Clay Guida at the Garlic City Rumble in Gilroy, California (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The MMA schedule keeps moving and as always there will be plenty of wrestlers in action. Bellator has shows on both Friday and Saturday, while the UFC will hold down their regular Saturday night time slot. The following is a look at some of the top wrestlers in action on those shows.
Friday - Bellator 278
Danny Sabatello vs. Jornel Lugo
Sabatello was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Purdue who finished his eligibility in 2016. As a senior, he went 20-18 and picked up key wins over Anthony Abidin (Nebraska), Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) and Zach Finesilver (Duke). Sabatello made his MMA debut in 2018. After a win in his Bellator debut last year, he holds an 11-1 record. His opponent signed with Bellator in 2019 after only two professional fights. Lugo's record currently stands at 8-0, and he last fought in February when he picked up a decision victory over Brian Moore.
Dante Schiro vs. Scotty Hao
Schiro will be looking for a bounce-back here after dropping a split decision against fellow wrestler Logan Storley in his Bellator debut last August. After a prep career at Madison's La Follette, Schiro spent his college days at Wisconsin Whitewater where he was part of the wrestling and soccer team. He has been fighting as a professional since 2018 and currently has an 8-3 record. Schiro will get a much more manageable opponent in his Bellator return fight. Hao has a 5-3, and he has dropped three of his last five fights.
Makoa Cooper vs. Blake Perry
Expect the Hawaii crowd to get behind Cooper in this one. He is the son of MMA veteran Ray Cooper, and the brother of PFL champion Ray Cooper III. Not only was Cooper a state champion wrestler in Hawaii, but he has been joined in that accomplishment by his father, three brothers and his sister. This will be his second professional fight after he won his debut last month over Ratavious Thrasher at Titan FC 74.
For his Bellator debut, Cooper will face off against a fellow wrestler. Perry wrestled on the collegiate level for Baldwin Wallace. This will be his professional debut after he went 5-3 as an amateur. Perry lost three of his first five amateur fights including a loss against Makoa's brother Blake. However, he finished his amateur run on a four-fight winning streak.
Bellator 278 takes place Friday night. Cooper, Perry and Schiro will all fight on the undercard, which airs live on Bellator's YouTube page at 8:00pm ET. Sabatello's fight will be part of the main card, which is scheduled to begin at 10:00pm ET on Showtime.
Saturday - UFC Vegas 52
Clay Guida vs. Claudio Puelles
For the 59th time in his MMA career, Guida will step into the cage to fight. The veteran started his career back in 2003, but prior to that, he spent his time on the wrestling mats. The former Harper College wrestler is coming off a win over Leonardo Santos last December. Guida also scored a victory over Billy Quarantillo in a grappling match two weeks after his last MMA win. On Saturday, he faces off against Puelles who is 11-2 overall and 4-1 in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2016.
Montana De La Rosa vs. Maycee Barber
On the high school level, De La Rosa was a strong competitor and placed as high as fifth at Cadet nationals. She was offered a scholarship by Oklahoma City, but she transferred back to her home in Texas shortly after enrolling. De La Rosa has been fighting in the UFC since competing on the 26th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and has a 5-2 record with the promotion. In this bout, she will face off against Barber who holds a 9-2 record despite only being 23 years old.
Alexandr Romanov vs. Chase Sherman
Romanov represents Moldova on the international wrestling scene, and has been active recently. He competed at both the 2019 World Championships as well as the 2021 Olympic Qualification tournament. Romanov's best result was a bronze medal at the 2016 World University Championships. He is scheduled to fight Sherman who has a 15-9 record and has been in and out of the UFC since 2016.
Lando Vannata vs. Charles Jourdain
Vannata went 88-15 over his last two seasons of high school wrestling and finished fifth in the state of Florida as a senior. He then continued his wrestling career at UT Chattanooga, but he dropped out after a single semester. Less than two years later in 2012, Vannata made his professional MMA debut. He won his first seven fights before signing with the UFC in 2016. Vannata has gone 4-5-2 in the UFC and 12-5-2 overall. On Saturday, he faces off against Jourdain who is 12-4 and has been fighting in the UFC since 2019.
The entire UFC Vegas 52 show will air live on ESPN+. All of the wrestlers will be part of the main card, which airs live at 9:00pm ET.
Saturday - Bellator 279
Juan Archuleta vs. Raufeon Stots
This Bellator bantamweight tournament bout is probably the biggest match between former wrestlers this weekend. Archuleta was a two-time California Community College champion for Sacramento City and then transferred to Purdue. As a junior at the Big Ten school, he finished fourth in the conference and qualified for the 2009 NCAA tournament. Archuleta made his MMA debut in 2013 and won 23 of his first 24 fights. In 2020, he defeated Patchy Mix to claim the Bellator bantamweight title but dropped it in his next fight against current champion Sergio Pettis.
Stots started his collegiate wrestling career at Labette where he was a two-time NJCAA qualifier and one-time All-American. He then transferred to Nebraska-Kearney where he was a two-time NCAA Division II champion. After finishing his college career in 2013, Stots made his professional MMA debut in 2015. He has started his career with a 17-1 record with his only loss coming against UFC contender Merab Dvalishvili.
Kai Kamaka III vs. Justin Gonzales
Kamaka was a Hawaii state champion who continued his wrestling career at Midland University. He made his professional MMA debut in 2012 and signed with the UFC in 2020. Kamaka left the promotion in 2021 after going 1-2-1. He returned to Bellator last December and won a decision over John de Jesus. Now, he faces off against Gonzales who has experience facing former wrestlers. Last year, he defeated former Ohio wrestler Tywan Claxton and lost against Aaron Pico.
Kamaka's fight will be part of the preliminary card, which airs live on Bellator's YouTube page at 8:00pm ET. The main card, which will feature Archuleta vs. Stotts, begins at 10:00pm ET on Showtime.