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October 18, 2017

Bellator 185 Preview: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko

Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko

Travis Lizotte

One of the biggest tickets in the sport; Bellator MMA will make its second trip through New England Friday October 20th from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. In the promotions first stop in New England this year; the fourth meeting between Featherweights Patricio Pitbull and Daniel Straus for the Bellator Featherweight Championship headlined an intriguing fight card that was absolutely littered with regional talent from right here in the Northeast. Bellator has given the Northeast MMA fans another treat by headlining the Bellator 185 card with a pair of the biggest names on the roster, former Pride, Strikeforce and UFC star; Gegard Mousasi (42-6) will make his promotional debut against the former Bellator Middleweight Champion; Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko (56-9). Unfortunately, two co-main event bouts have been scrapped due to injuries in the last few weeks leading up to the event including; Liam McGeary vs. King Mo, the subsequent replacement fight; McGeary vs. Bubba McDaniel, as well as the replacement co-main event Connecticut’s “Irish” Brennan Ward (14-6) was due to take on fellow Bellator veteran Dave “Caveman” Rickles (18-4). Although the Bellator 185 fight card has suffered some loss of “Star Power” the openings on the Main Card have allowed some of New England’s own talent to move their way onto the Nationally Televised Main Card that will air Friday night live on Spike TV at 9 pm est. Ten of the 14 announced fights on Friday Night’s fight card include fighter’s with their roots in New England or Northeast MMA and will include some of the top talent in the region as well as current and former champions of from many regional Promotions; as well as fighters from the largest promotions in New England including;  CES, Combat Zone, Cage Titans, NEF, Reality Fighting and Premier FC. The New England MMA team will be out in full force Friday night when the spectacle that is Bellator MMA, returns to New England, toting with it some well-known hometown talent much to the delight of New England MMA fans.

Fights with New England/Northeast Roots:
Main Card Airing Live on Spike TV at 9pm est:
Heather Hardy (1-0) v. Kristina Williams (Debut)
Women’s Flyweight
Heather “The Heat”Hardy (Brooklyn, New York)
Affiliation: Gleasons Gym  
Record: 1-0 (1 Knockout)
Summary: The Former Professional Boxer and WBC International Female Super Bantamweight Champion; Hardy put her heavy hands on display in her Bellator debut, earning herself a third round Knockout against Alice Yauger in her first competition in the MMA cage, after a successful career in the Boxing Ring  
Last fight: Third round TKO (punches) of Alice Yauger at Bellator NYC: Silva vs. Sonnen.
Kristina “The Warhorse” Williams
Affiliation: American Elite MMA
Record: 0-0 (3-0 as an Amateur)
Summary: After a 3-0 Amateur career which saw her finish one opponent by submission, and two decision victories, Oklahoma’s Williams will need to be on her game against the Combat Sports Veteran; Heather Hardy. Williams is however, from a Mixed MArtial Arts background and has more experience in the cage than Hardy.
Last fight: Unanimous Decision over Taylor Pace at HD MMA 9.

Ryan Quinn (13-7-1) v. Marcus Surin  (4-0)
Ryan Quinn (Danbury, Connecticut)
Affiliation: American Top Team  
Record: 13-7-1 (4 Submissions, 2 Knockouts)
Summary: Connecticut’s own Ryan Quinn has become one of the more successful Welterweights to come out of New England. Quinn who has been a mainstay on both the New England local scene as well as the Bellator MMA roster trains with one of the top camps in all of MMA; American Top Team, Coconut Creek, Florida. Quinn returns home to Connecticut with intentions of handing fellow Connecticut native; Marcus Surin his first professional loss.  
Last fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Saad Awad at Bellator 178: Straus vs. Pitbull 4.
Marcus “The Blue Point” Surin (Stamford, Connecticut)
Affiliation: C3 Athletics  
Record: 4-0 (2 Submissions, 1 Knockout)
Summary: After starting his MMA career with 5 straight Submission victories, including 3-0 as Amateur, Surin has added a Unanimous Decision victory as well as his first career knockout, of Christian Torres at World Series of Fighting 31 to run his overall record to 7-0 and 4-0 as a professional. Marcus faces undoubtedly his toughest test to date when he meets American Top Team’s Ryan Quinn on the Main Card Friday night.  
Last fight: Second round TKO (knees) of Christian Torres at WSOF 31: Ivanov vs. Copeland.

