moving down to Featherweight. I think Straus advances to the Second Round with another stoppage win.  

Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Straus via First Round TKO
D’Bo’s Pick: Straus via Decision 
MAIN EVENT—Bellator Heavyweight Championship 
{C} Ryan Bader (-345) vs. Cheick Kongo (+285)
Double Champ Ryan “Darth” Bader (27-5-0) meets Cheick Kongo (30-10-2) in what should be a contentious Main Event with the Bellator Heavyweight Championship on the line. Riding an eight fight win streak, you can tell Cheick Kongo is confident as he shoved the Double Champ on Friday at the ceremonial weigh-ins. While he did oddly did not participate in the Heavyweight Grand Prix where Bader won his title, Cheick Kongo’s current streak includes impressive wins over former champ Vitaly Minakov, and stoppage wins over Timothy Johnson and Javy Ayala.  Kongo will have a pronounced height and reach advantage, but will it be another to topple Bader? After recently being heralded by Bellator President/CEO Scott Coker as the best heavyweight in the world, it is tough to argue has Bader looked tremendous in the Grand Prix in  knockout finishes of legends King Mo and Fedor Emelianenko, who Bader dropped on Round One to become Double Champ. Bader better come correct in his first Heavyweight title defense as he has had struggled  in the past against power punchers Glover Teixeira, Lyoto Machida, and Rumble Johnson.  Bader should get the job done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kongo drops Bader with one shot to become the new Heavyweight Champion. 

Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Kongo via Second Round TKO
D’Bo’s Pick: Bader via First Round KO 

In three weeks, Bellator returns to the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪 for Bellator Dublin: Gallagher vs. Ellenor. Share your thoughts and picks with us in the Comments section below and enjoy the fights!! 

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