Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
This week we check in once again on the resident Bellator MMA who is still hosting events exclusively from their fighter bubble inside the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. This week's installment; Bellator 259 comes to you Friday night from the Mohegan Sun Arena and there is no shortage of New England based tales to be told surrounding this fight card, an event that will culminate with the Bellator Women's Featherweight title on the line as reigning Champion and Women's MMA legend; Cris Cyborg (23-2) defends her Bellator Crown against Challenger Leslie Smith (12-8-1). This will be the second time that Cyborg and Smith have met during their storied careers, in their first matchup Cyborg needed just 1:21 of the first round to dispatch Smith with punches at UFC 198: Werdum vs. Miocic in the first half of 2016, at a Catchweight of 140 pounds.
We pick up our first taste of New England MMA action with a Preliminary bout in the Heavyweight Division; some may have thought a first round Knockout loss at the hands of Jamelle "The Beast" Jones (11-6) at CES 61 in October of 2020 would be the last time we saw New England Heavyweight veteran Tyler King (12-9) enter the cage as a professional. But as it turns out that is simply not the case, King returns to the Bellator cage for the first time in over five years as he draws surging Heavyweight prospect "All Day" Davion Franklin (2-0). New England fans will remember the Davion Franklin name from his last appearance, against Tyler King arch enemy; Ras Hylton (6-5) at Bellator 246 last September. Franklin used Hammerfists (illegal or otherwise) to send Hylton away from the Bellator cage strapped to a stretcher, awarding Franklin his second victory inside the Bellator cage by second round Technical Decision.
Hylton and King have been clamoring for a bout with one another, the two towering New England Heavyweights just straight up don't like each other and looked to be on a collision course in New England's Heavyweight division, however, somehow the fight has never come to fruition. Now in a somewhat ironic turn of events Tyler King lines himself up with Hylton's former foe; in an attempt to prove that he has the talent to handle the wrestling heavy; "All Day" Davion Franklin. It's hard to imagine that Tyler King's second round Rear Naked Choke of Josh Diekmann at Bellator 163 in November of 2016 was the last time Tyler King had his hand raised inside an MMA cage, King has the odds stacked against him as he looks to put an end to his current 5 fight (5 first round Knockout losses) losing streak Friday night against Jackson-Wink scholar;Davion Franklin.
New England action then pops up in the Women's Flyweight Division as Cage Titans veteran and South Shore fan favorite Kristina "The Meat Grinder" Katsikis (1-1) makes her Bellator MMA debut against highly touted Hawaiian prospect; Sumiko Inaba (1-0). Following a 6-1 Amateur career, Sumiko Inaba made her leap to the professional ranks under the Ballator banner last November at Bellator 251 with an impressive first round Ground and Pound finish of New York's Jessica Ruiz (0-2). Inaba makes her second Bellator appearance Friday night and receives a step up in competition as she squares off with Jeep driving, Golden Retriever Mom; Kristina Katsikis.
A natural athlete with witty grappling techniques and the grittiness required to bite down on her mouthpiece and go to war, Kristina Katsikis grew up before our very eyes in the Cage Titans FC cage. 2-1 overall for the Plymouth, Massachusetts based promotion "The Meat Grinder" has gone the distance in each of her contests dating back to her Amateur debut, a Split-Decision win over Tara Pires at Cage Titans 41. Katsikis has the physicality to hang with anyone in the Women's Flyweight division, if she can bring a dirty fight to the surging Inaba under the bright lights at Bellator Friday night she would be staring down the biggest win of her career (by far) and a missive upset over a top level prospect in Sumiko Inaba.
Bellator 259 will also welcome the New England return of former CES MMA Lightweight Champion Nate "The Snake" Andrews (16-3). After capturing the CES Lightweight Championship with a second round sub of Chris Padilla (9-4) at CES 49, "The Snake" followed up with two successful title defenses, finishing both by submission, for the hometown CES MMA before signing on for PFL's 2019 Lightweight season, where he bookended a decision victory over Rashid Magomedov (25-5-1) with a pair of decision losses to Long Island's Chris Wade (18-6). With Andrew's PFL contract expiring after the 2019 season, Andrews signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA. After scheduled fights with both Killys Mota and Goiti Yamauchi never made the Bellator cage in 2020 Andrews' Bellator debut was push back until 2021, and that debut comes this Friday night when Andrews now faces Bellator MMA veteran; Saad Awad (23-13) in the featured prelim at Bellator 259.
Veteran of 22 appearances for Bellator MMA Saad "Assassin" Awad will be looking to shake the cobwebs of a current five fight winless streak under the Bellator MMA banner, albiet to top Bellator competition. After an illegal, but unintentional, low blow by his opponent Mandel Nallo (8-1) would not allow Awad to continue at Bellator 249 resulting in a no contest, Awad will now be looking for his first win in his last six contests Friday night against Nate "The Snake" Andrews. The always game Saad Awad welcomes a return to New England for Andrews who hopes to make a statement in his Bellator MMA debut against a savvy MMA veteran. Andrews looks to position himself inside a stacked Bellator MMA Lightweight top 10 with an impressive victory at Bellator 259, right in "The Snakes" own back yard at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Below is a look at the entire Bellator 259 card (subject to change) as well as your guide for when and where to tune in this Friday, May 21st.
Main Card: 9 pm/ ET on Showtime
Main Event: (C) Cris Cyborg (23-2) vs. #4 Leslie Smith (12-8-1)
Women's Featherweight Championship
Co-Main Event: Darrion Caldwell (15-4) vs. #6 Leandro Higo (20-5)
#3 Austin Vanderford (10-0) vs. #4 Fabian Edwards (9-1)
Jaleel Willis (14-2) vs. Maycon Mendonca (11-4)
#9 Christian Edwards (4-0) vs. Ben Parrish (4-1)
Prelims: Streamed Live 5:30 pm/ ET on the Bellator MMA YouTube Channel
Saad Awad (23-13) vs. Nate Andrews (16-3)
#7 Grant Neal (5-0) vs. #8 Tyree Fortune (5-0)
Sumiko Inaba (1-0) vs. Kristina Katsikis (1-1)
Aviv Gozali (5-0) vs. Sean Felton (5-2-1)
#8 Valerie Loureda (3-0) vs. Hannah Guy (2-1)
Davion Franklin (2-0) vs. Tyler King (12-9)
#6 Janay Harding (6-4) vs. #7 Leah McCourt (4-1)
Brett Johns (17-2) vs. Danny Sabatello (10-1)
Alexander Shabliy (19-3) vs. #9 Alfie Davis (14-3)