Bellator 222 features a stacked undercard alongside the main attractions, so which fights are the ones to watch out for on Friday night?
Bellator 222 is arguably the most star-studded card that the promotion has put on in 2019 with two title fights and plenty of familiar names from top-to-bottom. While most of the attention will be on the top of the card, there are plenty of storylines from the prelims onward. Here is a look at the marquee action on Saturday night.
On the main card, Juan Archuleta looks to continue his impressive run when he takes on former bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas at featherweight. Archuleta is widely considered the top contender at 135 after current champion Darrion Caldwell takes on RIZIN champion Kyoji Horiguchi earlier in the night. While he likely could have elected to wait for a title shot, Archuleta chose to stay active and has expressed his plans to chase titles in multiple weight classes. Dantas, meanwhile, is hoping that a victory over Archuleta gives his career much needed momentum as he pursues another shot at the title.
Submission ace Dillon Danis makes his return to the Bellator cage for the first time in over a year to take on Max Humphrey. The last time people saw Danis, he taunted Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 which prompted “The Eagle” to leap out of the cage and initiate the brawl that became the top MMA story of 2018. While no external controversy is expected on Saturday, there will be interest in the strides Danis has made in his game since his last appearance.
👊💥@AaronPicoUSA hands out beatings on the regular!
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) June 10, 2019
Highlighting preliminary action will be Aaron Pico who is returning from a first round knockout loss in January to take on undefeated Adam Borics. Borics is 3-0 in Bellator and only two of his eight victories have gone to decision. Pico is hoping to regain the momentum he had prior to January where he was demolishing opponents and surging towards champion Patricio Freire. Most intriguing, Pico has split with Team Bodyshop and his team in Southern California and is now with JacksonWink in New Mexico as he looks to rebuild.
Boxing champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy makes her return to the Bellator cage for the first time in over a year to face Taylor Turner on the prelims. Though she has not been active in MMA, Hardy did make history by being part of only the second women’s boxing fight ever televised live on HBO. That fight, her second victory over Shelly Vincent, was also part of the last boxing broadcast to be aired on HBO. Turner’s record would suggest she’s being brought in to be a tune-up for Hardy, who says she is excited to put on a show in her home of New York.
— CBS Local (@cbslocal) June 11, 2019
Taekwondo master Valerie Loureda will be making her second appearance for the promotion when she faces Larkyn Dasch. Loureda, in just a single Bellator appearance, has quickly won over fans and is already frequently featured on promotion’s social media accounts. Dasch, who drew headlines for also working as a waitress at Hooters, is looking to pick up her first professional win. Notably, Dasch has several more fights on the amateur level than Loureda and figures to provide a solid challenge for the young prospect.