Excited for this one.
Undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov will make his @BellatorMMA debut in a lightweight fight against Mike Hamel during the main card of #Bellator255.
The event will air live on @SHOsports on April 2 - pic.twitter.com/Tdl6csfmq5 — Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) February 25, 2021
Editor's note: The article has been updated at 10 p.m. to reflect a confirmation from the promotion.
Bellator MMA is building up its 2021 return in a solid way, with multiple names from famous fighting families on its first show back.
A trio of Bellator 255 fight announcements broke on Thursday, with multiple main card-caliber fights booked for its first show of the year. Bellator President Scott Coker broke the first, with Usman Nurmagomedov (11-0) vs. Mike Hamel (7-4) at featherweight set for the event. Bellator 255 will go down on April 2 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Nurmagomedov, cousin of Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, will be making his promotional debut on this card. The Dagestan native is unbeaten as a professional, with 11 wins and 10 finishes. Each of Nurmagomedov’s finishes have taken place within the first two rounds, with his latest his most recent performance against Syvatoslav Shabanov at a co-promoted Fight Nights Global/Gorilla Fighting Championship event in memory of his uncle, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.
Hamel made his Bellator debut in 2020, where he took Adam Borics to a hard-fought split decision. Although unsuccessful, he earned another crack at the elite of the division, and drew an assignment up a weight class against Nurmagomedov. Unlike his foe, Hamel’s finish rate is far lower than 91 percent, but all of his career stoppages have come by knockout.
Following a report from MMA Junkie, the promotion is also adding Neiman Gracie (10-1) vs. Jason Jackson (13-4), likely also on the main card, which will take place at welterweight. On Thursday night, an organization official confirmed the bout to Sherdog.com.
Gracie rebounded from the first loss of his career – a decision to then-champ Rory MacDonald in 2019 – with a heel hook finish of Jon Fitch over a year later. With a 90 percent submission rate and the second-highest total of submission wins in Bellator history, Gracie will look to become the first man to ever tap out his foe.
Since making his short-notice debut against Ed Ruth and taking the former wrestling standout to a split decision, Jackson has rattled off a trio of impressive decisions wins. Beating Kiichi Kunimoto led to Jackson gaining momentum and defeating Jordan Mein. Welcoming Benson Henderson back to the welterweight division in his most recent appearance, “The Ass-Kicking Machine” did just that and advanced his win streak to three in a row.
Finally, MMA DNA first announced that Magomed Magomedov (17-1) would be taking on Jared Scoggins (10-1) in the bantamweight division on the fight card. It is unclear where this bout will land on the card, but Magomedov competed at Bellator 254 in the co-main event slot after a cancellation for a match that served above it. Magomedov confirmed his appearance on the April 2 card on social media.
Scoggins, the younger brother of former UFC contender Justin Scoggins, has won five straight since a 2017 loss to Jesse Bazzi. The bantamweight last fought at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 84 in September 2020, where he captured the vacant 135-pound throne against Thomas Vasquez in a four-round fight.
Magomedov surprised the masses in his thrilling performance against Matheus Mattos in his Bellator debut in December. A former ACB champion before the league merged with WFCA to create Absolute Championship Akhmat, “Tiger” holds the lone win over current UFC titleholder Petr Yan.
Bellator 255 will take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on April 2. The first Bellator card of the year will be capped off by a featherweight grand prix semifinal pitting Patricio Freire against Emmanuel Sanchez in a highly anticipated rematch. The victor will also take home the belt, and will be in line to win the $1 million prize against A.J. McKee.