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Bellator MMA

The Bellator cage returns to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut for Bellator 256 on Friday night. In the main event, current heavyweight champion and former light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader will rematch Lyoto Machida in the first round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

Machida won the first meeting between the two, scoring a knockout win in a fight that came back in August 2012 under the UFC banner. Bader would go 8-2 in his next 10 fights in the UFC before making the jump to Bellator, where his career fully blossomed. Bader defeated Phil Davis in his first Bellator fight, winning the light heavyweight championship. He followed up that victory with a title defense and then a three-fight run to win in the Heavyweight World Grand Prix.

After his 5-0 start to his Bellator career, Bader fought Cheick Kongo in a heavyweight title defense that ended in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke by Bader. He returned to light heavyweight this past August to defend his 205-pound championship, but was dominated by Vadim Nemkov before being knocked out in the second round.

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Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, won his final two UFC bouts before making his own jump to Bellator, winning his first two fights in the promotion. Machida has now hit a downswing, dropping a split decision to Gegard Mousasi at middleweight and a split decision to Phil Davis at light heavyweight.

Both men will be looking to get back in the win column and advance to the semifinals of the tournament with aspirations of once again holding championship gold.

In the co-main event, Liz Carmouche and Vanessa Porto battle out for what could be No. 1 contender status in the women's flyweight division. Carmouche, a former UFC title challenger, picked up a third-round submission in her promotional debut in September. A win over a very tough Porto moves her one step closer to a shot at champion Juliana Velasquez.

Plus, this card also sees the return of "Alpha" Cat Zingano when she takes on Olivia Parker in a featured bout at 145 pounds. Zingano grinded out a decision over Gabby Holloway in her Bellator debut last September and given her ranking in the women's featherweight division, she could be a win away from fighting for the title. Champion Cris Cyborg and Leslie Smith are scheduled to battle next month, so the timing lines up for Zingano to face the winner.

Here's the fight card for Bellator 256 with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook.

Bellator 256 card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeightclass

Ryan Bader -300

Lyoto Machida +240

Light heavyweight

Liz Carmouche -170

Vanessa Porto +145

Women's flyweight

Jeremy Kennedy -110

Adam Borics -110

Featherweight

Cat Zingaono -800Olivia Parker +550Women's featherweight
Goiti Yamauchi
Dan MoretLightweight

Bellator 256 viewing information

Date: April 9 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena -- Uncasville, Connecticut
TV Channel: Showtime | Stream: Showtime.com or the Showtime App

Prediction

Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida: Machida has a big issue with not making clear statements for definitive wins. Since 2018, four of Machida's six fights have ended in a split decision, with the Brazilian going 2-2 in those bouts. Bader was completely outgunned against Nemkov, but Nemkov looked like a potentially special fighter on that night. Between his wrestling and his power striking, it's unlikely Bader allows Machida to try to pick and poke while point fighting his way to a narrow decision.

Machida isn't Nemkov in his ability to deal with a fighter who brings what Bader does to the cage. That's especially true in 2021 where Machida, while still slick, has lost a step. As long as Bader doesn't allow Machida to dictate the pace of the fight, this should be his to win. Pick: Ryan Bader via TKO2