Storylines: Bellator Champions Series 2

Revenge can be a powerful motive, and Magomed Magomedov certainly hopes it can push him across the finish line in his quest for Bellator MMA gold.

The Russian grappler will challenge Patrick Mix for his undisputed bantamweight title in the Bellator Champions Series 2 headliner on Friday at Accor Arena in Paris. Magomedov has rattled off seven wins in nine outings since his two-fight series with Petr Yan ended in defeat a little more than seven years ago. The former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder holds a 4-2 record in Bellator, his victories over Matheus Mattos, C.J. Hamilton, Enrique Barzola and Danny Sabatello offset by a decision defeat to Raufeon Stots on Aug. 13, 2021 and a submission loss to Mix on Dec. 9, 2022. Magomedov, 32, last fought at a Bellator-Rizin Fighting Federation co-promotion in July, when he put away the aforementioned Sabatello with a first-round guillotine. Mix, meanwhile, has established himself as one of the sport’s elite bantamweights. The 30-year-old Xtreme Couture standout enters his first title defense on the strength of a six-fight winning streak. Mix has delivered more than half (13) of his 19 professional wins by submission, including a second-round rear-naked choke finish on Sergio Pettis in his most recent outing at Bellator 301 on Nov. 17.

The Mix-Magomedov rematch and its repercussions for the bantamweight division is but one storyline to watch at Bellator Champions Series 2. Here are three more:

Redemption Road

The idea that Cedric Doumbe could leave fans wanting more would have been implausible mere months ago. Yet there he stood in March, the losing party in one of the most bizarre finishes in recent memory—his technical knockout defeat to Baissangour Chamsoudinov under the Professional Fighters League banner the result of a splinter somehow lodging itself into his toe. Doumbe twice motioned to referee Marc Goddard in the third round, prompting the stoppage. The decorated French kickboxer gets his crack at redemption when he makes his Bellator debut opposite Jaleel Willis in the welterweight co-headliner. Doumbe had dispatched his first five opponents with punches prior to his ill-fated encounter with Chamsoudinov, including a sensational nine-second knockout of Jordan Zebo at PFL Europe 3 on Sept. 30. Willis serves as an interesting potential foil. The 32-year-old former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion remains as confident as ever—his pre-fight trash talk drew the attention of Chael Sonnen, of all people—despite his having three of his past four bouts. Does Doumbe put his embarrassing misstep behind him and re-establish himself as a box-office draw in his native France?

Royal Treatment

Everything seems to have lined up for Gregory Babene. The 40-year-old Frenchman can position himself as the next No. 1 contender for reigning middleweight champion Johnny Eblen when he collides with Costello van Steenis in a three-round title eliminator at 185 pounds. Babene has plenty of momentum from which to draw, as he finds himself on a personal-best eight-fight winning streak that now spans more than 3,600 days. The Atch Academy ace last suited up at Bellator 299, where he took care of SBG Ireland’s Charlie Ward with a guillotine choke just 63 seconds into their Sept. 23 pairing. It was the 18th first-round finish of Babene’s career. On the other side of the equation, van Steenis has won eight of his past 10 bouts. The MMA Vlaardingen export has not competed since he dropped a unanimous decision to Douglas Lima at Bellator 296 a year ago, the setback coming on the heels of back-to-back victories over Fabian Edwards and Kamil Oniszczuk. Van Steenis, 31, has never been stopped as a pro. Can Babene hold off Father Time and clear the only remaining hurdle standing between him and a shot at the middleweight crown?

Scratching the Surface

Several high-ceiling prospects are booked for duty, as Archie Colgan takes on Thibault Gouti at lightweight, Slim Trabelsi dukes it out with Louie Sutherland at heavyweight, Imamshafi Aliev toes the line against Mike Shipman at middleweight and Bruno Fontes does battle with Asael Adjoudj at featherweight. Colgan may be the group’s most intriguing member and looks to be the furthest along in his development. The 28-year-old Denver native wrestled collegiately at the University of Wyoming, where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier and compiled an impressive 111-41 record for the Cowboys. Colgan transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2019 and turned pro less than two years later, winning all nine of his bouts to date. He has gone 6-0 since he joined the Bellator roster in August 2021, his run highlighted by a unanimous decision over two-time featherweight title challenge Emmanuel Sanchez on June 16. Will the cream rise to the top?

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Who will leave Paris with the Bellator bantamweight title?



Kade Ruotolo