The Heavyweight Grand Prix will conclude at Bellator 214 but there are plenty of other reasons to tune into the first event of the new year for the Viacom owned promotion.
The UFC got their year off to a great start with last weekend’s ESPN debut. Now its the second biggest North American MMA promotions turn to get the ball rolling in 2019.
The Forum in Inglewood, California, will host the card which is scheduled for a whopping 16 fights in total. However, the five-fight main card is where most of the eyeballs will be glued to.
On the surface, Bellator 214 has some definite intrigue. Of course, you have the conclusion of the world heavyweight Grand Prix featuring one of the greatest fighters to have ever laced a four oz glove up. Then one of the best looking MMA prospects looks to take the next step in his evolution. And who can forget about a former WWE champion making his in-cage debut?
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the more compelling reasons to watch Bellator 214 this weekend.
Ricky Bandejas vs. Juan Archuleta
Bandejas, 27, burst on to the Bellator scene with a show-stopping knock out of James Gallagher back in August of last year. The former CFFC bantamweight champion is riding a six fight winning streak that dates back to 2015.
The “Spaniard” as Archuleta is known by has championship aspirations. Boasting a record of 21-1, the Duane Ludwig protege is on a 16 fight winning streak. Both Archuleta and Bandejas have high ceilings in the sport of MMA. The winner of this bout will likely be looking at a title shot in the near future.
Jack Swagger’s (Donald Jacob Hager Jr.) Debut
Come Saturday night Swagger will become the latest professional wrestling superstar to test his mettle in real combat.
We have seen this play out before with varied results. Brock Lesnar is probably the most successful WWE superstar to test the waters of MMA. However, others, many others, have tried only to return to their previous vocation.
Swagger will compete in the heavyweight division where he will meet JW Kiser this weekend.
Can Aaron Pico Take The Next Step
Say what you will about the 22-year-old Pico but the young man is not afraid to challenge himself.
Pico (4-1) will compete for the sixth time in his professional career (all with Bellator) at Bellator 214 and he will be facing his toughest test to date in Henry Corrales.
After dropping his debut at Madison Square Garden, Pico has rattled off four straight wins, each more impressive than the last. Can he continue his meteoric rise to the top of the bantamweight division? We will see on Saturday night.
World Heavyweight Grand Prix Finale
The first Bellator event of the new year will culminate with the crowning of a new heavyweight champion.
Anytime Fedor Emelianenko is fighting it is must-see TV. And depending on the outcome of the Grand Prix this could be the last time we get to witness “The Last Emperor” in action.
On the other side of the bracket is light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. “Darth” has a chance to become the promotions first ever “double-champ” should he beat Fedor. Either way, it will be entertaining.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/24/2019.