Bubba Jenkins / Bellator MMA
Georgi Karakhanyan / Bellator MMA
Michael Page / Bellator MMA
Curtis Millender / Dave Mandel
Bellator MMA officials have announced the addition of a pair of action-packed matchups for the launch of the promotion’s 2015 season, as featherweights Bubba “The Highlight Kid” Jenkins (8-1) and Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan (23-4-1) clash at the campaign’s debut Bellator: Pitbull vs. Straus event, and fast-rising, welterweight superstar Michael “Venom” Page (7-0) meets undefeated prospect “Curtious” Curtis Millender (7-0) six weeks later at Bellator: The British Invasion.
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker announced the two sure-fire thrillers while a guest on Monday’s new edition of “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani.
“We have some fantastic plans for 2015, and I can’t wait for fans to see what we’ve been working on behind the scenes,” Coker said following the announcement. “These two new matchups both look incredibly exciting on paper, and I really think these first two events will set an incredible pace for the new year that we’ll be looking to keep for all of 2015.”
Featuring a Bellator Featherweight World Title fight between Brazilian striker and current champ Patricio Pitbull (22-2) and former champion Daniel Straus (23-5), Bellator: Pitbull vs. Straus takes place on Friday, Jan. 16, at Pechanga Casino Resort in Temecula, Calif.
Jenkins vs. Karakhanyan serves as the night’s co-main event.
Meanwhile, with British slugger Paul Daley (35-13-2) challenging Douglas Lima (26-5) for his Bellator Welterweight World Title and undefeated Englishman Liam McGreary (9-0) trying to take the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Title from champion Emanuel Newton (25-7-1), Bellator: The British Invasion takes place on Friday, Feb. 27, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Page vs. Millender will be the fifth and final main-card matchup at the event, which features five of the United Kingdom’s top fighters.
Tickets for Bellator: Pitbull vs. Straus and Bellator: The British Invasion are on sale now and can be purchased at Bellator.com.
Both events air live on Spike TV following preliminary bouts that stream on Spike.com.
Jenkins is a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion at Arizona State University who also earned All-American honors during a stint at Penn State University. Just 26 years old, Jenkins has already fought six times under the Bellator MMA banner and is considered one of the top prospects in the featherweight division, where he’s earned a 2-0 mark since dropping down from 155 pounds.
Meanwhile, Karakhanyan returns to Bellator MMA for a second run after nearly three years away from the organization. A two-time featherweight tournament participant, Karakhanyan went 9-1 in his time away from the promotion and picked up championship belts in the World Series of Fighting and Tachi Palace Fights organizations.
The 27-year-old Page is a multiple-time world kickboxing champion who boasts some of the flashiest and most unorthodox striking in all of MMA. The Englishman’s seven professional MMA victories include six first-round stoppages, a run that also saw him score a 10-second knockout victory in his Bellator MMA debut. Most recently, Page earned a hard-fought decision win over Nah-Shon Burrell at October’s Bellator 128 event.
The undefeated Millender made his professional debut in February 2013 but has already picked up seven victories while fighting exclusively under California’s Fight Club OC banner. He’s shown the ability to fight until the final bell, picking up five wins by decision, but he’s also flashed the ability to end fights in a single blow with both 48-second and 34-second knockout wins to his credit.
Bellator: Pitbull vs. Straus – Friday, Jan. 16, Pechanga Casino Resort, Temecula, Calif.
Featherweight Title Fight: Champ Patricio Pitbull (22-2) vs. Daniel Straus (23-5)
Featherweight Feature Fight: Bubba Jenkins (8-1) and Georgi Karakhanyan (23-4-1)
Bellator: The British Invasion – Friday, Feb. 27, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.
Welterweight Title Fight: Champ Douglas Lima (26-5) vs. Paul Daley (35-13)
Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Champ Emanuel Newton (25-7) vs. Liam McGeary (9-0)
Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Sokoudjou (16-12) vs. Linton Vassell (14-4)
Heavyweight Feature Fight: Bobby Lashley (12-2) vs. James Thompson (20-14)
Welterweight Feature Fight: Michael Page (7-0) vs. Curtis Millender (7-0)
By: Michelle Luce
Images provided by Bellator MMA