Bellator is in Hawaii for the first time since late 2019 with back-to-back events – the first of which has the women’s flyweight title on the line.
Bellator 278 takes place Friday at Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. The main card airs on Showtime following prelims on MMA Junkie.
(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)
In the main event, Juliana Velasquez (12-0 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) puts her women’s flyweight title on the line against former UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche (16-7 MMA, 3-0 BMMA). Our 11 editors, writers, radio hosts and videographers largely are backing the unbeaten champ at a big 9-2 clip.
In the co-feature, Enrique Barzola (17-5-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) meets Nikita Mikhailov (9-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) in a bantamweight grand prix wild card bout. The winner will move into the eight-man bracket. Mikhailov, a teammate of Fedor Emelianenko, has a 7-4 lead in the picks.
There’s high tension in the other bantamweight tournament wild card fight between Jornel Lugo (8-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and Danny Sabatello (11-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). And though Sabatello is the choice of nearly 60 percent of our readers, our staff pickers have Lugo with a 7-4 edge.
Also on the main card, Christian Edwards (5-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) takes on Grant Neal (6-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) at light heavyweight. In another fight in which our readers went counter to our staff consensus, it’s Edwards with a big 8-3 rout in the picks.
And to open the main card, Nate Andrews (16-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) meets Manny Muro (12-7 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) in a 160-pound contract weight fight. Muro is a near-unanimous pick at 10-1.
In the MMA Junkie reader consensus picks, Velasquez (63 percent), Barzola (50.1 percent), Sabatello (59 percent), Neal (52 percent) and Andrews (60 percent) are the choices.
Check out all the picks above.