Lisa Blaine (1-0) v. Ana Julaton (2-2)
Flyweight (Women’s)
Lisa “Insane” Blaine (North Haven, Connecticut)
Affiliation: Ultimate MMA
Record: 1-0 ( 1 TKO)
Summary: At 4-2 overall and 1-0 in her Professional career, Lisa “Insane” Blaine comes in the the bout with a fair amount of hype from the hometown crowd, when she takes on Ana Julaton in what will be both fighters debut under the Bellator banner. Blaine is coming off a decisive Knockout of Tammy Worrick in June at Premier FC 23.  
Last fight: Second round TKO victory over Tammy Worrick at Premier FC 23.
Ana “The Hurricane”Julaton
Affiliation: Orion Sports
Record: 2-2 (1 TKO)
Summary: Julaton began her combat sports life as WBO and IBA Super Bantamweight champion, before exploring the world of MMA for the first time in 2014. After winning her first professional MMA fight by knockout, Julaton has dropped two decisions in her last three fights and will look to the match up with Connecticut’s Blaine to get back to her winning ways, as she makes her Bellator MMA Debut.   
Last fight: Decision loss to Irina Mazepa at ONE Championship: Spirit of Champions.

Preliminary Non-Televised Undercard:
Steve Skrzat (7-9) v. Costello van Steenis  (8-1)
Steve Skrzat (Pascoag, Rhode Island)
Affiliation: BST MMA and Fitness
Record: 7-9 (7 Knockouts)
Summary: Veteran of the New England MMA cages, Skrzat will be making his second trip to the Bellator cage as he squares off with Costello van Steenis, who is likely a huge favorite in the matchup with the vaunted New England veteran. Skrzat isn’t afraid to be the underdog, and knows once the bell rings he has the ability to put almost any man to sleep.
Last fight: Second round TKO loss to Tim Caron at Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis.
Costello “The Spaniard” van Steenis
Affiliation: MMA Vlaardingen
Record: 8-1 (5 Submissions, 1 Knockout)
Summary: The Netherlands Costello van Steenis will be making his United States debut after going an impressive 8-1 as a professional throughout Europe. Van Steenis has the history of finishing fights and is the owner of five submission victories to go along with one career knockout. Finishing the fight will definitely be on Costello’s mind when he faces the Rhode Island native Skrzat.    
Last fight: Win by second round Disqualification against Marcin Naruszczka at PLMMA 72 Lomianki.

