Breaking down Friday night’s MMA fights at Bellator 186

All eyes will be set on four fights on Friday inside the Bryce Jordan Center during Bellator 186.

No, we are not talking about the main-card draw.

Bellefonte native Mike Putnam and Petersburg’s Ethan Goss both have preliminary fights. Former Penn State wrestlers and Harrisburg natives Ed Ruth and Phil Davis return to Happy Valley to compete on the main card. It will be each of their first times competing in the area since their college wrestling careers ended.

There are still 10 other fights on the card, and here is the whole night broken down:

Main Card

Ryan Bader (23-5) vs. Linton Vassell (18-5, 1 no contest)

This is the main event of the evening.

Bader will look to defend his light heavyweight crown against the Englishman, Vassell. Bader just claimed his spot at the top of the weight class after beating Davis in June for the title.

Bader has an extensive career in mixed martial arts. He won the Ultimate Fighter in 2008, giving him a spot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He fought with the UFC until November of 2016 and then made the switch to Bellator. His losses have come against some high-profile fighters like Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida, Glover Teixeira and Anthony Johnson.

Vassell has been a staple in Bellator. He began in 2013 and is now getting his second crack at a championship. He lost his first chance in 2014 at Bellator 130 to Emanuel Newton.

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (6-0) vs. Emily Ducote (6-2)

This fight is a history-maker for Bellator.

One of these fighters will become the first ever women’s champion. The duo is set to compete at the flyweight, which is a maximum of 125 pounds. These two have tangled before.

Macfarlane won by unanimous decision in December of 2016 at Bellator 167. During Thursday night’s weigh-ins, Macfarlane said she felt like she was one of “Bellator’s homegrown fighters.”

Since her loss to Macfarlane, Ducote is on a two-fight winning streak. The most recent victory came in July.

Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis (17-4, 1 NC) vs. Leo Leite (10-0)

Davis makes a return to Happy Valley for the first time since his collegiate wrestling career ended.

He has had a very successful MMA career with a long stint with the UFC. He quickly became the light heavyweight champion for Bellator in just one year with the organization. Davis’ losses have come against some solid competition in Johnson, Rashad Evans and Bader (twice).

Leite is making his Bellator debut. He brings some raw power to the mix. For casual fans, Leite’s name might not mean anything, but Davis knows what he is in for with this fight.

Ed Ruth (3-0) vs. Chris Dempsey (11-5)

Ruth, much like Davis, returns to Penn State for the first time since his wrestling career ended with three national championships. He is very early on in his MMA career but it is off to a powerful start.

In his three wins, Ruth has knocked out every single one of his opponents — only one has reached the second round. Look for Ruth to do much of the same with Dempsey, who has lost his last three fights by knockouts.

Dempsey is a wily veteran. He competed for the UFC for a short time. He said he plans to use his knowledge to pick up the win over the much younger Ruth.

Saad Awad (20-9) vs. Zach Freeman (9-2)

Awad had had the most time with Bellator of all the fighters on Friday night.

He had his first fight in 2009 at Bellator 10. Then in 2013, he had his first fight back with Bellator. He has gone 8-5 in the four-year span.

Freeman is competing in his second Bellator fight of his career. His first didn’t last very long. He submitted Aaron Pico in 24 seconds in what was the debut for both in Bellator. If Pico’s name rings a bell, he faced off with former Penn State wrestler Frank Molinaro in the Olympic wrestling team trials last year — Pico was only 19.

Prelim Card

Mike ‘Too Pretty’ Putnam (1-1) vs. Scott Clymer (0-0)

Putnam will look to make Clymer’s debut as a pro one to forget.

Putnam hasn’t fought in three years, so the question will be is he able to shake off the rust? He will have a whole crowd behind once he steps in the octagon to help out.

Putnam lost his last fight by unanimous decision. Look for him to shift back to fight style when he was an amateur, get the fight to the mat and ground and pound.

Clymer is 3-0 as an amateur but if you total up the amount of time his fights have taken — they don’t add up to one pro match (15 minutes). Clymer could get gassed early.

Ethan Goss (3-3) vs. Andrew Salas (3-1)

Goss is a Heavy Machine Operator/Foreman for DC Goodman in Huntingdon by day and MMA fighter by night. Goss looks like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine with the mutton chops on his face. It took him some time to get on the card but eventually it came to fruition.

“We heard about it early,” he said after Thursday night’s weigh-ins. “We talked to the right people and got a little help from some people.”

He said he agreed to fight a couple of people and was suppose to fight Thad Frick, however he got Salas as that is who Bellator wanted.

“It is going to be bittersweet once I beat him in front of Bellator,” Goss said.

Logan Storley (6-0) vs. Matt Secor (9-4)

Storley is a University of Minnesota product and will continue his perfect professional career. His last fight was rather quick with a knockout of his opponent with elbows 1:44 into the first round.

Secor has gone 2-2 before his fight with Storley. His last fight like Storley’s was ended in the first round by an armlock submission.

Mike Wilkins (7-4) vs. Brett Martinez (6-4)

Wilkins enters the fight on a two-fight losing streak. He has lost by decision and submission. His last win was in August of 2016.

Martinez is on a three-fight slump and hasn’t fought since 2015.

Francis Healy (7-4) vs. Frank Buenafuente (7-4)

Healy and Buenafuente are each making their Bellator debut. One difference is Healy is coming in off a win as Buenafuente is on a two-fight losing streak.

Dominic Mazzotta (12-2) vs. Matt Lozano (8-5)

Mazzotta is in his second Bellator fight and will look to rebound from his Bellator-debut loss. Lozano will look for his first win since December of 2016.

Tywan Claxton (0-0) vs. Johnny Bonilla-Bowman (1-0)

Claxton is making his professional start. Bonilla-Bowman won his first pro start and it came at Bellator 125 — three years ago.

Mike Otwell (3-1) vs. Michael Trizano (4-0)

Otwell and Trizano are each making their debuts for Bellator. Otwell hasn’t fought in six month as Trizano just competed in September.

Josh Fremd (1-0) vs. Ryan Parker (0-0)

Fremd will compete in his first Bellator fight as Parker makes his professional debut. Fremd is riding a six-fight win streak that began during his amateur stint. Parker enters on a three-bout win streak that finished his amateur career.

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