On Friday night, Bellator MMA returns to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, with a stacked Bellator 260 card. In the main event, Douglas Lima will defend the Bellator welterweight championship against Yaroslav Amosov. Lima is on his third stint as champion at 170 pounds, making him one of the most successful fighters in the promotion's history.
A host of other interesting fights litter the card, including the catchweight co-main event between Paul Daley and the streaking Jason Jackson and Aaron Pico attempting to continue to battle back from early career setbacks.
Let's take a look at those fights and the biggest storylines on the very compelling Bellator 260 card.
Lima finally defends his title
When Lima won the Bellator welterweight championship for a third time in October 2019, the idea that he wouldn't make his first title defense until June 2021 would have seemed ridiculous. A pandemic and a trip to middleweight tied Lima up and stalled the momentum he built in winning the title and the Welterweight World Grand Prix. Losing in his bid for the then-vacant middleweight title against Gegard Mousasi was a minor setback, but Lima now has the chance to start the ball rolling again in the welterweight division where he's long been a force.
Of course, Amosov is no easy out. He holds a 25-0 in his career and is 6-0 in the Bellator cage with no opponent able to fully solve the puzzle. The blueprint for beating Amosov may have been laid out in his most recent fight. Logan Storley used pressure to put Amosov in bad positions and nearly took the fight before Amosov was awarded the split decision. Whether Lima can figure out a way to keep Amosov uncomfortable is the biggest storyline in the night's main event.
'Semtex' tries for four straight victories
That Daley is in a co-main event for a major card while riding a three-fight winning streak is something approaching incredible. In April 2008, Daley, then a 25-fight veteran, was publicly contemplating retirement. He continued on through EliteXC, a brief UFC stint, Strikeforce and Bellator, with stops at smaller promotions along the way. In all those years since, Daley has only lost back-to-back fights twice. Daley managed to knock out Sabah Homasi after surviving an early onslaught in April.
While Bellator president Scott Coker has expressed a level of frustration with Daley wanting to fight at a catchweight rather than the 170-pound limit, it seems a win over the very talented Jason Jackson could put him in the mix for a title shot in the near future, and that's a wild thing to be saying in 2021.
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Pico continues his redemption arc
Before his MMA career even began, Pico was considered by many as a sure-fire future superstar and maybe a potential all-time great. Of course, things haven't worked out that way, immediately going bad when he was submitted just 24 seconds into his June 2017 pro debut and continuing when he lost back-to-back fights in 2019 as his level of competition increased.
Pico has had something of a career reset since the start of 2020, dominating three straight fights for impressive stoppage victories against B-tier opposition. There are still a lot of unknowns with Pico at this point and he will need to show advancement to the point where he can handle the next big step up, but Friday's fight with Aiden Lee is an appropriate next move in the rebuild.
The most important thing to remember with Pico is that he is still only 24 years old. So long as he remains committed to improvement, the skills are there. It's all about putting everything together and living up to the blue-chip prospect label that was slapped on him while still a teenager.