Bellator 202: Budd vs. Nogueira is set for July 13th at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The women’s featherweight title is on the line as Julia Budd takes on Talita Nogueira in back-to-back Bellator women main events! If Bellator 201: MacFarlane vs. Lara is any indication of how these women will throw down, then MMA fans are in for a treat this Friday night! Let’s break em down!
Valentin Moldavsky (6-1) vs. Ernest James (0-0)
To kick off the main card we jump right into a heavyweight battle that will play home to Ernest James’ professional debut. While James will look to open his professional career with a W, it is up to Valentin Moldavsky to play spoiler. The seven-fight vet will look to add newcomer James to his list of beaten foes as he tries to set the tone for the remainder of the night. Moldavsky started his pro career off quickly, grabbing three 1st round submission victories inside of three minutes (1:26, 0:47, 2:20), but has since slowed down with his last four fights going the distance. Without much information on Ernest James (one amateur fight according to sherdog.com), it is hard to give a super accurate preview of this matchup. Strangely enough, I would expect this fight to make its way to the ground (not common for heavyweights) as submission attempts will be aplenty.
PREDICTION: Valentin Moldavsky-Unanimous Decision
Chris “The Cutt” Honeycutt (10-2) vs. Leo Leite (10-1)
Another Bellator newbie, Leo Leite made his debut last November against Phil Davis, and came up short, losing by unanimous decision and blemishing his perfect 10-0 record. Leite is a very well-rounded fighter that can finish his opponent (3 KO, 3 Sub) or go the distance and impress for three rounds (4 Dec). Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he faces another very talented wrestler in Chris Honeycutt. Davis used some unorthodox striking and clinch work to defeat Leite, and I could see Honeycutt trying to emulate that approach. “The Cutt” could turn to his wrestling background but will have to be careful on the ground against the talented Brazilian. The All-American wrestler does have some power in his hands and has five KO wins. He is a pressure fighter and will look to land one of those heavy hands, and rely on his wrestling to avoid any takedown attempts by Leite.
PREDICTION: Chris Honeycutt- TKO (RND 2)
Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (20-5) vs. Michael “Mayday” McDonald (18-4)
This co-main event should be a VERY entertaining fight with the former Two-time Bellator Bantamweight champion Dantas taking on former UFC Bantamweight title contender McDonald. Dantas is a Bellator veteran, fighting 12 times for the promotion, earning the belt twice and defending it three times. Dudu has fought some of the best fighters Bellator has to offer en route to those belts, Warren, Galvao, Higo before finally losing the belt to new Bantamweight champion Darrion Caldwell. Seeing Dantas pedigree, McDonald isn’t some slouch himself. He held the Bantamweight belt in a smaller promotion called TPF (Tachi Palace Fights) and had a shot at UFC gold in an interim title shot vs Renan Barao. Mayday is an excellent finisher, stopping all but three fights by KO or submission, whereas Dantas has gone the distance in 10 of his 20 fights with four KOs and six submission wins. Given that both fighters are coming off of recent losses (Ok so it was 2016 for McDonald’s last loss), I hope to see both fighters come out fast and strong, as they try to cement themselves as a top contender in the division. The unique striking and setups that Dudu is known for could present a problem for most fighters, but McDonald has been in this game long enough that I don’t think it will affect him too much.
PREDICTION: Eduardo Dantas- Submission (RND 2)
Julia “The Jewel” Budd vs. Talita “Treta” Nogueira
Once again, Bellator will feature a women’s championship main event. This week, the featherweight world title is on the line as defending champion Julia Budd faces rising star, Talita Nogueira. Julia Budd has fought some of the greatest women’s MMA fighter on the planet, Marloes Coenen, Ronda Rousey, and Amanda Nunes (though losing to the latter two) en route to Bellator’s inaugural featherweight title. Nogueira has risen through the ranks to become a top contender for the title by, simply put, crushing her opponents. Treta is currently 7-0 with all seven wins by stoppage (2 KO, 5 Sub). What’s most impressive, she hasn’t seen the third round in any of her fights. This could be both a blessing and a curse for the Brazilian fighter. If “The Jewel” can get Nogueira into deep water, we may see her conditioning become a factor, especially since Budd is Queen of the decision (6 of 11 wins by decision). Inversely, if Talita is able to pressure Budd, and preferably get her to the ground, Nogueira may still be able to avoid a round three (or later). This fight will come down to takedown defense and who can control ground position best. Budd possesses the power to keep Talita honest, but Nogueira’s ground game is simply terrifying.