Bellator 281: “MVP vs. Storley” will go down tomorrow (Fri., May 13, 2022) in London, England, featuring an interim Welterweight title fight between Michael Page and Logan Storley. Also on the card, Paul Daley will bid farewell to the mixed martial arts (MMA) game when he takes on Wendell Giacomo.
Michael Page vs. Logan Storley
Initially slated to face off against 170-pound champion, Yaroslov Amosov, for the undisputed strap, Page will not have to settle for attempting to win the interim strip by taking out Storley. Page picked up a huge win in his last outing against Douglas lima — the only man to ever defeat him — and silenced many naysayers who felt “MVP” hadn’t beaten anyone of high caliber to be getting all the praise he’s received. Now, he has the chance to turn even the biggest of critics if he can earn his first-ever taste of Bellator gold. It won’t be a walk in the park, however, because Storley is as game as they come with championship fight experience. At 13-1, Storley’s lone loss came against the aforementioned Yaroslov Amosov at Bellator 252 via split decision. Other than that, he has been perfect, including going 8-1 with Bellator. As a Division 1 NCAA All-American in wrestling, Storely has a huge advantage over Page in that department, which will be his best course of action if he wants to pull off the win. For Page, it’s no secret he prefers a stand-up battle, and he will have to use his reach advantage to perfection if he wants to get the win. Page, of course, is as spontaneous and exciting as they come inside the cage, but I don’t foresee him taking too many flashy chances in one of the, if not the, biggest fight of his career. On that note, he will have to be aggressive while practicing caution because once Storely gets a hold of him, he can expect to go for a ride down to the canvas. It’s easy to go with Page here because he’s the flashy knockout artist who gets top billing. But it’s not a lock, either. Storley is more than proven and battle-tested and if he can impose his wrestling skills, he has the chance to pull off the upset. In the end, however, Page will be too good on the feet and will eventually catch “Storm” enough times to impress the judges.
Prediction: Page via unanimous decision
Lyoto Machida vs. Fabian Edwards
After over a year away from the action, Lyoto Machida will return to face Fabian Edwards in a must-win fight for “The Dragon.” Machida is currently riding a three-fight losing streak and hasn’t tasted victory in over three years. Since making the jump to Bellator, he is just 1-3, though he has still managed to hang on to a Top 10 spot. Bellator isn’t exactly in the business of cutting fighters that still have some name value, but it would be in the Karate expert’s best interest to get the “W” here for his future aspirations. In Edwards he will have a formidable foe, though he also had a rough go as of late, losing his last two fights after starting off his career at 9-0. Edwards has a slight grappling advantage here, and the striking is pretty even, something we couldn’t have said a few years back. Indeed, Machida last likely lost a step or two, and based on his recent track record, it’s safe to say that his best days are behind him.
Prediction: Edwards via third-round TKO
Denise Kielholtz vs. Kana Watanabe
As the current Bellator kickboxing champion, Denise Kielholtz wants a bit more recognition, and winning the division title in MMA is a sure-fire way to get it. The next obstacle in her way is Kana Watanabe, who is coming off a loss to current division queen, Liz Carmouche. Other than that setback, Watanabe has been perfect, including winning her first two fights with the promotion. Kielholtz is also coming off a loss after she fell to the former champion, Juliana Velasquez. Kielholtz, obviously, has the striking advantage, though that’s not to say Watanabe is a slouch with her hands — she has three knockout wins under her belt. Her best path to a victory is by taking Kielholtz to the ground and look for the submission because two of three of the kickboxer’s defeats have come as a result of her foe's superior jiu-jitsu skills.
Prediction: Watanabe via unanimous decision
Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley vs. Wendell Giacomo
Paul Daley had originally asked for and received a fight against the former 170-pound champion, Andrey Koreshkov for what will be the final fight of his MMA career. But a few months after the booking, Koreshkov was forced out of the event and was replaced by Wendell Giácomo, who will be making his Bellator debut. Daley has been around the block a few times so there isn’t much Giacomo — and 11-fight veteran — can throw at someone who has stepped into the cage with many of the best 170-pound fighters on the planet such as Nick Diaz, Michael Page, Jon, Fitch, Rory MacDonald, and Douglas Lima, just to name a few. For Giacomo, upsetting “Semtex” in his farewell fight would be a huge feather in his cap and a great way to kick off his Bellator campaign, though I just don’t see that happening. Daley has long been one of the best strikers in the game, and though he never reached the championship throne in any of the top organizations, he did get close on a few occasions. His experience level of 63 pro fights is a huge advantage and he will use all the knowledge he’s gathered over his long career to get the win. Giacomo is 9-2 in his career, though he has been fighting professionally for nearly a decade. Daley will do all he can to draw “White Walker” into a standup battle, and once he hooks him it will be all she wrote for the Brazilain bomber.
Final prediction: Daley vis second-round knockout
Luke Trainer vs. Simon Biyong
In a battle of up and coming contenders, Luke Trainer and Simon Biyong will collide in the opening fight of the main card to see who takes a huge step forward in the Light Heavyweight division. A win for either man won't get them into the Top 10, but it will be one step closer. Trainer is 5-0 in his young MMA career and turned pro in 2019. All five of his victories have come by way of stoppage, three in the very first round. He has three KO/TKO wins with two submissions, so to say he has a well-round attack is a good assessment. Biyong, however, also hates leaving fights to the judges, getting six of his seven wins via strikes, with one coming by way of submission. When you put all of that together you have a recipe for an exciting fight between two combatants looking for a finish. On that note, it could also be a stalemate if either of them is cautious to engage, see Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis. But I just don’t see it playing out that way.
Prediction: Trainer via second round technical knockout
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