Alec Hooben (5-3) v. Jordan Young (7-0)
Catchweight (195)
Alec Hooben (Pompton Lakes, New Jersey)
Affiliation: Gracie New Jersey Academy
Record: 5-3 (3 Submissions, 1 TKO)
Summary: Hooben’s streak of three consecutive victories came to an abrupt end in May when he fell victim to a first round Mike Rodriguez Knockout at CES 44. Rodriquez was thought to be a big step up in competition for New Jersey’s Hooben, but the mountain seems twice as tall in this match with the Undefeated American Top Team Product and one of Bellator’s next biggest stars, Jordan Young.   
Last fight: First round TKO loss (strikes) to Mike Rodriguez at CES 44: Bessette vs. Trujillo.
Jordan Young
Affiliation: American Top Team  
Record: 7-0 (5 Submissions)
Summary: Jordan Youngs 11-1 career record includes a squeaky clean 7-0 Professional record as well as a 2-0 record in the Bellator cage, and the lone blemish on that record was a split decision as an Amateur. Young’s incredible resume has him in the conversation as one of the most highly anticipated prospects currently signed to Bellator, Young should further his hype with a dominant effort against New Jersey’s Hooben.
Last fight: First round Submission victory over Tim Caron at Bellator 178: Pitbull vs. Straus.
Dean Hancock (2-1) v. John Beneduce (2-1)
Dean “The Hammer” Hancock (Danbury, Connecticut)
Affiliation: American Top Team Boston
Record: 2-1 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)
Summary: All three of Hancock’s professional fights have come inside the Bellator cage, and the Danbury, Connecticut native has finished two of his opponents inside the first two rounds, one by first round submission and another by second round TKO. Hancock suffered his first professional defeat in his last contest against New York’s Sam Watford in April of 2016.  
Last fight: First round Submission (Armlock) loss to Sam Watford at Bellator 153 Koreshov vs, Henderson.
John Beneduce (Brooklyn, New York)
Affiliation: Longo and Weidman MMA
Record: 2-1 (2 Submissions)
Summary: Veteran of the Reality Fighting promotion, New York’s Beneduce will make his first appearance for the Bellator promotion when he squares off with the Bellator veteran Dean Hancock. Beneduce will be looking to get this fight to the ground where he can put his high level of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills on display, a set of skills he has honed under former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra.  
Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to David Sachs at Ring of Combat 15.(2007)
Pete Rogers Jr. (2-4) v. Timothy Wheeler (1-5)
Pete “The Heat” Rogers Jr. (Norwich, Connecticut)
Affiliation: Pete Rogers MMA
Record: 2-4 (1 Knockout, 1 Submission)
Summary: After starting his career 2-1, Rogers has come up on the wrong side of three straight submissions and will likely look to stand and bang with New York’s Wheeler. Pete does have fight finishing ability in his fists if he can avoid the submissions long enough to unleash them.  
Last fight: First round Submission Loss (injury) to Derek Shorey at CES 38: Soriano vs. Makashvili.
Timothy Wheeler (New York, New York)
Affiliation: Elite Plus MMA
Record:1-5 (1 Submission)
Summary: Wheeler has been finished in the first round in each of his last five fights, including 3 submission and 2 knockout losses. Wheeler will be looking to get into the win column for just the second time in his career when he takes the Bellator cage for the first time on Friday.  
Last fight: First round Submission (Choke) loss to Johnny Campbell at Cage Titans 34.
Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) v. Joaguin Buckley (7-1)
Vinicius “The Brazilian Bad Boy” de Jesus (Stamford, Connecticut by way of Porto Alegre, Brazil)
Affiliation: B&V fight and fitness/ UFC Gym  
Record: 5-1 (2 Submissions, 2 Knockouts)
Summary: The former Premier FC fighter will be making his second straight appearance in the Bellator cage after earning a surprising submission of James Boran (6-0) at Bellator 163 in November of last year. Bellator will once again try to send “The Brazilian Bad Boy” through the buzz saw when he throws down with St. Louis’ Joaquin Buckley.  
Last fight: Second Round Submission choke of James Boran at Bellator 163: McGeary v. Davis.
Joaquin “Young Buck” Buckley
Affiliation: Finney’s HIT Squad  
Record: 7-1 (5 Knockouts)
Summary: Highly regarded Mid-West Welterweight Buckley will be making his fourth straight Bellator appearance and will be looking for his third win for the promotion after his decision victory over Justin Patterson this March at Bellator 175. Joaquin has high hopes of making de Jesus his 6th career Knockout as he looks to let his heavy hands fly.  
Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Justin Patterson at Bellator 175: Rampage v. King Mo 2.  
Matthew Denning  (5-6) v. Don Shainis  (3-1)
Catchweight (150 lbs)
Matthew “Ken Doll” Denning (Auburn, Maine)
Affiliation: Central Maine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu  
Record: 5-6 (5 Submissions)
Summary: Denning has returned to his more natural fight weight of 145-150 in his last two fights which has resulted in back to back wins for the New England Fights Featherweight. Denning has earned back to back submission chokes of Josh Parker and Dominic Jones after dropping his previous 4 fights including his National debut at World Series of Fighting 34 against Tommy Marcellino (Welterweight), who forced the much smaller Denning to tap in the first round.   
Last fight: First round Submission victory over Dominic Jones at NEF 29: Stars and Stripes.
“Shameless”Don Shainis (Easton, Massachusetts)
Affiliation: Redline Fight Sports  
Record: 3-1 (2 Submissions )
Summary: Shainis will be making his second straight appearance on New England Bellator cards after getting the nod in a decision with Mak Kelleher at Bellator 178 in April of this year. The former Cage Titans Champion Shainis will draw the most seasoned opponent of his MMA career when he squares off with fellow New England veteran Matt Denning.  
Last fight: Unanimous Decision victory over Mak Kelleher at Bellator 178: Straus vs. Pitbull 4.
Vovka Clay (6-2) v. Frank Sforza (8-0)
Catchweight (150)
Vovka “KGB” Clay (Nashua, New Hampshire, by way of Smolensk, Russia)
Affiliation: Triumph BJJ  
Record: 6-2 (4 Submissions, 1 Knockout)
Summary: Vovka will be making his second appearance in the Bellator cage after an eye opening decision loss to Chris Foster at Bellator 153, which handed Clay his first professional loss against the Bellator and World Series of Fighting veteran. Vovka will be looking to return that favor upon Frank Sforza and hand him his first career loss in the Bellator cage.
Last fight: Second round Submission (Choke) of Taylor Trahan at Combat Zone 62: Legendary.
Frank Sforza (Rockland, Massachusetts)
Affiliation: South Shore Sportfighting  
Record: 8-0 (5 Submissions, 1 Knockout)
Summary: Frank Sforza has gone a clean 12-0 in his Mixed Martial Arts career, spanning 7 years; 4-0 as an Amateur and 8-0 amongst the Professional ranks. A veteran of the Cage Titans Promotion for most of his career; Frank will finally get his shot in the Bellator cage when he throws down with fellow New Englander; budding star Vovka Clay.   
Last fight: Second round Submission (Choke) of Jeff Anderson at Cage Titans 35.

