Bellator 176 takes place today at the Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy and will be headlined by a title fight rematch as Rafael Carvalho will defend the middleweight title against Melvin Manhoef.
Along with the middleweight title rematch, the four fight card on Spike (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT) will see the return of Anastasia Yankova as she will look to remain undefeated when she meets Elina Kallionidou in a catchweight bout of 133 pounds. Rounding out the rest of the card will be a pair of lightweight bouts as Djamil Chan will look to get back on track when he meets Valeriu Mircea and Mihail Nica takes on Samba Coulibaly.
Now let’s take a closer look at the four fights that will take place today at Bellator 176.
Rafael Carvalho (13-1) vs. Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1, 2 NC)
Carvalho entered Bellator in 2014 and became the Bellator middleweight champion in his third fight in the promotion as he defeated Brandon Halsey by TKO at Bellator 144 in 2015. His first title defense came in May of last year as he scored a split decision against Manhoef at Bellator 155.
- Tied with multiple fighters including Manhoef for the 5th most TKO/KO wins in Bellator middleweight division history.
- Two of his four victories in Bellator have come by split decision.
- This is his first fight since defeating Manhoef at Bellator 155 (323 days ago).
Just like Carvalho, this is the first fight for Manhoef since their first meeting last year. While two of the three judges scoring their first fight gave it to Carvalho, the MMA media polled by MMADecisions.com felt that Manhoef should have walked away with the Bellator middleweight title in their first meeting.
- Manhoef has gone 2-2, 1NC since joining Bellator in 2014.
- Both of his wins in Bellator have come by knockout in the first round.
- Twenty-eight of his thirty mixed martial arts victories have come by TKO/KO.
Anastasia Yankova (4-0) vs. Elina Kallionidou (5-1)
Yankova trains at American Kickboxing Academy in California and has gone 2-0 inside the Bellator cage. She is coming off a split decision victory in September against Veta Arteaga and all of her Bellator fights have been catchweight bouts.
- Yankova opened her career with three straight submission victories and two of those came in the first round.
- Her previous four opponents have a combined record of 4-10.
Kallionidou made her Bellator debut in December and dropped a decision against Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 169. Prior to that fight, three of her five wins had come by TKO and four of those fights came in Cage Survivor.
- Two of her three TKO victories have come in the opening round.
- Won the Cage Survivor bantamweight title in 2015 with a decision victory over Foteini Kromida.
Djamil Chan (12-3) vs. Valeriu Mircea (13-4)
Bellator 176 will mark the third fight in the promotion for Chan as he won his promotional debut against Richard Patishnock at Bellator 153 by TKO. He returned to the Bellator cage five months later at Bellator 161 and dropped a decision against Derek Campos.
- The defeat against Derek Campos snapped a seven fight winning streak.
- Ten of his twelve victories have come by stoppage and nine of those are by TKO/KO.
Mircea also made his Bellator debut last year and this will be his second fight in the promotion. In his promotional debut, he was submitted by Goiti Yamauchi at Bellator 168 and the defeat snapped a six fight winning streak.
- Mircea has won ten of his last twelve fights.
- Eleven of his thirteen wins are by stoppage and six of them are by submission.
Mihail Nica (5-0) vs. Samba Coulibaly (11-4)
Today marks the Bellator debut of Nica, who was originally scheduled to face Carrington Banks. However, Banks was forced to pull out of the fight with an undisclosed injury and Coulibaly stepped up on five days notice to take the fight.
- All of his victories are by stoppage and four of them have come in the opening round.
- The only time he has made it out of the opening round came last year as he defeated Raffaele Spallitta by TKO in the second round.
Coulibaly is coming off a submission win last month against Christopher Sengele and this will be his second fight of 2017. He has been competing in mixed martial arts since 2011 and this will be his fifth fight since 2015.
- This is the second fight for Coulibaly in 22 days.
- Coulibaly has won nine of his last ten fights and six of those wins have come by submission.