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Bellator 290 predictions, preview | Bader vs Fedor 2

Bellator MMA

Bellator 290 is set to go down this Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2023) on CBS, which will feature a Heavyweight championship rematch between division king, Ryan Bader, taking on Fedor Emelianenko in what will be “The Last Emperor’s” retirement fight.

In the co-main event, Johnny Eblen will defend his Middleweight title for the first time against Anatoly Tokov, while Brennan Ward will face off against Sabah Homasi in a Welterweight banger to kick off the three-fight main card.

Before all six men get down to business, let’s take a deeper look at all three bouts.

Champion Ryan Bader vs Fedor Emelianenko

All week has been about Fedor’s final fight, leaving Bader somewhat out in the cold. Bader doesn’t mind it, though, and is okay with giving Emelianenko the spotlight as he rides off into the sunset...but not on fight night. Indeed, Bader is determined to play the bad guy for a second time against a huge fan-favorite in his final bout. “Darth” already has a lightning-quick, first-round knockout win over “The Last Emperor” (see it again here), but is adamant that there isn’t much to take from that fight since it happened so quickly. And he’s right. Since that loss, Fedor has racked up back-to-back knockout wins, so not only does he have momentum on his side, he has revenge on it, too. Bader, meanwhile, is 3-2-1 since his win over the Russian big man, losing his Light Heavyweight title along the way. But he is also on two-fight win streak. Will we have a repeat of the first fight? Probably not. Fedor wants to go out on top and nothing would delight fight fans’ more than to see that happen. He’s looked great in his last two outings, but Timothy Johnson and Quinton Jackson are no Ryan Bader, no disrespect. Though Bader hasn’t been as consistent with the wins as of late, he is still fighting at a high level. While Fedor’s last two outings resulted in wins, some are finding it hard to gauge where exactly he is given the competition. If it turns into a striking match Bader has the power, but Fedor is still showing quickness with his punches. If it goes past a minute — which I hope it does — then we will maybe get to see which discipline prevails: Russian sambo or good old American wrestling. Everyone — sans Bader and his faithful fans — wants Fedor to go out with a title. But if he wants to accomplish that he is going to have to be on his “A” game. Fedor has never gone five rounds, and I don’t see this fight going the distance. This is a tough one to call, it really is. But let me go ahead and go with the bold prediction that will see Emelianenko clip Bader with an overhand right, and ground and pound him in the third round to get his fairy tale ending.

Prediction: Emelianenko via third-round TKO

Johnny Eblen vs Anatoly Tokov

It took Eblen seven wins inside the Bellator cage to earn his shot at the title, but when he got it he performed tremendously, dominating Gegard Mousasi for five rounds at Bellator 282 to win the strap. Seven months removed from that fight, Eblen is out to start his title reign in impressive fashion as he puts his 12-0 record on the line against Tokov, who is on a seven-fight win streak himself. Ranked No. 3 at the moment, Tokov has proven to be a dominant force at 185 pounds thanks to his outstanding grappling skills, which were polished with the aide of Fedor Emelianenko. With give finishes during his win streak — three knockouts, two submissions — Tokov is all about the business, get in and get out. But he can also take his foes to deep waters and drown them. Doing that against Eblen could be troublesome because he has endurance and a gas tank for days. This is a tough one to call, as well, because both men are firing on all cylinders and both are well-rounded. Eblen is a great wrestler, but Tokov’s grappling is next-level, as is the case with most Red Devil Sport club team members. This will come down to endurance because I really don’t see this one being a finish. After 25 minutes of action, Tokov would have done just enough to earn the nod on the scorecards, but not by a lot.

Prediction: Tokov via split decision

Brennan Ward vs Sabah Homasi

During a recent media day (video here), Brennan Ward stated that he was tasked with opening Bellator’s debut on CBS despite not having a number beside his name because he is all action...and he’s not wrong. He has only gone the distance once in is career and has racked up 16 stoppages in 16 wins. Since returning from a five-year layoff, Ward has been on fire and picked up two wins in 2022, both knockouts over Brandon Bell and Kassius Kayne. Against Homasi, he will be facing a man with a similar aggressive style who is coming of back-to-back first-round victories over Jaleel Willis and Maycon Mendonça. Ward also recently stated that he doesn’t foresee this fight going past the first round, with the forecast calling for a violent knockout on his behalf. If it’s a barn-burner that he wants he will get it against Homasi, which is a dangerous game to play against a heavy-handed foe such as him. If it does turn into a haymaker contest there is no telling who takes this one because one clean punch can send the other one home after a brief nap. All that said, this is going to be a flip of a coin.

Prediction: Ward via first-round knockout

Bellator 290 goes down this Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2023) inside Kia Forum in Los Angeles, California. For complete live streaming results click here.

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