Bellator 280: The Line Up

Main Card:

Heavyweight World Title Bout: C-Ryan Bader (29-7) vs. #2-Cheick Kongo (31-11-2)

The Bellator 280 main event features a rematch nearly three years in the making. Ryan Bader will look to make his second successful defense of the Bellator Heavyweight Championship when he once again takes on Cheick Kongo. Back in 2019, their first meeting ended abruptly near the end of the first round due to an eye poke. As a result, the bout was deemed a no-contest and thus Bader retained his title. Bader has gone 2-2 in Bellator since their first meeting, including a successful heavyweight title defense against Valentin Moldavsky in his most recent fight. Kongo has only fought twice since their initial meeting, going 1-1 over that stretch. He lost his next fight in a close split decision to Tim Johnson. However, Cheick did secure a submission victory in his last bout with a second to spare in the second round. Both men had notable runs in the UFC earlier in their careers, as they combine for 38 fights with that promotion.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Yoel Romero (13-6) vs. #7-Alex Polizzi (10-1)

Yoel Romero returns to the Bellator cage to take on last minute replacement Alex Polizzi. Romero is currently on a four fight losing skid, although he was very recently known as one of the best middleweights in the world. Some of his best wins are over guys like Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza, and many others. He is a dangerous, explosive striker with an Olympic-credentialed wrestling ability to fall back on. He lost his Bellator debut via split decision to Phil Davis back in September. Alex Polizzi is taking this fight on eight day’s notice in what many are saying is the biggest fight of his life. He is fifteen years younger than Romero and enjoying the momentum of a three fight winning streak. The former LFA champ has finished 80% of his victories and has only lost professionally to Julius Anglickas.

Lightweight Bout: Davy Gallon (20-7-2) vs. Benjamin Brander (13-8)

Davy Gallon will face off against Benjamin Brander in a lightweight bout. Davy is a Frenchman with a judo base, riding the momentum of a four fight winning streak. He is currently 2-0 inside the Bellator cage and has been fighting professionally for over a decade now. Gallon most recently finished Charlie Leary with a right hook at Bellator 275, but is most known for his rolling thunder kick KO of Ross Pearson back in 2019. Benjamin Brander is a Swiss fighter who is also a decade-long veteran of the fight game. Ben has finished 69% of his victories and is 34 years of age. This fight will mark his Bellator debut.

Middleweight Bout: Lorenz Larkin (23-7) vs. Kyle Stewart (15-5)

Lorenz Larkin will face off against Kyle Stewart in a middleweight bout. Larkin has had to deal with two opponents pulling out during this camp, making Kyle Stewart the third opponent he has signed up to fight on this card. Lorenz has been fighting professionally since 2009 with organizations such as StrikeForce, the UFC, and now Bellator. He is on a five fight winning streak and has several high profile wins in his career; Robbie Lawler, Jorge Masvidal, and Neil Magny. Also important to note that his only two Bellator losses came at the hands of Paul Daley and Douglas Lima. Kyle Stewart has finished 66% of his victories and is taking this fight after securing a decision win just a month prior. Stewart is known as a fast starter, holding a 12 second and 7 second KO finish on his record.

Middleweight Bout: Mike Shipman (14-3) vs. Gregory Babene (21-11)

Mike Shipman will open up the Bellator 280 main card when he takes on Gregory Babene in a middleweight bout. Shipman may be on a one fight winning streak, but he did at one time hold a 13 fight unbeaten streak earlier in his career. He currently trains out of London Shootfighters alongside Michael Page. Mike has finished 92% of his wins by nature of his heavy hands and diverse submission game. He also holds a ten second KO victory at Bellator 200. His record with Bellator is 5-2 since joining the promotion in 2016. Gregory Babene is a 38 year old Frenchman on a six fight winning streak. His last eight victories are by submission, totaling 12 of those victories throughout his career. He had a brief three fight stint with Bellator in 2016/2017 which saw him victorious all three times by submission.

Preliminary Card:

Featherweight Bout: Pedro Carvalho (12-5) vs. Piotr Niedzielski (16-4) 

Pedro Carvalho will headline the Bellator 280 preliminary card when he takes on Piotr Niedzielski in a featherweight bout. Carvalho is a Portugal-born fighter who trains out of SBG Ireland. He is only 26 years old and has been fighting professionally for a decade. He has a 66% finishing rate, with half of his victories coming by way of submission. Pedro most recently defeated Daniel Weichel in Dublin at Bellator 270. Piotr Niedzielski is making his Bellator debut on about a month’s notice. Piotr has been flourishing in Poland, as he is now on an eight fight winning streak. 11 of his 16 wins are by finish, and six of those are by submission. Niedzielski also made his professional debut in 2010 at the age of 19.

