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Bellator 276 predictions, preview | Borics vs. Burnell

Bellator MMA

Bellator 276 is set to go down on Saturday (March 12, 2022) from inside The Family Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. In the main event of the evening, Featherweight contenders Adam Borics and Mads Burnell collide in a pivotal bout that could earn the winner a shot at the title. In the co-main event, former Light Heavyweight champion Phil Davis will attempt to earn his way closer to another chance at winning gold when he takes on Julius Anglickas.

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 276 on Showtime Saturday afternoon right here. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

Adam Borics vs. Mads Burnell

A.J. McKee will defend his Featherweight title against former division king, Patricio Freire, in the main event of Bellator 277 on April 15 in a highly-anticipated rematch. Before then, however, Borics and Burnell will look to secure the next championship fight in the division. Of course, that’s assuming “Pitbull” doesn’t defeat “The Mercenary” to set up an instant trilogy fight. Regardless of what happens with those two champions, Borics and Burnell have a ton of incentive to get the job in St. Louis. The two contenders are tied for the No. 2 spot at the moment, so that means the winner will take sole possession of it once the dust settles, perhaps even moving up to No. 1.

Since leaving the UFC ranks in 2018, Burnell has gone on the best run of his MMA career thus far. After a brief stint at Cage Warriors — where he the 145-pound title and racked up four straight wins — Burnell inked a deal with Bellator, and he hasn’t stopped winning. In his first three fights, he took out Darko Banovic via first-round knockout, Saul Rogers vai submission, and then proceeded to defeat longtime veteran Emmanuel Sanchez via unanimous decision at Bellator 263. In short, the man can do it all and his current seven-fight win streak is the longest of his career. Now, he is on the cusp of earning a shot at Bellator gold if he can stop the streaking “Kid” who has championship aspirations of his own.

Other than his loss to Darrion Caldwell, Borics has been perfect throughout his career, winning 17 of 18 including going 8-1 under the Bellator banner. Throughout, his run, “The Kid” has picked up great wins over Roger Huerta, Jeremy Kennedy, and Aaron Pico, knocking him out via flying knee at Bellator 222. When you think of potential faces of an MMA promotion, Borics is your prototypical mold. He’s got the look, charisma, and at 28 years of age, has time on his side to make a historic run. A win over Burnell should solidify his shot at gold, setting up a potential barn-burner against McKee, pitting together two of the best, young 145-pound fighters on the planet against one another. Of course, getting through Burnell will be no easy task, though Borics will find a way to sway the judges over 25 minutes of hard-fought action. He has the advantage in the striking department and if it goes the distance, I see him having more in the gas tank than Burnell. That’s not to say Burnell won’t make it a dog fight, but Borics will be a tad bit quicker to the punch when it comes to the exchanges.

Final prediction: Borics via unanimous decision


Phil Davis vs. Julius Anglickas

After losing in his 205-pound title fight to Vadim Nemkov, Davis bounced back nicely with a unanimous decision win over former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight contender, Yoel Romero. The loss to Nemkov was his second to the current champion, so getting another crack at the Russian star is definitely on “Mr. Wonderful’s” to-do list. Up first, he has to get through Anglickas, who is also coming off a loss to Nemkov. Indeed, Anglickas was an alternate in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, but fell short to Nemkov at Bellator 268, snapping his nine-fight win streak in the process.

It’s no secret that Davis will try to drag this fight to the mat and try to suffocate and eventually drown Anglickas with his world-class wrestling. And that is definitely his best path to victory, though it’s not a lock. That’s because Anglickas has great jiu-jitsu in his tool belt, and his four rear-naked choke wins are proof of that. Anglickas can strike, no doubt, but Davis will likely have him covered there, too, but not by much. Expect a grappling-heavy fight that will go the distance. Anglickas has shown flashes of brilliance and grit, but Davis’ wrestling will prove to be too much for the Lithuania, who will spend the majority of the 15-minutes of the fight on his back trying to secure to latch on to one of his foe’s limbs in order to get a submission that will never come

Final prediction: Davis via unanimous decision


John Salter vs Johnny Eblen

After Gegard Mousasi disposed of Austin Vanderford in the very first round at Bellator 275 (see it here), John Salter and Johnny Eblen’s motivation to pick up a win intensified because the winner will likely get a shot at trying to dethrone “The Dreamcatcher.” Of course, Salter came up short in his chance to do it at Bellator 264, losing to the champion via third-round technical knockout (video here). That said, Salter is still ranked No. 1 so if he can take out Eblen, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Bellator matchmakers booked the fight one more time. If Eblen, wins, though, there should be no doubt that he gets Mousasi next because it will be his seventh straight win inside the Bellator cage.

As for the fight itself, it’s a sneaky good matchup because both men are go-getters, they get after it, foot to the gas pedal. Eblen is undefeated at 10-0 with six stoppages to his credit. Though not a slouch when it comes to jiu-jitsu, his preference is the striking department and he does it very well. He has five KO/TKO wins under his belt and is coming off a huge stoppage win over Collin Huckbody at Bellator 272 just a few months ago. “Diamond Hands” may have had a quiet rise, but he intends to make some noise by handing Salter his second straight defeat.

Speaking of which, Salter’s loss to Mousasi will undoubtedly only serve as fuel to the fire. Prior to his loss, Salter stormed his way to the top spot by winning seven of his first eight fights for the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. His well-rounded game gives plenty of people trouble, but once he grabs a hold of you, it’s his world. Indeed, eight of Salter’s last 11 wins have come via submission, so it’s no secret what the jiu-jitsu black belt prefers to do. He also has the experience advantage over Eblen going for him, but I just don’t think it will be enough this time around. Eblen is a bit more explosive and I see him catching Salter early and often to score a stoppage victory in the early rounds.

Final prediction: Eblen via second-round TKO


Jay-Jay Wilson vs. Gadzhi Rabadanov

While Adam Borics and Mads Burnell will be fighting for a spot in a Featherweight championship fight, Wilson and Rabadanov will be squaring off for the opportunity to earn a spot in the Top 10 at 145 pounds. Wilson is undefeated at 8-0, all with Bellator. “The Maori Kid” has five first-round stoppages under his belt (three submissions, two knockouts) and seven stoppage wins overall. Wilson is coming off a devastating knockout win over former title contender, Pedro Carvalho, his second straight win via KO/TKO. Wilson has a well-round attack, he can twist you up like a pretzel while punishing you on the feet.

As for Rabadanov, he scored a first-round knockout win over Daniel Carey in his Bellator debut at Bellator 263, his second straight win. He was won eight of his last nine fights, three via knockout and five going the distance. The former Lightweight utilizes his reach well and he great wrestling, a staple of most combatants coming out of Dagestan, particularly those that train under former UFC Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. And that’s where I expect this fight to play out, in the grappling department. If Wilson can’t get his licks in early and often, it could be a long night fight him on his back. Rabadadov is a grinder and he will take Wilson to deep waters and wear him out, ultimately scoring a late submission, handing him his first-ever defeat.

Final prediction: Rabadanov via third-round submission


To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.