“Bellator MMA: British Invasion” adds seven preliminary contests, including Butler vs. Diekmann, Juarez vs. Ward, Butcher vs. McCrory
Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel “The Hardcore Kid” Newton (25-7) puts his title on the line against undefeated Englishman Liam McGeary (9-0) in the main event of “Bellator MMA: British Invasion” on Feb. 27, and with a five-fight Spike TV-televised main card already in place, the night’s six-fight Spike.com-streamed preliminary card is now set, as well.
The official additions to the preliminary card include heavyweights Raphael “The Silencer” Butler (8-1-1) vs. Josh “The Freight Train” Diekmann (15-5), welterweights Jesse Juarez (22-9) vs. Brennan “The Irish Bad Boy” Ward (9-3) and middleweights Jason Butcher (8-1) vs. Tamdan “The Barn Cat” McCrory (12-3), welterweights Bobby Flynn (4-2) vs. Neiman Gracie (2-0), bantamweights Marvin “The Bulldog” Maldonado (2-3) vs. Blair Tugman (6-5) and bantamweights Randy Costa (0-0) vs. Carlos Hernandez (1-1).
A seventh preliminary bout, featuring six-time Bellator MMA veteran Matt “The Mangler” Bessette (13-6) against fellow featherweight Josh LaBerge (9-4) – who enters the bout on a seven-fight winning streak – takes place after the night’s Spike TV-broadcast main card and is being held exclusively for the evening’s live audience.
Tickets for “Bellator: British Invasion,” which start at just $25, are already on sale at Ticketmaster.com and Bellator.com. The night’s finalized lineup will be announced shortly.
The three new matchups all stream live on Spike.com beginning at 6:45 p.m. ET (3:45 p.m. PT local time) and precede the evening’s five-fight Spike TV-televised main card (9 p.m. ET).
Butler, of Rochester, Minn., has been fighting professionally since 2010 and opened his career with nine consecutive victories, including three-straight knockout wins under the Bellator MMA banner. The 31-year-old slugger has fought to a decision just once in his professional career and owns six career knockout wins and two victories by submission. Meanwhile, Diekmann, of Groton, Conn., is also a heavy-handed slugger who boasts 11 career victories by knockout and another four by submission. The 38-year-old heavyweight owns a pair of Bellator MMA wins – both of which averaged just under one minute in length.
Juarez, of Torrance, Calif., is a familiar face on the West Coast fight scene who has been competing professionally since 2006. The 33-year-old made his Bellator MMA debut in the promotion’s second event and has since earned a 6-1 mark competing for the promotion. He now meets Ward, of Waterford, Conn., a onetime Bellator MMA Middleweight Title Challenger who has been competing exclusively for the promotion since 2012. The 26-year-old former Division III All-American wrestler has developed into a heavy-handed mixed-martial-artist, owning six career wins by knockout.
Butcher, of Huntington, W.V., is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Jorge Gurgel who makes his seventh appearance for Bellator MMA. All eight of Butcher’s career wins have come by way of finish, with five submissions and three knockouts, while his lone loss came by way of decision. McCrory, of Cortland, N.Y., recently returned from a five-year layoff to register a devastating first-round knockout victory, needed just 21 seconds to secure the win.
Flynn, of Mashpee, Mass., competes under the Bellator MMA banner for the first time and has never fought to a judges’ decision in six professional contests. He meets New York resident Gracie, a Renzo Gracie pupil who also makes his Bellator MMA debut.
Maldonado, of Latham, N.Y., is also a Renzo Gracie fighter who has made two previous Bellator MMA appearances but is still in search of his first win. He meets Tugman, of North Haven, Conn., who earned a Bellator MMA win over Brandon Fleming in September.
Costa, of Tauton, Mass., makes his professional debut against Hernandez, of Lynn, Mass., who has earned split results in his first two contests.
“Bellator: British Invasion” – Friday, February 27, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.
Main Card (9 p.m. ET)
Bellator Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Champ Emanuel Newton (25-7) vs. Liam McGeary (9-0)
Bellator Welterweight Feature Fight: Paul Daley (35-13) vs. Andre Santos (37-9)
Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Cheick Kongo (22-9-2) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (14-4)
Bellator Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Rameau Sokoudjou (16-12) vs. Linton Vassell (14-4)
Bellator Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Michael Page (7-0) vs. Curtis Millender (7-0)
Preliminary Card (6:45 p.m. ET)
Bellator Bantamweight Prelim Fight: Randy Costa (0-0) vs. Carlos Hernandez (1-1)
Bellator Heavyweight Prelim Fight: Raphael Butler (8-1-1) vs. Josh Diekmann (15-5)
Bellator Welterweight Prelim Fight: Jesse Juarez (22-9) vs. Brennan Ward (9-3)
Bellator Middleweight Prelim Fight: Jason Butcher (8-1) vs. Tamdan McCrory (12-3)
Bellator Welterweight Prelim Fight: Bobby Flynn (4-2) vs. Neiman Gracie (2-0)
Bellator Bantamweight Prelim Fight: Marvin Maldonado (2-2) vs. Blair Tugman (6-5)
Dark Bout (approx. 11 p.m. ET)
Bellator Featherweight Dark Fight: Matt Bessette (13-6) vs. Josh Laberge (9-4)