Bellator returns to South Dakota for a huge welterweight main event fight between former interim world champion Logan Storley and Brennan Ward this week.
Storley makes his return to the cage for the first time since losing a world title fight against champion Yaroslov Amosov, while Ward has won his last three-in-a-row to set up this fight as he looks to break into the top five of the rankings in the organization.
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 298 information
- Friday, August 11th 2023
- Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Welterweight bout (170-pounds)
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
- Non-title fight
Logan Storley vs Brennan Ward
The former interim welterweight champion of the world, Storley comes into this fight looking to get back on the winning trail following a one-sided defeat in his last outing.
Holding a professional record of 14-2 in mixed martial arts with eight by knockout and six by decision, Storley's only two defeats in his career have come against the current champion and both times he managed to go the distance. Between his two fights against the Russian though, Storley claimed three consecutive decision victories.
He defeated Dante Schiro back in August 2021, before controlling Neiman Gracie in the first five-round fight of his career in February 2022. He followed that up with a stunning upset win over Michael 'Venom' Page in London back in May 2022, claiming a split decision where most believed he won the fight convincingly.
He'll be coming up against Bellator veteran and an in-form Ward, who holds a professional record of 17-6 coming into this fight. Those 17 wins include 12 wins by knockout and four more by submission.
Ward suffered a brutal knockout loss to Paul Daley back at Bellator 170 in January 2017, before following that with a submission loss to Fernando Gonzalez in August of the same year. He took a near-five-year break at that point in his professional career but returned in 2022 in impressive fashion.
His comeback fight saw him earn a knockout win over Brandon Bell in the second round, before stopping Kassius Kayne in the second round of their fight just four months later. His last bout was in February of this year where he claimed a third consecutive second-round knockout win against Sabah Homasi following a beautiful head-kick
Route to victory
This is a classic grappler vs striker match-up in Bellator's welterweight division, between two top operators at their preferred styles.
Storley is a four-time Division 1 All-American wrestler with brilliant takedown offense and defense, while also being a decent boxer on the feet. He has a strong right overhand punch that he often throws to hide his takedown attempts, and then once he gets his opponents down to the mat he is able to control them completely and dominate until he gets a finish or manages to run the clock down for the end of the round.
He will want to take the center of the cage and use his wrestling to control the fight like normal, and if he can threaten a submission from the top that will open up strikes for ground and pound when you consider that Ward has been submitted three times in his Bellator career to date.
Ward is an explosive striker who throws everything with the intent to finish the fight, however, he is no slouch when it comes to the wrestling game himself.
The 35-year-old is a former Division 3 All-American wrestler where he lost in the finals, but also grew up in a striking household with a father who opened and ran a boxing gym. That shows with his excellent jab and powerful cross punches, and he will have to make Storley fight going backwards to avoid the wrestling exchanges and have his best chance of success.
If he can back Storley against the cage then he will have a great opportunity to land boxing combinations and with his power, he is capable of ending the fight at the first opportunity. The fact he has only ever been to a third round in his career twice in 21 fights raises questions about his cardio in the latter rounds so he will need to choose whether he goes super aggressive early for the finish or holds back slightly.
Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.
MMA picks: Storley to dominate
This fight goes one of two ways, and the common consensus is the one that we believe will happen.
There is a reason that Storley has risen up the ranks so quickly in Bellator and it's because, with the exception of the current champion, nobody can hang with him when it comes to wrestling.
He is too explosive with his takedowns, his top control is fantastic and he stays busy with ground and pound to do damage, win rounds and ensure the referee has no reason to stand him up.
The opening round will be interesting because it will show how well Ward can cope with him and also how much of a threat he can be with his striking and power, but ultimately the longer the clock ticks down the more likely a win for Storley becomes.
Back Storley to get the victory once more, with a trip to the scorecards most likely although a late finish on an exhausted opponent shouldn't be ruled out either.
Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.