UPDATES TO BELLATOR 223 AND BELLATOR 224 INCLUDING RETURN OF JULIA BUDD

Bellator recently announced some of the bouts for the upcoming Bellator 223 and also Bellator 224 occasions. Here are the newest fights, along with my thoughts on the new matchups below:
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr., Bellator 223
Bellator 223 occurs June 22 at SSE Stadium in London, England, and the main event sees Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi carrying on Rafael Lovato Jr.. Read my thoughts on this fight in a previous edition of the MMA odds and ends here.
Paul Daley vs. Erick Silva, Bellator 223
An intriguing welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Erick Silva was inserted to Bellator 223. Daley (40-17-2) is 5-4 in Bellator and is coming from a close decision loss to Michael Page using a decision loss to Jon Fitch before that. He hasn’t won since a KO win over Lorenz Larkin in September 2017. Silva (20-10, 1 NC) is 0-1 in Bellator, having lost by decision to Yaroslav Amosov within his promotional debut. His last win came in July 2018 over Nick Barnes in LFA. Although Silva has a puncher’s chance, he’s a shell of his former self, and even though Daley struggling to win his last couple of fights, he should be favored to win this bout.
James Gallagher vs. Jeremiah Labiano, Bellator 223
Featherweights James Gallagher and Jeremiah Labiano will fight at Bellator 223. Gallagher (8-1) has a 5-1 record in Bellator and rebounded well from his upset KO loss to Ricky Bandejas with a submission win over Stephen Graham his out time. Labiano (12-6) is 2-2 overall in Bellator and is coming from a TKO win over Justin Smitley. Although Gallagher is overrated, he must still be favored to win this battle.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Kent Kauppinen, Bellator 223
Middleweights Melvin Manhoef and Kent Kauppinen also meet at Bellator 223. Manhoef (30-14-1, 2 NC) is 42-years-old now and is coming off of consecutive losses to former champ Rafael Carvalho. His last win was a knockout victory over Hisaki Kato back in 2015, and overall he has a 2-3, 1 NC record in Bellator. Kauppinen (11-4) is only 1-1 in Bellator but he is coming from a KO win over Alessio Sakara that was a breakthrough performance for him. Despite Manhoef’s advantage in experience, you must favor the younger and more lasting fighter in Kauppinen.
Julia Budd vs. Olga Rubin, Bellator 224
And finally, Bellator 224 takes place July 12 in WinStar Resort Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and the main event features Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd contrary to Olga Rubin. Budd (12-2) has a perfect 6-0 record in Bellator and has not lost since a submission defeat to Ronda Rousey way back in 2011. She’ll be coming to this battle from a one-year layoff as she has not competed because a TKO win over Talita Nogueira past July, however, Budd is still one of the most formidable women’s featherweights in the world regardless of any layoff. Rubin (6-0) is 4-0 in Bellator, although her degree of competition has been sub-par, to say the least. Still, she received this title shot because of her perfect album and since there’s no one else worthy of battling Budd, who will undoubtedly be a huge favorite to win the fight.
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