10 spectacular UFC vs Bellator dream fights
Bellator vs UFC. It’s an exciting debate for mixed martial arts fans of both brands. With Bellator as the clear number two promotion in the industry, they are the latest dance partner in this popular form of fantasy booking. Remember Pride Fighting Championship and Strikeforce?
However, this won’t be a list just booking each organization’s champions against each other. We both know that’s a cheap way out, and a waste of time in some instances because there are some wide talent gaps at the top of certain divisions. No, this is meant to be a cleverly crafted and subjective dream card that could offer some better-than-expected matchups. Let’s get into it.
UFC vs Bellator prelims opener
10. Neiman Gracie vs. Michael Chiesa
Michael Chiesa and Neiman Gracie are two of the best grapplers on their respective rosters. The Ultimate Fighter season 15 winner Chiesa was a solid fighter at lightweight but has become a handful working his way up to the fifth spot in the UFC welterweight rankings. Fourth-ranked Bellator 170-pounder Gracie has hovered in title contention ever since he came up short against Rory MacDonald in a competitive title fight in the semifinals of the promotion’s Grand Prix. The pair have earned serious reps for snatching up limbs in 76% of their wins. A ground battle between these two grappling aces in their prime could be a sight to behold.
9. Yaroslav Amosov vs. Colby Covington
You’re probably wondering why I wouldn’t match up Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov against his UFC counterpart Kamaru Usman. Welp, as much as I respect the undefeated Ukranian “Dynamo,” I just don’t think he’s proven he could beat Usman just yet. But Colby Covington? Oh, that would be very interesting. Both have dominated in their victories with superior grappling and an endless gas tank. Both have managed wins against dangerous strikers (See: Lima, Douglas, and Lawler, Robbie). Not to mention, both are sound strikers but that’ll never be either’s bread and butter. It’s an even matchup between elite welterweights that could turn into an outright battle of wills.
8. Douglas Lima vs. Gilbert Burns
Douglas Lima and Gilbert Burns are a couple of welterweight savages. Until his recent setbacks to Gegard Mousasi and Amosov, Lima was viewed by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter outside the UFC. While Burns has put together a stellar resume the last few years in becoming one of the best welterweights in the world not name Kamaru Usman. The big question is, which version of Lima would show up? The one that stuffed every takedown and won back the Bellator belt from Rory MacDonald in their 2019 rematch, or the one out grappled by Amosov at Bellator 260. If it’s the former, this fight could be a barnburner.
7. Sergio Pettis vs. Aljamain Sterling
Sergios Pettis versus Aljamain Sterling is the first title bout on this championship sextuplet-header card. Both men are brand new bantamweight champions with questions around their reigns. Sterling was awarded the title fair and square, after an illegal knee to this head from Petr Yan at UFC 259. In a fight, he was losing decisively. Pettis has been unbeaten at bantamweight since signing with Bellator, but the division is still in the growing stages and a case could be made that flyweight is his best weight class. Either way, both are immensely talented world champions that offer the other serious problems in a hypothetical fight. I would gladly watch that booking.
6. Vadim Nemkov vs. Jan Blachowicz
The featured prelim on our dream card pits UFC light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz, and his “Polish Power,” versus Bellator belt counterpart, and star Fedor Emelianenko pupil, Vadim Nemkov. It’s a classic battle of age versus youth. Russia versus Poland. Building-block talent versus battle-tested veteran waiting on the mountain top. Speed versus power. Certainly, the UFC champ would be the favorite, but in beating three former division kings, the 29-year-old Nemkov has become one of those rising stars many feel could do damage at 205-pounds in the UFC as well. Both are well-rounded but offer their opponent unique problems.
Main card opener
5. AJ McKee vs. Alexander Volkanovski
No doubt, you’re wondering why Patricio “Pitbull” Freire isn’t in this spot for Bellator. Don’t worry, he’s on this card’s main event. And at another weight class. Furthermore (@ me if you want), I just think with his height and reach advantages, matched with his explosiveness and outstanding grappling, AJ McKee is a more challenging stylistic matchup for Alexander Volkanovski. Pound-for-pound, McKee is one of the best Bellator fighters on the roster. Should “The Great” beat him? Probably. But the UFC featherweight king hasn’t been tested by gifted grapplers in years. This would be a fresh and legitimate confrontation for the Aussie.
4. Gegard Mousasi vs. Israel Adesanaya
The best version of Gegard Mousasi to face Israel Adesanya would have been the man we knew in 2016. However, credit the current middleweight Bellator championship belt holder, even six years removed from his peak he is the type of talent that would still give Israel Adesanya a hard time. Of course, like every other fighter alive, the reigning UFC middleweight king would be a problem on the feet for Mousasi. However, “The Dreamcatcher” has managed the striking gifts of men like Douglas Lima, Lyoto Machida, and Uriah Hall to get wins. And if Mousasi did get “The Last Stylebender” to the mat, the advantage swings heavily in favor of Mousasi.
3. Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes
It’s the rematch most of us wanted and never got. A redux between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Amanda Nunes could very well go similarly to their historic clash in 2018 at UFC 232. However, it’s hard to not feel when watching that first bout that the current Bellator featherweight queen underestimated the two-division UFC champion and fought all kinds of recklessly. The Justino we’ve seen since that destructive loss, versus “The Lioness” now would seem like a serious test for the women’s MMA GOAT. Something she isn’t getting from her current UFC competition.
2. Ryan Bader vs. Francis Ngannou
Of course, Francis Ngannou would be a big favorite over Ryan Bader in a clash of UFC and Bellator heavyweight champs. However, what’s been Ngannous biggest weakness? Wrestling. What has Bader used to become an Ultimate Fighter winner and score titles in two division’s in Bellator? Wrestling. Would Bader be the best wrestler Ngannou has ever faced? Yes, and by a lot. Would Bader be the fastest opponent of Ngannou’s career? Probably. “The Predator” should win, but there are quite a few reasons Bader could be Jack to Ngannou’s Cameroonian giant.
1. Patricio Pitbull vs. Charles Oliveira
Freire is the greatest fighter in Bellator history and currently owns a Bellator belt in two divisions. In a battle of Bellator vs UFC, he has to be in the main event. A matchup between him and new UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira would be the most even on the card. Meaning it’s a perfect fit for the headliner.
“Do Bronx” would be a serious problem for Freire because of his eight-and-a-half-inch reach, but “Pitbull” has made a career out of fighting taller and longer foes. He offers similar explosive striking as Michael Chandler, a better chin, and more challenging jiu-jitsu. And Chandler versus Oliveira was a very competitive affair at UFC 262. Oliveira is a truly gifted talent, but his eight losses prove he’s not invincible. This would be a pick ’em.Join the discussion on this topic...