Bellator MMA travels overseas to the Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy for Bellator 176. The main event is a rematch between Melvin Manhoef and Rafael Carvalho, for Carvalho’s middleweight title. The two last fought at Bellator 155 where we saw Carvalho win the title over Manhoef by a split decision. The fight was awful and the decision wasn’t any better. Hopefully this time around we get a much better fight with a decisive winner one way or the other. The co-main event takes us to the women’s side for a catchweight fight between Anastasia Yankova and Elina Kallionidou.
The four fight main card rounds out with Valeriu Mircea taking on Djamil Chan in a battle of lightweights and Mihail Nica takes on Samba Coulibaly in another middleweight showdown.
The main card will air on Spike TV starting at 2PM CT.
Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1) vs. Rafael Carvalho (13-1) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will put his twelve fight winning streak on the line when he steps into the cage against Melvin Manhoef for the second time. Carvalho likes to move forward and apply pressure looking to clinch and work his opponents against the fence. Once there he’ll either try to wear them down against the fence or try to take the fight to the ground. Both strategies have worked with great success for Carvalho.
MMA veteran Melvin Manhoef is 2-2, with one no-contest since joining Bellator. For whatever reason Manhoef came into the first fight against Carvalho with a peculiar game plan. He seemed very tentative to let his hands go and decided to be more conservative. Maybe it was to save energy. Regardless his plan backfired and he was never really able to get anything going throughout the five round snooze-fest.
I expect a much different fight this time. Manhoef has 28 KO/TKOs in 40 fights and Carvalho has 10 in 13 fights so both fighters will go for the finish when they can. I can see Manhoef coming out and throwing hands in an effort to get the fight finished early, the question is will he end up gassing himself out in the process? If Carvalho can weather the early storm and take Manheof deep into the fight he will either get the finish or outpoint him to a decision.
Pick: Carvalho by decision
Elina Kallionidou (5-1) vs. Anastacia Yankova (4-0) – Catchweight
Anastasia Yankova is 4-0 in her professional career and 2-0 under the Bellator banner. Three of her four wins are by submission, with one decision. The decision came at her most recent fight against Veta Arteaga in a fight she didn’t look particularly good in.
Elina Kallionidou is 5-1 as a pro and 0-1 in Bellator. She lost her debut for the promotion when she was decisioned by Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 169. Three of her five wins are by KO/TKO.
Bellator would love to turn Yankova into the star she has the potential to become. The question is does she have what it takes in the cage? Kallionidou is a good opponent for Yankova. Her striking didn’t look good and her take down defense was nonexistent in her debut. Yankova shouldn’t have any trouble taking this fight to the ground and tapping the 18 year old Kallionidou.
Pick: Yankova by submission
Valeriu Mircea (13-4) vs. Djamil Chan (12-3) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Djamil Chan was on a seven fight win streak until he dropped a decision to Derek Campos at Bellator 161. He is 1-1 under the Bellator banner. Of his 12 career wins, 9 have come via KO/TKO.
Valeriu Mircea makes his second appearance for Bellator. He was subbed by Goiti Yamauchi in his debut at Bellator 168. Mircea is a finisher with 11 of his career 13 wins ending inside the distance.
Both fighters are coming off of losses and will want to put on a good show here. Chan is the bigger fighter with better striking and more power. While I don’t see Mircea having success on the feet, he can be dangerous on the ground as his six wins by submission illustrate.
Unfortunately for Mircea, Chan should be able to stuff his take down attempts and keep the fight standing leading to a stoppage.
Pick: Chan by TKO
Mihail Nica (5-0) vs. Samba Coulibaly (11-4) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Samba Coulibaly makes his Bellator debut after a long run on the regional circuit. He’s coming off of a submission win over Christopher Sengele at 100% Fight 29. Of his 11 career wins, 6 have come via submission.
Mihail Nica brings his undefeated record to Bellator for his promotional debut. He comes into the fight on a five fight winning streak with all five wins by stoppage. His most recent win came against Aldo Cirillo at Fight or Nothing – Road to Bellator.
This should be a fun fight, and a tough one to predict. Coulibaly has the experience so there won’t be anything that Nica can throw at him that he hasn’t seen before. I’m curious to see if Nica gets taken out of his game plan how he’ll respond. Will he have a back-up plan or will Coulibaly take advantage of Nica’s inexperience?
Pick: Nica by submission
Enjoy the fights!
The Fighting Champion
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