Kevin Carrier (Debut) v. Jose Antonio Perez (Debut)
Kevin “Crash” Carrier (Rochester, New York)
Affiliation: Ultimate Athletics
Record: Pro Debut (7-4 Amateur Record)
Summary: As an Amateur Carrier fought 9 times for the Gladius Fights promotion earning three knockouts and one submission victory over his seven career wins for the promotion. The stage is set for a huge professional debut in one of the sports biggest proving grounds; Bellator MMA.    
Last fight: Split decision loss to Vince Ciotoli at Gladius Fights 21.  
Jose Antonio Perez (Newark, New Jersey)
Affiliation: Inbound Fight Club
Record: Pro Debut (1-3 Amateur Record)
Summary: With just a 1-3 career Amateur record Perez will make the biggest jump in his career when he makes his Professional debut under the bright lights of the Bellator cage, in search of just his second career win in his first professional contest.
Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Zac Krulikowski at Ring of Combat AM 24
Billy Giovanella (9-6) v. Johnny Lopez (8-4)
Billy Giovanella (Bellingham, Massachusetts)
Affiliation: Connors MMA  
Record: 9-6 (4 Submissions, 3 Knockouts)
Summary: After his attempt at a third Bellator appearance was scrapped in April at Bellator 178; where he was due to face New York’s Josh Ricci. Giovanella will look to earn his second Bellator victory in three attempts; as he faces fellow New England Flyweight Johnny Lopez.   
Last fight: First round TKO loss (Knees) to Alexander Keshtov at Global Proving Ground 27: Gladiator Series 3.
Johnny Lopez (Hartford, Connecticut)
Affiliation: Underdog MMA
Record: 8-4 (6 Submissions)
Summary: Lopez will be in search of his first win in the Bellator cage when he steps in with Giovanella for the second time, once submitting Giovanella in the first round of their Flyweight Title Fight for Reality Fighting just last year. Lopez left the Bellator cage last time with a lot of questions as he thought he had done enough to earn the nod from the judges at Bellator 178 against another New England Flyweight; Remo Cardarelli.   
Last fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Remo Cardarelli at Bellator 178: Straus vs. Pitbull 4.

Full Bellator 85 fight card (Subject to Change):
Main Card:
Gegard Mousasi v. Alexander Shlemenko 185 lbs
Neiman Gracie v. Zak Bucia 170 lbs
Heather Hardy v. Kristina Williams 125 lbs.
Ryan Quinn v. Marcus Surin 155 lbs.
Ana Julaton v. Lisa Blaine 125 lbs.
Steve Skrzat v. Costello van Steenis 185 lbs.
Jordan Young v. Alec Hooben 195 lbs.
Dean Hancock v. John Beneduce 155 lbs.
Pete Rogers Jr. v. Timothy Wheeler 145 lbs.
Joaquin Buckley v. Vinicius de Jesus 170 lbs.
Matt Denning v. Don Shainis 150 lbs.
Vovka Clay v. Frank Sforza 150 lbs.
Jose Antonio Perez v. Kevin Carrier 155 lbs.

Billy Giovanella v. Johnny Lopez 125 lbs.