Bellator brings two title fights and a host of alums to Penn State on Friday, as the university plays host to Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell.

In the midst of a busy week for MMA with shows from four of the major promotions (the UFC, Bellator, PFL, and ONE Championship all put on events between Thursday and Saturday), Bellator MMA puts on one of its “tentpole” events Friday. Bellator 186 sees light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader defend his 205lb title for the first time, against Brit Linton Vassell. While that serves as the evening’s main event, in the co-main event, Bellator beats the UFC to the punch in crowning a women’s 125lb champion.

The inaugural flyweight title will be contested in a rematch between undefeated Hawaiian Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Emily Ducote. The pair first met in 2016, with Macfarlane taking home a unanimous decision victory. Ducote has won two fights since then, and will look for vengeance upon the only women to defeat her in Bellator.

Cageside Press has our picks in — lets see who we’ve got!

Ed Ruth vs. Chris DempseyZach Freeman vs. Saad AwadPhil Davis vs. Leonardo LeiteIlima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Emily DucoteRyan Bader (c) vs. Linton Vassell
Heath Harshman (62-48)
Jason Payne (42-25)
Paarth Pande (61-43)
Mike McClory (52-38)
Mike Straus (4-3)
Danny Doherty (62-48)
Harry Davies (61-49)
Jay Anderson (58-52)
Eddie Law (54-56)

There was no dissension among the ranks for the main and co-main events, as all nine writers responding took Macfarlane and Bader to win. Nor was there any question about the return of Phil Davis. Mr. Wonderful was a unanimous pick for all of our staff as well, over jiu-jitsu ace Leo Leite, who would be making his promotional debut.

The closest bout to call for our staff was the lightweight scrap between Zach Freeman and Saad Awad. Freeman, also known as ‘The Altar Boy,’ shocked the MMA world when he defeated highly touted prospect Aron Pico at Bellator NYC in June. Despite Pico’s complete lack of experience in MMA, Freeman had widely been expected to play the role of cannon fodder at the June event. Now, at Bellator 186, he was looking to prove that he’s no fluke. Saad Awad, meanwhile, entered the night off a win at Bellator 178 over Ryan Quinn. A longtime Bellator combatant, he appeared in the finals of Bellator’s season eight lightweight tournament. Five of nine writers are going with Freeman in this one.

In the final bout featured on the Bellator 186 main card, all but one of our writers chose Ed Ruth over Chris Dempsey.