MW champion Carvalho faces UFC vet Sakara at Bellator 190

Rafael Carvalho

Bellator MMA’s middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho returns for his third title defense as he faces UFC vet Alessio Sakara on Bellator’s latest MMA/kickboxing hybrid card.  Bellator 190 takes place December 9th at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy with one MMA fight webcast at and the four-fight main card broadcast on Spike TV.

The only loss on Rafael Carvalho’s 14-1 career came in his pro MMA debut in December 2011, in Bellator the defending champion is 5-0.  Carvalho won the then-vacant title with a TKO of Brandon Halsey in October 2015 but the second-largest promotion hasn’t done much with the champion since then.  Seven months passed before Carvalho defeated Melvin Manhoef by split decision then another eleven months before Carvalho defeated Manhoef by KO for his first and second defenses.  Now another eight months has passed and Carvalho finally gets a UFC vet.  Sakara enters this bout 19-11, 6-8 in the UFC.  From March 2011 through October 2013 Sakara racked up four losses in a row in the Octagon resulting in his departure from the UFC.  After a “no contest” and a win in a regional show Sakara debut in Bellator in April 2016 where he defeated Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, both by KO.  On the one hand this fight should excite Sakara’s local fans in Italy but on the other it shows the lack of depth to Bellator’s middleweight division.

Brandon Girtz
Brandon Girtz

The co-main event features Brandon Girtz vs. Luka Jelcic.  Girtz brings a solid wrestling base into the cage but 14-7 standout is on a three-loss skid with unanimous decision losses to Adam Piccolotti and Fernando Gonzalez followed by a TKO loss to Derek Campos.  Jelcic is making his promotional debut with a record of 10-2, his only fight in almost twelve months being a 1:15 KO of Roberto Pastuch in April.

MMA prelims at

  • MW: Gregory Babene vs. Tony Zanko

Main card

  • WFW: Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Mary Rouse Mejia
  • LW: Mihail Nica vs. Carlos Miranda
  • LW: Brandon Girtz vs. Luka Jelcic
  • MW title: Rafael Carvalho vs. Alessio Sakara