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Bellator 298 predictions, preview | Storley vs. Ward

Bellator 298 is set to go down tomorrow night (Fri., Aug. 11, 2023) inside Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota featuring a Welterweight scrap between former interim champion, Logan Storley, and hard-hitting contender, Brennan Ward. In the co-main event, former interim Heavyweight champion, Valentin Moldavsky, will battle Steve Mowry in a 265-pound rematch.

Logan Storley vs. Brennan Ward

Storley’s run as interim Welterweight champion was short-lived. After claiming the title by defeating dynamic striker, Michael Page, in May 2022, “Storm” was tasked with attempting to unify the belts against division champion, Yaroslav Amosov at Bellator 291 in Feb. 2023. Despite his best efforts, Storley lost a unanimous decision and now finds himself on the road back to a title fight. And that road has a huge obstacle in the way in the form of Brennan Ward, who has resurrected his combat career rather nicely. Indeed, Ward returned to action following a five-year hiatus in Feb. 2022, and has since won three straight fights via second-round technical knockout (TKO), his most recent coming against Sabah Homasi in a wildly-entertaining fight at Bellator 290 (relive it here). Storley is currently ranked No. 1 in the division, so if Ward can get a big win here he will shoot up drastically and make a great case for the next title shot. This is a firecracker of a fight because both men love to bang it out on the feet, though Storley can get the job done with his wrestling more often than not. Both have great college wrestling credentials, but if goes into an all-out slugfest, Ward usually comes out on top. That said, Storley may be a bit more technical, so it behooves Ward not to get to overzealous or else “Storm” will capitalize on it.

Prediction: Storley via unanimous decision

Valentin Moldavsky vs. Steve Mowry

After winning his first six fights with Bellator MMA, which includes winning the interim Heavyweight title with a win over Tim Johnson in 2021, Moldavsky has cooled down a bit. He failed to unify the titles against Ryan Bader, has a no contest (NC) against Steve Mowry and lost to Linton Vassell via technical knockout (TKO). Despite his setbacks, the Russian big man is still ranked No. 2 in the division, so a win can get him right back into the thick of the championship picture. Mowry, on the other hand, is right behind him at No. 3, a ranking he earned by going 6-0-1-1 with the promotion. One of his blemishes came against Moldavsky after their initial encounter was halted early in round one after an inadvertent eye poke a minute into the fight left him unable to continue. Now, the two big men will run it back to see who will likely earn the chance to face the winner of the upcoming title fight between champion, Ryan Bader, and Linton Vassell, set to go down at Bellator 300 in October. They can’t really take much from their first fight since it ended so quickly, but it’s no secret heavy hands is the name of the game here. With Moldavsky, however, the sambo has to be a worry for all his opponents. Mowry isn’t as accomplished as Moldavsky when it comes to grappling, so he will look to utilize his size and reach advantage to put paws on his fellow big man and to prevent him from getting too close.

Prediction: Moldavsky via unanimous decision

Dalton Rosta vs. Aaron Jeffery

Rosta fits the “home-grown talent” label “to the T,” fighting his entire pro MMA career with Bellator, winning all eight of his fights in the process. With four knockouts and four decisions, Rosta has a well-rounded skill-set, though we have yet to see much of his jiu-jitsu on display. But the same can be said for his opponent because Jeffery only has one submission victory on his resume, with nine knockouts to accompany. Jeffery (No. 6) is coming off a tough loss to John Salter earlier this year but is looking to infiltrate the Top 5 with a win over the man sitting at No. 4. But to be able to take out “Hercules” he will have to be near-perfect because that is what Rosta has been throughout his career. Jeffery is as relentless as they come and has a battery pack that last for days. While Jeffery may have a slight experience edge here, Rosta’s game is a just a tad bit more polished, and will ultimately do enough to score a highlight reel finish.

Prediction: Rosta via second round TKO

Sidney Outlaw vs. Islam Mamedov

Outlaw will attempt to get back in the win column after falling short to Tofiq Musayev at Bellator 283, a loss that cost him a spot in the Lightweight Word Grand Prix and a shot at $1 million. Ranked No. 6, Outlaw’s only other loss in Bellator came to Michael Chandler. As for Mamedov, he is 3-1 so far with the promotion and owns an impressive overall record of 22-2-1. He holds wins over Brent Primus, Zach Zane and Nick Browne, with his lone defeat within the promotion coming against Benson Henderson. A win over Outlaw will surely get him into the Top 5 and inch him closer to the championship conversation. That said, if he is eying a title fight it will likely take a couple of impressive wins since the Grand Prix is still in effect and it won’t crown a winner until possibly early 2024. But the immediate task at hand is trying to take out “Da Gun.” And he will do just that with his suffocating grappling, which will allow him to dictate the pace of the fight for a full 15 minutes.

Prediction: Mamedov via unanimous decision

James Gallagher vs. James Gonzalez

Despite Gallagher showing early signs of possibly being a future poster-boy for Bellator MMA, it just doesn’t feel as if the Irishman has managed to fit into that spotlight. Sure, he’s had some impressive wins — including two separate four-fight win streaks — but a pair of big losses to Ricky Bandejas and most recently to current division champion, Patchy Mix, in Nov. 2021 before he ruled the Bantamweight division (highlights) really halted his ascension. Now, almost two years removed from his last loss, Gallagher will return to action in an attempt to get a fresh start. His absence has prevented him from earning a Top 10 ranking at Bantamweight. I am not too sure that a win over Gonzales will do the track, but it’s definitely a good start as he begins a new chapter at Featherweight. That’s because Gonzalez is only 1-1 so far in his young tenure with the promotion, and is coming off a one-sided loss to Aaron Pico. The key for Gallagher is to not get too overzealous, which could happen since he will be eager to get the action going fast in an attempt to set the pace, especially after such a long layoff. Then again, we may see a super-cautions fighter looking to ease his way back into the swing of a real MMA fight after 22 months on the sidelines. I expect for a cooler more calm approach to prevail in this fight.

Prediction: Gallagher via unanimous decision

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This story originally appeared on MMA Mania

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