Bellator Paris is locked and loaded and will pop off tomorrow (Fri., May, 12, 2023) inside Accor Arena in Paris, France, featuring a title eliminator fight in the Middleweight division between former champion, Gegard Mousasi, and top contender, Fabian Edwards. In the co-main event, the Lightweight Grand Prix continues with a matchup between former Brent Primus and Mansour Barnaoui, who will look to move closer to the $1 million title fight.
185 lbs.: Gegard Mousasi vs. Fabian Edwards
Bellator MMA Middleweight champion, Johnny Eblen, is currently in France to take in all the action and scout his next potential opponent as Mousasi and Edwards collide to see who will earn the next title shot. Eblen already has a win over Mousasi, so he’d like his chances there, while Edwards provides a fresh match up. Mousasi hasn’t competed since losing to Eblen one year ago, so he is motived to get that one back. Against Edwards, however, Mousasi will be facing a rejuvenated contender who is on a two-fight win streak, which was preceded by a two-fight skid. Edwards is longing for his first shot at the strap and to join his brother and current UFC Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, in the championship circle. The challenge here is that he will be facing one of the most experienced active fighters in the game, as Mousasi boasts more than 70 professional fights to his credit. So, legend or not, “Dream Catcher” will be privy to anything and everything Edwards throws his way, so he will have to be able to use every tool in his arsenal to get the win.
Prediction: Mousasi via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Brent Primus vs. Mansour Barnaoui
Primus wasn’t originally one of the eight finalists for the Grand Prix, but after Sidney Outlaw was forced out with an injury, an opportunity arose for him to get into the mix. He will be facing another dark horse in the tournament in Barnaoui, who will be taking part in just his second fight with the promotion. The fighting Frenchman made a successful debut at Bellator 287, submitting Adam Piccolotti. The win extended his win streak to eight in a row dating back seven years. He isn’t a stranger to winning tournaments, having won the Road FC $1 million tournament in May 2019, so winning Bellator’s Grand Prix will be a similar feeling. While Primus did taste Bellator gold in 2017, he has been very inconsistent since, losing his title in his first defense and earning just a 3-2 record in that span. He is coming off a knockout loss to Alexandr Shabliy at Bellator 282, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from that crushing defeat. Though he has championship pedigree, Primus might be a little out-matched here because Barnaoui is on a hot streak that doesn’t look to cool down anytime soon. What makes Barnaoui’s run even more impressive is the fact that he has finished every single one of his opponents.
Prediction: Barnaoui via third round submission
185 lbs.: Douglas Lima vs. Costello Van Steenis
Since winning the Welterweight title in 2019, Lima has been on one of the coldest streaks in recent memory. Kind of hard to believe, right? He has since lost four straight fights, which includes failing to defeat Gegard Mousasi for the Middleweight strap, losing his 170-pound title to Yaroslav Amosov, and then coming up short against Michael Page and Jason Jackson. He will try to bounce back against Van Steenis, who has been lighting it up inside the Bellator cage. With a record of 6-1 with the promotion, Van Steenis actually holds a win over headliner Fabian Edwards. That’s more than enough to show just how talented he really is. I can’t fathom how he is ranked No. 10, but a win over Lima will help him climb up the ranks. Not that he needed to, but he caught Lima in one of the most vulnerable times of his career, so he could find a huge advantage in that. If Lima comes up short, he will really have to rethink his career moving forward. All that said, I just don’t see things getting any better for the former champion after he goes 15 minutes with “The Spaniard.” While I don’t except a complete shutout, he will be out-worked and lose his fifth in a row.
Prediction: Van Steenis via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Thibault Gouti vs. Kane Mousah
Gouti and Mousah will kick things off on the main card in a battle of two 155-pound contenders looking to make some moves toward the Top 10. Gouti is coming off a loss to Alfie Davis, snapping his four-fight win streak. Mousah, meanwhile, has alternated wins and losses during his time with the promotion to score a 2-2 record. That won’t cut it if he wants a ranking. While a win here won’t get him there, it’s still a big step for both men. Following his big win over Georgi Karakhanyan, Mousah is trying to break his win-loss pattern to earn his first back-to-back wins in nearly five years. I just don’t see it happening here because Gouti is just a bit more-well rounded and has more tools to get the job done.
Prediction: Gouti via second round submission
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