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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (2/24/23)

    Logan Storley 4x All-American for Minnesota (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    On Saturday, the two biggest MMA promotions in the world will host cards, and not surprisingly, both will feature former wrestlers in marquee matches.

    In the main event of Bellator 291, interim welterweight champion Logan Storley will face off against champion Yaroslav Amosov to unify the promotion’s titles at 170 pounds. Amosov, who has held the title since 2021, stepped away from the sport at the start of the Russian invasion of his native Ukraine. In his absence, Storley defeated Michael “Venom” Page for the interim version of the title in London last May.

    During his collegiate days, Storley was a four-time All-American for Minnesota. His best finish at the NCAA tournament came during his junior season where he finished third at 174 pounds and scored victories over Matt Brown (Penn State) and Robert Koeksh (Nebraska). Storley returned at the same weight for his senior year in 2015 and finished fourth.

    Storley made his professional MMA debut about eight months after his final NCAA tournament. He won his first five fights before signing with Bellator in 2017. Storley then won his first six fights with the promotion until running into Amosov.

    The two faced off at Bellator 252 in 2020. Despite not coming from a wrestling background, Amosov was able to hold his own in the grappling exchanges, and ended up walking away with a split-decision victory.

    Since suffering his only MMA defeat to date, Storley has bounced back with three-straight victories including the interim title win over Page.

    The bout between Storley and Amosov will serve as the main event of Bellator 291. The card airs live on Showtime from Dublin. The main card is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm ET with Storley expected to walk around 6:00pm ET.

    While Bellator is holding its event in Europe, Saturday’s show takes place in the UFC’s home of Las Vegas. The UFC Apex will be the site of UFC Vegas 70, which will be headlined by a light heavyweight fight between Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann. However, the main event for wrestling fans will likely be the return of an accomplished women’s freestyle veteran.

    On the main card, Tatiana Suarez will face off against Montana De La Rosa in a women’s flyweight contest. Suarez has been out of action since 2019 with a variety of injuries, but she is expected to find herself returning to title contention soon with a win here.

    From 2007 to 2011, Suarez, then known as Padilla, was one of the top young wrestlers in the U.S. She won a silver medal at the 2007 Junior World Championships and followed that up with a bronze in 2008. Suarez then bumped up to the Senior level where she also won a bronze medal in 2008.

    While preparing for the 2012 Olympics, a cancerous growth on Suarez’s thyroid was detected. After successful treatment and recovery, she made her professional MMA debut in 2014. After three wins, she competed on the promotion’s “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show and won. She has gone 4-0 in the UFC since making her debut in 2016.

    Her opponent on Saturday, De La Rosa, has been fighting in the UFC since 2017. She has gone 12-7-1 overall with a 5-3-1 record in the Octagon. The bout will be part of the main card of UFC Vegas 70, which airs live on ESPN+ at 7:00pm ET.

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