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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Wrestling Fan's Guide to the MMA Weekend (7/15/21)

    Tyrell Fortune at the 2015 US Open (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    The UFC and Bellator will both host shows this weekend. Friday's Bellator show is loaded with former wrestlers, while there are a few names dotting the UFC show as well. Check out the fighters that wrestling fans will likely want to follow below.

    Bellator 262 takes place Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs live on Showtime at 9:00pm ET, while the undercard airs live on YouTube at 6:00pm ET.

    In the co-main event, Tyrell Fortune takes the biggest step up in his MMA career against Matt Mitrione. Fortune was a two-time NJCAA champion at Clackamas before transferring to Grand Canyon. There he won an NCAA Division II title and earned Division II “Wrestler of the Year” honors. He also excelled in the international styles. At the 2013 World University Games, he won a bronze medal in freestyle and finished fifth in Greco. After suffering his first professional MMA loss against fellow Division II veteran Tim Johnson in February 2020, Fortune has bounced back with wins over Said Sowma and Jack May. Another victory here could move him closer to the heavyweight title picture in Bellator.

    Also on the main card, Cee Jay Hamilton meets Brazilian Matheus Mattos. Hamilton was a two-time NCWA champion at Marion Military Institute before transferring to Anderson University to wrestle at the Division II level and earned All-American honors with a fifth-place finish in 2009. Hamilton lost his Bellator debut against Magomed Magomedov last April and is looking to get back on track.

    In the opening bout of the main card, former Missouri wrestler Johnny Eblen will look to push his professional record to 9-0 against Travis Davis. Eblen qualified for the NCAA tournament as a senior in 2015 before coming up short of All-American status. During that season, he scored victories over the likes of Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State), Pete Renda (NC State), Zac Brunson (Illinois), and Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State).

    On the preliminary card, Cody Law returns to action against the debuting Theodore Macuka. Law started his collegiate wrestling career at Penn State before transferring to Pitt-Johnstown before the 2016-2017 season. In his first year at the Division II school, he finished fourth at the NCAA tournament to become an All-American. He returned for his senior season and won the NCAA title at 157 pounds. Law made his professional MMA debut under the Bellator banner in 2020 and has so far built a 3-0 record. His last victory came last April when he took a decision over Nathan Ghareeb.

    22-year-old Russian prospect Diana Avsaragova will be looking for her second win in Bellator as she faces off against Gabriella Gulfin. Avsaragova comes from a wrestling background and reportedly finished third at the 2015 Russian Cadet nationals .

    Nick Giulietti was a New Haven Register All-Area selection before going on to wrestle for both Anderson College and American International College. He will be making his Bellator debut against Charlie Campbell and holds a 2-1 record.

    UFC returns to action with yet another show from Las Vegas. Both of the wrestlers mentioned below will compete on the undercard, which airs live on ESPN and ESPN+ at 7:00pm ET.

    Montserrat Ruiz claims to be a seven-time Mexican national wrestling champion , but this does not appear to be verifiable. She won her UFC debut with basically nothing but a headlock, so it seems entirely possible that Ruiz comes from a wrestling background. She will likely need to show a little more technique this weekend against Amanda Lemos.

    Miles Johns was a Kansas state champion before attending Newman University. He spent one year on the wrestling squad before moving on. He made his professional MMA debut in 2014 and currently holds an 11-1 record. He will face Anderson dos Santos on Saturday.

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