Bellator returns to Dublin Ireland for a huge middleweight championship main event fight between reigning champion Johnny Eblen and top contender Fabian Edwards.
Eblen will be defending the belt for the second time this year in this bout as he looks to extend his undefeated record in the sport, while Edwards will get his first shot at gold off the back of a three-fight win streak.
We'll take a look at the fight and break down the match-up between these two fighters before providing you with our best free MMA betting picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while you watch the action.
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Bellator 299 information
- Saturday, September 23rd 2023
- 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
- Middleweight championship bout (185-pounds)
- 3 x 5 minute rounds
- 16:00 ET main card start time
Johnny Eblen vs Fabian Edwards
The current reigning and defending middleweight champion of the world in Bellator, Eblen is an undefeated professional MMA fighter who will be looking to continue his dominance at 185-pounds.
Eblen claimed the title with a dominant, unanimous decision win over Gegard Mousasi back at Bellator 282 in June 2022, and the defended it successfully for the first time in his last outing at Bellator 290 when he dominated against Anatoly Tokov.
En route to the championship, Eblen won seven fights in a row in Bellator, with two coming via first-round knockout and the rest via unanimous decisions. His professional record stands at 13-0 with five knockouts and seven decision wins.
The challenger in this is the brother of UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards, and Fabian comes into this bout in terrific nick.
Fabian has won each of his last three bouts, knocking out the legendary Lyoto Machida in the first-round before earning dominant decision wins over Charlie Ward and former world champion Mousasi in a title eliminator bout last time out.
Prior to that he had lost two in a row, dropping decisions to Austin Vanderford and Costello van Steenis.
His professional record stands at 12-2, with four knockouts, three submissions and five decision victories. Both of his defeats have come via decision.
Route to Victory
Much like his brother Leon, Fabian's world title shot comes against an elite wrestler who is at the very top of his game going into this fight.
Eblen is one of the best wrestlers in the company with some fantastic top control and good submission defence, but his kickboxing has improved tremendously since arriving at American Top Team at the start of his MMA career.
He is more than happy to take the initiative when it comes to leading the tempo and direction of the fight, but against Edwards he will want to be a bit more careful on the feet and will know he is far safer if both fighters are on the ground.
Edwards on the other hand will no doubt take great influence from his brother and how he approached his fights against Usman in the UFC, and will look to implement a similar game plan.
One issue with that is that the 30-year-old kickboxing expert isn't nearly as talented or high-level as his brother is, but the same can probably be said for Eblen and Usman so that may balance out.
Edwards will no doubt look to use lateral movement, his jab and some kicks to maintain distance while Eblen will try to match him and then either catch kicks for the takedown or crowd him against the fence before using his wrestling to control things.
Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.
MMA Picks: Wrestling to dominate
If Edwards can keep this fight standing for the majority fo the 25-minute time limit then he will be the man who is holding the title belt aloft in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday night.
But when you watch the way these two fighters match-up, without the knockout power to end the fight early it seems like a really hard task to see Edwards not ending up on his back during the five rounds.
Eblen is going to apply forward pressure and while Edwards defended well against Mousasi in a similar type of match up, Eblen dominated Mousasi at his own game and showed that there are levels between them when it comes to wrestling.
Neither fighter is a particularly reliable threat to end the fight early, so the likelihood is this one goes the distance.
And while it wouldn't be a huge shock to see Edwards follow in his brother's footsteps of dethroning a top wrestler as the king of his division, the more realistic bet is that Eblen gets him down and controls him enough to earn the decision on the judge's scorecards and remain the undisputed middleweight champion of the world in Bellator.
At -175 there is good value in that outcome, or you can go for the safer bet of just backing him to win at -430 instead.
Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.