Welterweight Bout: Lewis Long (19-6) vs. Thibault Gouti (15-5)

Lewis Long faces off against Thibault Gouti in a welterweight bout. Lewis is a Welsh fighter with a nasty submission game. 12 of his 19 professional victories have come by way of submission, including his four most recent fights. He is on a two fight winning streak, with his most recent victory being over Michael Dubois. His last four fights have all ended inside the first round. Thibault Gouti is a Frenchman who will be making his Bellator debut. He is on a three fight winning streak, including a first round finish in his last fight back in March. He went 1-5 with the UFC from 2016-2018, and took a three year layoff after his departure with the company.

Featherweight Bout: Fabacary Diatta (8-0) vs. Jordan Barton (6-2-1)

Fabacary Diatta will put his undefeated record on the line when he faces off against Jordan Barton. Diatta is yet another Frenchman on this card, but only 25 years old. He is a product of 100% Fight and is 2-0 since joining Bellator in 2020. You may remember Fabacary from his victory over current Cage Warriors champion Dominique Wooding. Barton is four years older than Diatta and represents England. He earned every amateur victory by (T)KO and began his career with two knockouts that in total amassed 67 seconds. You may remember Jordan from his last fight in which he was submitted by Ciaran Clarke at Bellator 270.

160-Pound Contract Weight Bout: Soren Bak (15-1) vs. Charlie Leary (17-12-1)

Soren Bak will face off against Charlie Leary at a catchweight of 160 pounds (72.57 kg). Soren Bak is the former lightweight and interim featherweight champion over at Cage Warriors. He is cruising on a seven fight unbeaten streak, including two straight in Bellator. You may remember Soren from his victory over Paddy Pimblett at Cage Warriors 96 when he captured the vacant lightweight title. 39 year old Charlie Leary is stepping up for this fight on short notice. Charlie was defeated back in February when he was finished by Davvy Gallon at Bellator 275. The Englishman’s last victory came over Kiefer Crosbie via doctor’s stoppage back in 2020.

Lightweight Bout: Yves Landu (16-9) vs. Gavin Hughes (10-2)

Yves Landu takes on Gavin Hughes in a lightweight bout. Yves is a 12 year veteran of the fight game with 25 bouts under his belt. The Frenchman debuted in Bellator with a flying knee KO at Bellator 248. He is however, coming off of a loss to Tim Wilde back in October. Yves is also the former 100% Fight Lightweight Champion from his days on the French regional scene. Gavin Hughes is fighting for the first time since his 2020 loss to Daniel Scatizzi. He is a seven year veteran who has only been to a decision once through twelve fights. “Big Tasty” trains with Health Fitness FIght Solution and represents Liverpool, England.

Welterweight Bout: Nicolò Solli (3-1) vs. Levy Carriel (3-0) 

Nicolò Solli will take on Levy Carriel in a welterweight bout. Solli is an Italian-born 24 year old fighting out of SBG Ireland. All three of his victories have come by finish, two by submission. Solli most recently fought Bobby Pallett to a no contest at Bellator 270. Levy Carriel is a Frenchman with just two fights on his record, one in 2017 and one in 2021. Both of his victories are by finish, one submission and one knockout. He is stepping up on short notice to make his Bellator debut.

Flyweight Bout: Lucie Bertaud (3-3) vs. Katarzyna Sadura (5-4)

Lucie Bertaud will face off against Katarzyna Sadura in a flyweight bout. Lucie crossed over to MMA from her boxing and muay thai career, and she benefits greatly from her experience as an MMA reporter. She came through the ranks of UAE Warriors, Titan FC, and the IMMAF, to eventually make her Bellator debut at Bellator 248. She will look for her first win since that fight, as she has since lost outside of the promotion. Katarzyna Sadura is a former WSFC champion who has only been to a decision once. The Polish fighter once fought Sinead Kavanagh to a first round TKO loss at a BAMMA event in 2016. She also won her first two professional fights via first round knockout, which took her 0:16 and 0:20 respectively. 

Middleweight Bout: Youcef Ouabbas (2-0) vs. Matthieu Letho (2-1)

Youcef Ouabbas will look to remain perfect when he faces off against Matthieu Letho in a middleweight bout. Youcef debuted in 2018, then continued his winning ways into the following year before taking a break through the pandemic. Now off the heels of a knockout finish in 2019, the Frenchman will look to remain undefeated in his Bellator debut. Matthieu Letho is also French and on a two fight winning streak. Letho picked up a win in his last performance where he won via stoppage (corner threw towel). Both these men also faced Lois Laurent in their second career fights, where they both picked up victories.

Welterweight Bout: Victor Verchere (5-1) vs. Bourama Camara (4-1)

Victor Verchere will open up the preliminary card when he takes on Bourama Camara. Victor most recently suffered his first career loss last July, but before then he was undefeated through five fights. This fight will also mark the Brazilian’s Bellator debut. Bourama Camara is also coming off of the first loss of his career back in July. Camara has a sundry submission game and holds power in his punches, which has resulted in him earning three stoppage victories throughout his early career.

Massachusetts native currently writing for Severe MMA. Former writer for Neutral Zone LLC. Follow me on Twitter @lander_theo, LinkedIn and Youtube @ Theo Lander for articles and event coverage.