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

Bellator recently announced a number of the bouts for the approaching Bellator 223 and Bellator 224 events. Here are the newest fights, along with my thoughts on the new matchups under:
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr., Bellator 223
Bellator 223 takes place June 22 at SSE Stadium in London, England, and the main event sees Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi taking on Rafael Lovato Jr.. Read my thoughts on this fight in a previous edition of the MMA odds and endings.
Paul Daley vs. Erick Silva, Bellator 223
A fascinating welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Erick Silva was added to Bellator 223. Daley (40-17-2) is currently 5-4 at Bellator and is coming off of a close decision loss to Michael Page with a decision loss to Jon Fitch before that. He hasn’t won as 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 in his promotional introduction. His last win came in July 2018 over Nick Barnes in LFA. Though Silva has a puncher’s chance, he’s a shell of his former self, and despite Daley fighting 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 Bellator 223. Gallagher (8-1) has a 5-1 record in Bellator and rebounded nicely from his upset KO loss to Ricky Bandejas with a submission win over Stephen Graham his last time out. Labiano (12-6) is 2-2 total in Bellator and is coming off of a TKO win over Justin Smitley. Although Gallagher is overrated, he must still be favored to win this fight.
Melvin Manhoef vs. Kent Kauppinen, Bellator 223
Middleweights Melvin Manhoef and Kent Kauppinen also meet at Bellator 223. Manhoef (30-14-1, two NC) is 42-years-old currently and is coming off of successive losses to former champ Rafael Carvalho. His last win was a knockout victory over Hisaki Kato back in 2015, and he has a 2-3, 1 NC album in Bellator. Kauppinen (11-4) is only 1-1 in Bellator but he’s coming from a KO win over Alessio Sakara that was a breakthrough functionality for him. Despite Manhoef’s advantage in experience, you must favor the younger and more lasting fighter here in Kauppinen.
Julia Budd vs. Olga Rubin, Bellator 224
And lastly, Bellator 224 takes place July 12 in WinStar Resort Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma and the primary event features Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd against Olga Rubin. Budd (12-2) has a perfect 6-0 record in Bellator and hasn’t lost since a submission defeat to Ronda Rousey way back in 2011. She will be coming to this fight from a one-year layoff as she has not competed since a TKO win over Talita Nogueira last July, however, Budd remains 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 very least. However, she obtained this title taken because of her perfect album and because there’s no one else worthy of fighting Budd, who will no doubt be a massive favorite to win the fight.
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