Bellator 294 went down last night (Fri., April 21, 2023) in the first event of the promotion's two-night doubleheader in Honolulu, Hawaii (full results here). Bellator 295 will wrap things up later tonight (Sat., April 22) with a bang because it will feature several intriguing matchups, including the Bantamweight World Grand Prix finale between interim champion, Raufeon Stots, and Patchy Mix.
The winner will earn a $1 million paycheck and a title unification bout against the winner of the upcoming 135-pound title fight between Sergio Pettis and Patricky Pitbull, which will go down at Bellator 297 on June 16.
Raufeon Stots vs. Patchy Mix
Exactly a year after the Grand Prix tournament kicked off, the finale will take place later tonight to determine who gets $1 million richer and takes home all the hardware. As interim champion and top seed, Stots is the obvious favorite in the title fight. “Super” is on a highly-impressive 11-fight win streak and is 19-1 as a pro with his lone loss coming against top Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contender, Merab Dvalishvili. Stots punched his ticket to the final by taking out Juan Archuleta and Danny Sabatello, while Mix had to get through Kyoji Horiguchi and Magomed Magomedov. This is a great matchup between two-well-rounded fighters, but the key here will be the wrestling. While Mix is highly-skilled in that area, Stots is a NCAA Division II champion, so the edge goes to him. All that said, it won’t be an all-out wrestling match and Mix has shown that he can throw hands. However, his specialty when it comes to MMA is his jiu-jitsu, racking up 12 of his 17 wins via submission. Stots has four wins by knockout and by four by submission, but he has never been submitted in a fight, so Mix has his work cut out for him if he wants to become the first man to do so. We are in for one hell of a fight between two of the absolute best 135-pound fighters in the game.
Prediction: Stots via unanimous decision
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane vs. Kana Watanabe
Macfarlane snapped her two-fight skid by snatching up a much-needed win over Bruna Ellen in her previous outing, and now she is out to earn a shot at the title — which was successfully defended last night by Liz Carmouche. Standing in her was is Watanabe, who is 3-1 under the Bellator banner with her lone defeat coming at the hands of the current champion. With Watanabe ranked No. 2 and Macfarlane sitting at No. 3, the winner should get the next title fight. Macfarlane will have the home field advantage tonight, but that won’t matter for Watanabe, who will eventually be able to grind out a win to punch her ticket to the big dance.
Prediction: Watanabe via unanimous decision
Aaron Pico vs. James Gonzalez
Six months after suffering a devastating shoulder injury mid-fight against Jeremy Kennedy, Pico returns on his road to climb his way up to a title shot. He was seemingly one win more win away from getting to the promised land before disaster struck, which was only made worse by his corner (see why here). Nevertheless, the wrestler-turned all-around mixed martial arts (MMA) star will look to bounce back against Gonzalez, who makes his way back to Bellator after a very short stint with Professional Fighters League (PFL). Gonzalez is a respectable 4-1 in his last five fights, but I expect him to be outmatched and outclassed here. Barring any health setbacks, I full expect Pico to dominate the fight before eventually scoring a late finish, putting him right back in the mix for a potential title shot against 145-pound champion, Patricky Pitbull.
Prediction: Pico via third-round submission
Yancy Medeiros vs. Charlie Leary
After a fight between Ray Borg and Kyoji Horiguchi was scrapped as a result of another — and perhaps final — weight blunder from “The Tazmexican Devil,” Medeiros and Leary were bumped up to the main card. Medeiros inked a contract with Bellator after successfully defeating Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 279. That win was his first in five years because he ended his UFC run with four straight defeats. Now, the Hawaii native is out to continue the resurrection of his career by earning his first back-to-back wins since mid-2017. As for Leary, his run inside the Bellator cage has been pretty forgetful. He has alternated wins and losses throughout his first five fights, but has suffered back-to-back defeats in his last two, bringing him to 3-4. The 41-year old is hoping to keep his spot on the roster with a win over Medeiros, but I just don’t see him getting back in the win column tonight. Medeiros seems motivated after his recent win and will have his family and friends behind him tonight as he fights in his backyard.
Prediction: Medeiros via unanimous decision
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