Benson Henderson and Peter Queally headline Bellator 285 from 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland on Friday.
Henderson, a former UFC lightweight champion and two-time Bellator championship challenger who is in desperate need of a win, last fought at Bellator 273 and defeated Islam Mamedov through split decision to halt a three-fight losing streak.
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Queally had won two straight fights before facing Patricky Freire for the vacant lightweight title at Bellator 270. But the 33-year-old fell short, being knocked out in the second round. So he returns to his homeland in search of the most meaningful victory of his career.
Everything you need to know about Bellator 285: Henderson vs. Queally is right here.
Henderson’s (29-11) tenure with Bellator MMA has been a mixed bag. The former UFC lightweight champion is 6-6 since making the switch to promotions, including victories over Brandon Thatch and Jorge Masvidal. In January, a key victory over Islam Mamedov (21-2-1) placed “Smooth” on the right track and secured him the No. 3 spot in the division. Usman Nurmagomedov is the only clear challenger ahead of Henderson, and a win over Queally, who has a doctor’s stoppage victory over champion Patricky Pitbull, puts him in a good position for what is likely his final run.
“This is my final four fights,” Henderson remarked at the Bellator 285 media day. “Give it everything I’ve got, the finest I’ve got.” After that, I’m finished, and it’s my wife’s time. Give her the opportunity to become a world champion. I’ll pick up the kids from school, take them to chess practice, and prepare meals. It adds to the pressure: I only have four years left in my life. I believe it increases the pressure, but I constantly increase the strain on myself to get the most out of myself.”
If Queally (13-6-1) wants to keep his lightweight status, he must win by any means necessary. Patricky advanced to the main event after a second-round medical stoppage. A second-round TKO loss in the rematch for the lightweight belt put out any fires. Some believe Queally won the first fight on a technicality and Patricky showed to be the better fighter in the rematch. If Queally wants to counter that charge, he must defeat an aging and erratic Henderson.
“I was depressed for a week just moping around the house,” Queally said of the second Patricky fight, according to CBS Sports. “I was so unhappy because — losing is losing, I’ve lost many times in my life, as have all of us — I was especially sad about that one because I had beaten him.” All of the odds were stacked in my favor for the following one. I had thrashed him. It was now five rounds instead of three, which I preferred. Everything that had changed was in my favor. I felt like everything was set up for me to beat him. Even the fight itself was going swimmingly, I reasoned until it wasn’t… I believe I became overconfident. I believed he was going out faster than he was, so I jumped in with that right hand, and he made me pay for it, and that was the end of it.
“I believe that if the dominoes fall in my favor, it will be a quick rematch.” Or, at least, I have one more struggle until it’s evident. “I think if I get some luck and things go my way, I’ll be able to fight Patricky soon after this one.”
The co-main event should be entertaining and messy for as long as possible. Yoel Romero, a multiple-time UFC title challenger, pits his supernatural strength against Melvin Manhoef, the sport’s most prolific knockout artist. Romero is a natural: he won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the Summer Olympics in 2000 and is now knocking out adversaries 15 years his junior 22 years later. Manhoef is the most consistent knockout threat in the sport. The 50-fight veteran, who plans to retire on Friday night, has the highest knockout rate of any professional boxer with at least 15 fights – an incredible 91% with 29 KOs in 31 victories.
Preliminary Card (MMA Fighting at 1 p.m. ET)
Peter Queally vs. Benson Henderson: Henderson’s style has caught up with him, but it still provides for difficult fights. Henderson fights from a distance with long kicks, avoiding damage. His ability to avoid getting hit clean has contributed to his longevity in the sport; he’s only been stopped from strikes twice in 40 professional fights. This point-fighting style has some disadvantages. Henderson’s third Bellator fight ended in a split decision, with only one in his favor. Queally was a late bloomer in the sport. It took him six years to discover his knockout power, but he has done so several times since. Despite his top-ten ranking, it’s too early to tell how high Queally’s ceiling is. He is only 2-2 in Bellator, with his debut fight against Patricky Pitbull lacking true decisiveness. Rafael dos Anjos, a former UFC champion, is the only guy to legitimately KO Henderson. I doubt Queally has the consistency or the style to beat Henderson in a decision. Henderson by way of UD
|Benson Henderson -200||Peter Queally +170||Lightweight|
|Yoel Romero -650||Melvin Manhoef +475||Light heavyweight|
|Mads Burnell -500||Pedro Carvalho +380||Featherweight|
|Dayana Silva -140||Leah McCourt +120||Women’s featherweight|
|Ciaran Clarke -700||Georges Sasu +500||Featherweight|