Bellator 227: “Henderson vs. Jury” comes to 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, later this afternoon and evening (Fri., Sept. 27, 2019). Two long-time Lightweight vets scrap in the main event, while “The Strabanimal” looks to put on a show close to home versus a rival who looks to steal the spotlight with a star making performance.
Let’s break it down:
Bellator 227 Main Card
155 lbs.: Benson Henderson (27-8) vs. Myles Jury (18-4)
One man stands to gain well more than the other with this pivotal Lightweight fight. Henderson is on a three-fight win streak, having most recently bested Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 220 earlier this year. Jury, on the other hand, was bounced from UFC after dropping two straight bouts. This showdown not only gives him the chance to show he’s still relevant, but to make an immediate challenge for the title by defeating a former Bellator No. 1 contender and former WEC and UFC champion. Meanwhile, if the elder veteran Henderson, 35, prevails he may have his own argument to challenge for the gold. Jury would not soon see a main event again with a devastating loss to Henderson and a three-fight skid to boot.
“Devastating” is not what this bout is likely to be. Henderson’s main events are often very closely scored, and on occasion he gets controversial split decisions in his favor, but he seems to always know what the judges are looking for and that’s to his credit. Jury can’t play Henderson’s evasive game. He has two inches in height (5’11”) and reach (73”) over Henderson, and being five years younger should make him the faster man unless he takes a huge adrenaline dump and blows his cardio. Picking against a streaking fighter with the laurels and credentials of Henderson is not an easy choice to make, but with 8 of 18 wins coming by knockout (44 percent), I believe Jury’s capable of neutralizing Henderson’s elusiveness.
Final prediction: Myles Jury via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Leah McCourt (2-1) vs. Kerry Hughes (3-4)
Given their respective records this prediction is relatively easy to make!
Final prediction: Leah McCourt smashes Hughes with a quickness
160 lbs.: Kiefer Crosbie (6-1) vs. Hugo Pereira (3-1)
After being disqualified for an illegal knee strike in his last fight, Kiefer Crosbie is rewarded with a Catchweight fight at 160 pounds on a televised main card. Only in mixed martial arts (MMA), folks. “Big Daddy” is from SBG Ireland so the promotion is clearly hoping to curry favor with the local crowd. Hugo Pereira is another late replacement for this card and sports a decent enough record, but they’ve all been regional opponents who don’t match the kind of experience or training partners a Straight Blast Gym fighter like Crosbie has.
Final prediction: Kiefer Crosbie by second round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Frans Mlambo (7-4) vs. Dominique Wooding (6-2)
“The Black Mamba” Frans Mlambo is another SBG Ireland-trained fighter who has shown a little upside in his career of late with back to back wins, and he’s well balanced in his methods of victory, having four knockouts and three submissions. His opponent Dominique Wooding is nicknamed “The Black Panther” so the tag lines practically write themselves, and given he’s a London fighter he’ll be 100 percent the heel to this crowd. All six of his wins are by form of knockout which means he’s bringing the thunder in this fight. Both men stand 5’9,” though, so Mlambo should not be intimidated, and if Wooding over commits in the striking game that leaves huge openings for Mlambo to take him to the ground and look for a finish.
Final prediction: Frans Mlambo via unanimous decision
Bellator: “Dublin” (European Series) Main Card:
135 lbs.: James Gallagher (9-1) vs. Roman Salazar (13-9, 1 NC)
James Gallagher has returned to his winning ways of late, notching two in a row including his last fight in London. The man from Strabane will be happy to return home to Ireland for this main event, and Irish eyes will indeed be smiling on him as he walks to the Bellator cage. If you’re new to the Straight Blast Gym “FOC” (Friend of Conor) here’s what you need to know most — he’s a submission specialist. Indeed, 77 percent of his wins (seven of nine) come via tapping an opponent out. That makes decision wins (such as his aforementioned last fight) more of a fluke than a regular occurrence. Going the distance just isn’t his style.
Originally set to face Cal Ellenor and headline the “Dublin” portion of the broadcast, Gallagher becomes the third man in this preview to have a late change of opponent. Gallagher had a size advantage over both scheduled foes, and although “El Gallito” Roman Salazar sports both UFC and Combate Americas experience, he’s lost three of his last four and hasn’t fought outside the state of Arizona since 2016. Gallagher has lost to a regional fighter who had yet to emerge in the national spotlight before, but Salazar already had his moment in the sun and sank back down to the minor leagues.
Owning to both the height and reach advantage, Gallagher will look to press both standing until Salazar gives him an opening for the takedown. Part of the reason Gallagher lost to Bandejas was that he faced a more experienced opponent, but in this case Salazar’s only more experienced at losing and having the “home court” advantage helps considerably.
Final prediction: James Gallagher via rear naked choke in round two
170 lbs.: Michael Page (14-1) vs. Richard Kiely (3-1)
All of the holes in Michael “Venom” Page’s game got exposed via one big knockout blow from Douglas Lima. Now that the hype train has been derailed perhaps Page can stop being a one trick pony. Wait — Richard Kiely? All three of his wins have technical knockouts — two in BAMMA and one in Bellator. Forget any idea of Page changing his style up for this fight. They are feeding him an opponent to look good against. Kiely comes up short in every category (literally) from size to reach to experience, and if Page doesn’t own him then the train hasn’t just derailed but exploded the moment it went off the tracks.
Final prediction: MVP via flying knee of doom
155 lbs.: Ryan Scope (10-2) vs. Peter Queally (11-5-1)
“Big Baby” is a weird nickname for a fighter, but so is “Barncat” and so is “Dean of Mean,” so Ryan Scope has nothing to worry about there. What he should be worried about from “The Showstopper” Peter Queally is a tendency to live up to his name by grinding things to a halt. He’s earned 10 of 11 wins (91 percent) by decision, so he’ll try to press Scope into the fence and wear him out at short distance, taking him down if needed to rack up extra points. What Scope gives up in size to the larger Queally he makes up for in diversity — four knockouts and four submissions — and coming off a razor-close fight with Patricky Pitbull he’ll be extra motivated to prove himself in Dublin. He may be a “Big Baby” but he didn’t cry about being robbed by the judges in London, so I expect him to muscle Queally right back and then open up with his jab and some clinch work. He’ll get the job done.
Final prediction: Ryan Scope via third round doctor’s stoppage technical knockout
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 227 tomorrow with play-by-play updates for the main card bouts and quick results for the rest. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.