The Bellator cage is heading back to Paris on Friday, May 12, and it’s bringing two pivotal clashes to top the fight card.
The event, which is yet to be officially numbered by the promotion, will feature a middleweight title eliminator in its headline slot, as English contender Fabian Edwards takes on former champion Gegard Mousasi in a five-round 185-pound clash at the Accor Arena.
Edwards has long been considered a threat to the division’s best at 185 pounds, and his stunning knockout of former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in May 2022 solidified his championship credentials.
He then went on to outbattle gritty Irish contender Charlie Ward to further his claims for a shot at the gold. And now “The Assassin” stands one win away from achieving that aim.
Standing in his way is a member of MMA royalty. Mousasi is one of the most experienced, talented and respected fighters to ever pull on a set of Bellator MMA gloves, and the Dutchman will head to Paris to compete in a landmark bout as he makes the walk for his 60th professional bout.
Both men have the ability to finish fights, and both have their eyes firmly on the champion, Johnny Eblen, who will put his title on the line for the first time when he takes on Russian contender Anatoly Tokov at Bellator 290 on February 4. With winner of that bout set to put the title on the line against the victor in the Paris headliner, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Mousasi and Edwards as they fight for the right to challenge for Bellator gold later this year.
Also confirmed for the event is a first-round bout in the Bellator lightweight grand prix, with France’s own Mansour Barnaoui set to take on America’s Sidney Outlaw.
Outlaw has won three of his last five bouts, with victories over Roger Huerta, Adam Piccolotti and Myles Jury earning him a spot in the eight-man, $1 million tournament. But he has drawn a tough assignment on the road as he heads into Barnaoui’s back yard for their first-round bout.
Paris’ Barnaoui is no stranger to longtime European MMA aficionados, having competed across the continent, as well as in Asia, picking up championships along the way.
Barnaoui is a former champion for now-defunct UK promotion BAMMA, for Russian promotion M-1 Global and in South Korea, for ROAD FC. He returned from a three-year hiatus and dominated Piccolotti on his Bellator debut to deliver a statement to the rest of the lightweight division. Bellator president Scott Coker was suitably impressed, and included Barnaoui in the tournament lineup for the lightweight grand prix.