.@BellatorMMA’s return to @Accor_Arena is booked for May 12 featuring a wealth of European talent.— Bellator Public Relations (@BellatorPR) January 12, 2023
Former champion Gegard @Mousasi_MMA will return against @FabianEdwards24 in the main event, while @MansourBarnaoui faces @SidOutlaw in a LWGP quarterfinal. https://t.co/5e1Zz4dHHx pic.twitter.com/0nG36XANHF
Bellator MMA is officially going back to France this year.
Mousasi saw his championship run at 185 pounds come to a grinding halt at the hands of unbeaten Johnny Eblen in June 2022, suffering his first defeat since winning his belt back in 2020. The loss to Eblen put an end to his second reign – a feat no other middleweight titleholder has achieved in Bellator – and one that saw him register at least one defense in each run. “The Dreamcatcher” posts a solid finish rate of 82% as a pro, with a career littered with wins over names like Chris Weidman, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort and Mark Hunt, to name a few.
Edwards rebounded off a pair of decision defeats to Costello van Steenis in 2020 and Austin Vanderford in 2021 by putting on a decent 2022 campaign. A first-round knockout over Lyoto Machida led to a match with Charlie Ward, and Edwards had his hand raised courtesy of the scorecards in his favor. Before losing to van Steenis, Edwards had strung together nine straight wins to begin his career, including five in the Bellator ranks.
Carrying on the 155-pound quarterfinals – a tournament that will commence in March – Outlaw and Barnaoui will throw down to advance. The brackets are not yet determined, but the victor may square off against the winner of the unannounced A.J. McKee vs. Patricky Freire battle likely coming in the first quarter of 2023. Outlaw has gone 2-2 in his last four dating back to late 2019, with first-round knockout defeats to Michael Chandler and Tofiq Musayev bookending wins over Adam Piccolotti and Myles Jury. His foe Barnaoui, the lone representative in the tourney from France, made his successful promotional debut in October 2022, where he submitted Piccolotti in Round 2 to make a statement. That triumph extended the win streak of “The Afro-Samurai” to eight, with all eight coming inside the distance.
In addition to the two main card matches, Bellator also released a pair of lightweight bouts on the preliminary portion of the lineup – both of which include Frenchmen against Englishmen. Saul Rogers (15-5) will face France’s Davy Gallon (21-8-2), and Thibault Gouti (16-6) throws down with Manchester’s own Kane Mousah (14-4). Rogers, Gallon and Gouti are all coming off decision losses at Bellator 287 in Italy, while Mousah won his last fight – albeit against the Bellator fighter with the most defeats in Georgi Karakhanyan.