10 Bellator fighters that can beat UFC champions
Mixed martial arts fans are always debating which Bellator fighters have what it takes to topple the best in the UFC in a Bell. With that in mind, here are 10 Bellator fighters that could beat UFC champions in an ultimate Bellator vs UFC battle.
10. Vitaly Minakov
There are very few weaknesses that UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou has, but his wrestling and the cardio needed to feed the muscles on his hulking figure are not a strength. That’s why former Bellator heavyweight champ Vitaly Minakov could give “The Predator” some trouble. Not only is he a skilled fighter with big power in his fists, but at 6-foot-3 and 262-pounds, he can physically match up with Ngannou too. However, the real game-changer is the Russian big man’s world champion level Sambo. It’s a type of grappling that can be perplexing for the uninitiated (ie; see Nurmagomedov, Khabib)
9. Ryan Bader
Ryan Bader is fighter one in a trifecta of light heavyweight competitors in Bellator that could give UFC 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz some serious frights. The former two-division champion mirrors the master of “Polish Power” in having legit thunder in his hands, but also a grappling game that has taken him to the highest levels of the sport. Maybe Bader wouldn’t be the favorite on DraftKings’ odds sheet, but he definitely has the skill set to be a very real threat in a fight against Blachowicz.
8. Douglas Lima
If this list was made in 2019 when Douglas Lima was one of the best Bellator fighters around after winning welterweight Grand Prix and the division title, while Kamaru Usman had just one title defense under his belt, this fight would be a pick ’em. Fast forward two years, Usman has had three destructive title defenses, “Phenom” has lost back-to-back fights for the first time, and this booking seems less competitive. But at 33, the Brazilian is still in his prime and has all the tools to give the Nigerian some nightmares. Lima has bounced back in a big way from rough patches before, I would not doubt his elite talent now. Even in a fight with Usman.
7. Corey Anderson
Corey Anderson landing on this list was an easy choice because he’s already beaten UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. Of course, the quick response to that would be, “well, Jan knocked him out in the rematch.” And that’s a fair retort. Just more reason why a trilogy fight would be interesting. The UFC champ would probably be the favorite in this rubber match, but if the wrecking machine version of Anderson that’s been in Bellator shows up for the third fight, I think it could go either way.
6. Sergio Pettis
Sergio Pettis was long viewed as just Anthony Pettis’ little brother. However, as the former UFC lightweight champion’s star has lost its luster, and little bro has only gotten better. Since winning the Bellator championship belt he has become the premiere Pettis in the MMA game. His mix of former flyweight speed, very technical striking and a sound grappling game could easily give his UFC counterpart Aljamain Sterling trouble. Yet, what makes Pettis a significant threat to the best 135-pounders in the UFC, is at 28, we probably still haven’t even seen the best version of him.
5. Gegard Mousasi
There aren’t many fighters out there that can offer the sort of style that poses very real threats for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya everywhere. But that is the sort of special talent Gegard Mousasi is, even at 36. “The Dreamcatcher” is still an elite 185-pound talent in the sport. His kickboxing is something that Adesanya would need to respect, but his underrated strength, combined with the Dutch Iranian’s gifts as a grappler, and you have a fighter Izzy would need to be careful with at all times. Adesanya vs Mousasi is a true-blue competitive dream fight.
4. Patricio Pitbull
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire is the greatest fighter in Bellator history. Point blank and period. And even as a pocket Hercules of a lightweight, he would give UFC lightweight king and fellow Brazilian, Charles Oliveira, a fit. His explosive power is special, but he also has an absurdly underrated mat game that would not make him a small fish swimming with a shark on the ground with “Do Bronx.” If Chandler damn-near beat Oliveira, the man that beat Chandler in 61 seconds would certainly have much more than a puncher’s chance.
3. Cris Cyborg
Even at 36, and 16 years into her career, Cris “Cyborg” Justino is a top-two women’s featherweight in the world. It just so happens that #1 is the UFC side of the coin in Amanda Nunes, and she already owns a W over Justino. “Cyborg’s” 51 second KO loss to “The Lioness” at UFC 232 was a nightmare night at the office. However, it was a night where she fought recklessly and paid for it. The patient and tactical Justino we have seen as Bellator featherweight champ is a very different fighter and could test Nunes in a rematch just as competitively as Valentina Shevchenko has. The only difference is, “Cyborg” has the put-your-lights-out power that “Bullet” doesn’t.
2. Vadim Nemkov
Vadim Nemkov is the third and final member of the trio of Bellator light heavyweights that have what it takes to knock off Jan Blachowicz. The Bellator 205-pound champion is young, fast, powerful, and is still only getting better after just 15 professional fights. The Team Fedor product has a video game mix of talents that could give Blachowicz a world of problems. The Polish powerhouse has a massive experience advantage but youth, technique, and knockout power is a hell of an equalizer.
1. AJ McKee
The mantle that was once held by men like Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Douglas Lima, Nick Diaz, and Jiri Prochzaka has now passed to the new Bellator featherweight king. AJ McKee is the best fighter in the world not in the UFC. And when you hold that mantle at just 26-years-old you are most certainly the type of fighter gifted enough to beat UFC featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski. Without a doubt, Volkanovski would be a favorite, but in a best of three, or five, series — spread out over several years — my money is on “Mercenary” getting the best of the Aussie.Join the discussion on this topic...