Bellator 287 took place in Milan, Italy on Saturday with a main event of Mansour Barnaoui versus Adam Piccolotti.
The Frenchman, Barnaoui, returned to fighting after a three year layoff following his Road FC Grand Prix victory that saw him win one million dollars in the finals, and later the lightweight title. Barnaoui has had a storied career outside of the consensus top four promotions, with three of his four career losses coming to Kevin Lee, Mateusz Gamrot, and Islam Makhachev. His Bellator debut saw him face promotional veteran Adam Piccolotti. Piccolotti was making his first appearance in a Bellator main event after thirteen fights in the promotion, racking up an impressive 9-4 record in the process.
Piccolotti came out right away and took down Mansour Barnaoui. However, Barnaoui executed a perfect half-guard sweep and moved on top. Piccolotti was able to throw up an omoplata attempt but Barnaoui remained calm, got himself out, avoided the triangle-armbar attempt that came next, and rained down ground strikes.
Mansour then smoothly transitioned to the back of his opponent but Piccolotti refused to allow both hooks in. Barnaoui responded with hard hammerfists and smothering top pressure, forcing Piccolotti to open up and allow the body triangle in. Then, with an even better control position, the Frenchman rained down even harder ground and pound. Barnaoui switched to a rear-naked choke attempt, torquing his opponents body badly, but Piccolotti refused to let the arm get all the way under the chin. So Barnaoui punched him some more. The Frenchman’s infamous grappling that saw him almost beat Islam Makhachev in 2013 lived up to its reputation, and he ended the round in full mount dropping more punches. Piccolotti was bruised badly around his eyes when he sat in his corner.
Round two began with Barnaoui pressing his opponent backwards. Piccolotti attempted a guillotine but it was Barnaoui who ended up on the bottom. However, Barnaoui’s slick grappling saw him reverse Piccolotti and take his back against the cage almost out of nowhere. Barnaoui spent the next few minutes softening up Piccolotti with short punches as Piccolotti focused on defending his neck from the choke. Still, Barnaoui got close on a few rear-naked attempts before finally, three minutes into the round, submitting his opponent.
His return to competition was dominant and impressive against the backdrop of the raucous cheers of the French fans who had traveled to Italy specifically to see him. Mansour Barnaoui cemented himself as a name to watch in the stacked Bellator lightweight division, and perhaps earned himself a spot in the upcoming grand prix. In his post-fight interview he warned all the lightweights of his arrival. And what an arrival it was.
Official Result: Mansour Barnaoui def. Adam Piccolotti by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:51