In a week where the UFC card can be considered subpar at best, the main attraction this weekend will be Bellator 268.
Not only does the card feature matchups in the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, it also features a few bright prospects. Bellator is home to some of the finest prospects in MMA, including the likes of Aaron Pico (8-3), Cody Law (4-0) and Danny Sabatello (11-1).
Two more of such prospects will be competing this weekend in Jaylon Bates (3-0) and Lance Gibson Jr. (4-0).
Bates is 3-0 as a pro, all wins of which came in Bellator. This is after he went 9-0 as an amateur and was touted one of the best amateur prospects out there.
The 2015 Nevada high school wrestling champion has turned in back-to-back submission wins to pair his high-level wrestling with a great jiu jitsu game.
He’s done exactly what someone that has been a -750 favorite in two fights and -475 in the other fight should do.
This fight should be no different.
He takes on a 32-year-old 6-4 fighter in Brazilian Raphael Montini, who hasn’t won since mid-2019.
Montini lost to Marcus McGhee (3-0) at RUF 42, and this seems to be like they are setting up Bates for another big win. He just need to stick to what he does and will move to 4-0.
Meanwhile, Gibson Jr., the son of Lance Gibson Sr. (4-5) and stepson of Julia Budd (15-3), also gets a chance to extend his perfect record.
In his last fight, Gibson went the distance for the first time as a pro when he earned a unanimous decision over Marcus Surin (6-3). Like every prospect, it was probably a good thing for Gibson to go the distance and get the cage time.
“I would have totally have preferred to get a stoppage,” Gibson Jr told Adam Crist of MyMMANews. “I love finishing fights. Something about it feels so natural. It wasn’t satisfying for me at first, but over time, I’ve come to accept it. It’s part of my destiny and part of my path. I dislocated my toe about 40 seconds in and suffered a tough eye poke. Fighting pretty much on one foot, I got the job done, so there is a silver lining there.”
Saturday’s fight against Raymond Pina (9-4) will be a good test for Gibson. Pina is a 13-fight veteran with experience in Combate and LFA, who also hasn’t fought in over two years.
Gibson likes the match up though against a fellow wrestler.
“I enjoy it,” Gibson Jr. said of the match up. “I love his wrestling based style. He’s developed some striking now as well. It’s going to be nice to showcase my offensive and defensive wrestling and my counter wrestling as well as my striking, my clinch work and my overall grappling and jiu jitsu. It will be fun to be able to show that and challenge myself.”
Although he saw the benefit of 15 minutes of action his last fight, he told MyMMANews, “I’m going to get a finish this time.”
You can see Bates and Gibson try to extend their perfect records on Saturday night in Phoenix at Bellator 268.