Bellator 276 Preview

Bellator’s March event features a trio of top contender bouts which all the propensity to affect the title pictures in their respective divisions.

Mads Burnell vs Adam Borics

Mads Burnell rallied from an unfortunate UFC run between 2017 and 2018 and now finds himself headlining a Bellator card. In his UFC run, Burnell went 1-2 with a decision victory over Mike Santiago and submission losses to Michel Prazeres and Arnold Allen. Since his UFC release, Burnell has put together a seven-fight win streak leading into Saturday’s main event. During this run, Burnell has picked up notable victories over Dean Trueman (which netted him the Cage Warriors Featherweight Championship), The Ultimate Fighter season 22 veteran Saul Rogers, and top Bellator contender Emmanuel Sanchez. Burnell is a savvy grappler doing his best work when he is on top of his opponent. Particularly noteworthy is Burnell’s front headlock series, as he has demonstrated a particular penchant for the Japanese Necktie – having won four bouts with the move. Against a kickboxer in Borics, expect Burnell to try to bully Borics to the ground and work from the top position. Should Borics give up his back or a front headlock, Burnell will likely take the opportunity to dive on any opening for a choke.

Hungarian Adam Borics has rebounded from his loss to Darrion Caldwell during the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix with three straight victories over the likes of Mike Hamel, Erick Sanchez, and UFC veteran Jeremy Kennedy. Borics now finds himself tied with his opponent, Burnell, as the second-ranked Featherweight contender in Bellator. Against Burnell, Borics will be looking to replicate his form that initially brought him to prominence. Namely, Borics will likely look to deploy a ranged kickboxing game against Burnell and perhaps set up a flying knee – a move responsible for Borics’ two biggest victories over Aaron Pico and former Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran respectively. Borics will need to be constantly wary of the takedown threat of Burnell as his last bout with Kennedy showed that he can be controlled by opponents when they achieve the top position on him.

Phil Davis vs. Julius Anglickas

 Former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Phil Davis finds himself in an unenviable position. Davis has two losses to the current Champion, Vadim Nemkov, and will likely be hovering in the upper echelon of the division until the title changes hands. Despite the two losses to Nemkov, Davis has put together an impressive run in Bellator with a 10-3 record in the promotion. He holds notable Bellator victories over former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion “King” Mo Lawal, former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Liam McGeary (twice), former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida, and most recently former UFC Middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero. While tepid at times, Davis has mixed up his offence quite effectively through his Bellator run. Davis has demonstrated a dangerous head kick behind his right hand, fantastic wrestling, and good positional control. Against Anglickas, Davis will enjoy a significant grappling advantage and will likely look to put together some offence on the feet before getting the fight to the ground and possibly hunting for a fight-ending submission.

Julius Anglickas went from Bellator Light Heavyweight tournament alternate to Light Heavyweight title challenger last year when he got the opportunity to replace Anthony Johnson opposite Champion Vadim Nemkov. While Anglickas would go on to lose the bout to Nemkov, he showed extreme durability prior to succumbing to a fourth-round Kimura finish.  While Anglickas’ record is not as extensive as Davis’, Anglickas has had his fair share of moments on a large platform having competed numerous times for Bellator and even having won his bout on Dana White’s Contender Series (though he was not awarded a contract). Anglickas is at his best when he can dominate opponents with superior strength – be it through heavier strikes or working from a dominant position on the ground. Against Davis, this will be quite difficult given Davis himself is extremely athletic. Anglickas’ best path to victory will be to put Davis on his backfoot by constantly pressuring him while still being wary of the takedown. If Anglickas can walk Davis down and stuff his takedown attempts, Davis may tire and eventually wilt under the constant pressure and volume that Anglickas can put on him.

John Salter vs. Johnny Eblen

John Salter has carved out quite a place for himself in Bellator. Salter initially came on the radar during his time in the UFC back in 2010 where he went 1-2 in the promotion. In 2015, Salter debuted in Bellator having gained a significant amount of experience on the regional scene. To this point, Salter has amassed a record of 8-2 in Bellator with seven of those wins coming via stoppage. Salter’s win column includes names such as current UFC Light Heavyweight Dustin Jacoby, former Bellator Middleweight Champion Brandon Halsey, The Ultimate Fighter season three winner Kendall Grove, and current UFC Middleweight fighter Chidi Njokuani. When it comes to grappling, Salter is a menace having notched six of his eight Bellator wins via submission. Expect Salter to consistently look to get Eblen to the mat through any means. Once there, Salter will constantly put together submission tries no matter the position that he finds himself in.

Undefeated at 10-0, Johnny Eblen could be one win away from a shot against Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi. Eblen has accumulated an undefeated 6-0 record in the promotion thus far and currently sits as the third-ranked contender in the division. Eblen’s Bellator run includes noteworthy victories over Taylor Johnson and Collin Huckbody, the latter taking just over a minute to dispatch of. “Diamond Hands” is well-versed, having demonstrated powerful punches alongside solid wrestling ability. Against Salter, Eblen will likely look to stop the takedown and look to spark the long-time veteran with some big shots on the feet. Should he win impressively, it would be difficult to deny Eblen a shot at Mousasi.

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