Bellator 207 A Night for the Unknowns

Mandel Nallo Bellator 207
Mandel Nallo and Big John, Bellator 207 Credit: Mike McClory/Cageside Press

Bellator 207’s early action didn’t play out the way anyone expected, as it turned into a showcase for a number of virtually unknown fighters.

Uncasville, CT — If there was a common theme on Friday night at Bellator 207 in Uncasville, Connecticut, it’s that the night belonged to the unknowns. It was a night of upsets, a night of names you’d never heard of defeating names you most likely had, at least early on in the card. Kristi Lopez, Carrington Banks, Baby Slice. All three fell to their respective opponents, all three defeated in fights that most expected to be showcases for them.

Lopez went first, on the preliminary card, her first time setting foot in the Bellator cage in over a year. Against Sarah Click, a 1-2 fighter, it was expected Lopez would shine. Yet Click’s record was deceiving; she’d put her time in as an amateur, and from the get-go, she was more than happy to stand with Lopez, and deliver. While Lopez shone early, a late exchange saw Click take the upper hand, punctuated by a head kick. They’d go the full distance, but Sarah Click cruised to victory from there.

The main card opened with an upset few expected. Carrington ‘The Jetsetter’ Banks was a unanimous pick by many (including our own staff members) to score the win over Mandel Nallo. Nallo, hailing from Toronto, Canada and training with TriStar, was a virtual unknown. Yet in the first round, he nearly wrapped Banks up in a D’Arce choke. In the second, the floored him with a knee. Goodnight, Irene (more accurately, goodnight, Carrington). If fans didn’t know who Nallo was before, well, they did now.

Everything would settle in after that. Or so it seemed. Kevin Ferguson Jr., better known as Baby Slice, would storm out of the gates against Corey Browning, in the second fight in on the Bellator 207 main card. Slice seemed to have the advantage in size, speed, agility, and quickly had Browning down. Near-finishes followed. But Browning hung in there. Battled back. Put Slice in a crucifix at one point. Wore him down, and finally earned the TKO victory just over two minutes into the second round.

Click. Nallo. Browning. Not names anyone expected to be talking about following Bellator 207, but here we are nonetheless. Mandel Nallo will probably earn the biggest push from his performance Friday night, with ESPN’s Sport Center almost immediately pushing his finish of Banks as a knockout of the year contender.

As the main card progressed, of course, the story got back on track. Lorenz Larkin won a decision. Sergei Kharitonov did the improbable and knocked out Roy Nelson, but Kharitonov is far from an unknown. Same with Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader in the main event.

Yet for a while, Bellator 207 was all about the unknowns, and that “anything can happen” feel is what makes MMA so much fun.