Bellator women’s flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez attempts to make her second defense against one of MMA’s most battle-tested veterans in Liz Carmouche at Bellator 278. Velasquez vs. Carmouche headlines the first of two consecutive nights of Bellator action in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Velasquez’s ceiling as a world champion is still in question. Her unanimous decision win over Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in December 2020 could have served as a launching pad. After all, Bellator was positioning Macfarlane as a cornerstone of the brand. However, Velasquez (12-0) had a messy first title defense against Denise Kielholtz in July, eking out a split decision win over the Bellator Kickboxing women’s flyweight champion. A decisive victory over an established, battle-tested veteran like Carmouche is exactly what Velasquez needs to put some respect on her name.
In the co-main event, we have a bantamweight grand prix wild card bout. Former UFC competitor Enrique Barzola will try to build on his successful Bellator debut in January when he takes on Nikita Mikhailov, who has won five consecutive fights. This bout will be contested at an agreed 140 pounds.
The third featured bout tonight will be another bantamweight grand prix wild card bout. The undefeated Jornel Lugo (8-0) will take on “The Italian Gangster” Danny Sabatello, who has won five consecutive bouts, most recently over former UFC fighter Brett Johns last May.
When is Bellator 278, date, start time
Date: Friday, April 22
Main card: 10:00 p.m. ET / 3 a.m. BST
Main event ringwalks (approx): Midnight ET / 5 a.m. BST
The main card gets underway at 10:00 p.m. ET / 3 a.m. BST with the main event ringwalks scheduled for Midnight ET / 5 a.m. BST. These timings could change due to the length of the undercard bouts.
What channel/stream is Bellator 278?
UK: BBC iPlayer
Showtime will broadcast the fight in the United States, while UK fans can stream the event on BBC iPlayer.
Where is Bellator 278?
The fight card takes place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.
Juliana Velasquez record and bio
Born: October 19, 1986
Total Fights: 12
Liz Carmouche record and bio
Born: February 19, 1984
Total Fights: 23
Bellator 278 Main Card (SHOWTIME, 10:00 PM ET)
Bellator Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout: Juliana Velasquez (c) (124.8) vs. Liz Carmouche (125)
Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card: Enrique Barzola (139.6) vs. Nikita Mikhailov (139.4)
Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card: Jornel Lugo (135.8) vs. Danny Sabatello (134.6)
Christian Edwards (204.4) vs. Grant Neal (204.2)
Nate Andrews (159.2) vs. Manny Muro (160)
Bellator 278 Preliminary Card (YouTube, 9:00 PM ET)
Weber Almeida (145.2) vs. Fabricio Franco (145.6)
Scotty Hao (170) vs. Dante Schiro (170.6)
Makoa Cooper (169) vs. Blake Perry (169.8)
Juliana Velasquez vs. Liz Carmouche: Velasquez and Carmouche are far from the most devastating finishers in the game. Velasquez has gone to the scorecards in more than half of her professional fights. Carmouche recently walloped Watanabe, but that was her first knockout or TKO win in nearly a decade. Carmouche can do damage on the inside and from top position, assuming she can get the fight there. Velasquez is a relatively risk-averse fighter who is content to slow things down and pick away at opponents from a distance. Her high-level judo skills should empower her to fend off takedowns. The betting odds have Velasquez as a small favorite and that sounds about right. Carmouche has advantages she can exploit at Bellator 278, but finding those openings will be difficult. Velasquez UD