Bellator’s historic event in London on Friday will proceed with a new headlining bout.
Heavyweight legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic suffered an injury and has been pulled from the main event of Bellator 200, where he was scheduled for a rematch against Las Vegan Roy Nelson at The SSA Arena.
The news was first reported Monday by The Telegraph. A middleweight title bout between Gegard Mousasi and champion Rafael Carvalho has been moved up to the main event for the card, which will air tape-delayed on Paramount.
Undefeated welterweight star Michael Page will face David Rickels in the co-main event.
The organization is seeking a replacement opponent for Nelson, who knocked out Filipovic at UFC 137 in 2011.
“LOOKING FOR A FIGHT LONDON!” Nelson posted on social media. “If you think you can beat me up, please hit up (Bellator officials).”
— Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) May 21, 2018
Friday’s rematch had been tabbed as an alternate bout for the organization’s heavyweight grand prix.
Filipovic, 43, last competed on Rizin’s New Year’s Eve event in Japan, knocking out Tsuyoshi Kosaka in the first round for his eighth consecutive win.
Maia not ready to retire
Welterweight grappling star Demian Maia suffered his third straight tough loss Saturday to fall well out of title contention. He’s not ready to start thinking about retirement, though.
“I still have three fights under my contract,” Maia said during the UFC Fight Night post-event news conference following his loss to Kamaru Usman in Santiago, Chile. “I want to do those three fights. It was short notice for this fight, I only prepared for three weeks. And actually, my last three fights were against wrestlers.
“My game plan is to take the fighters down, so it was tough fights. But I still have the will to finish my contract.”
Maia struggled to get Usman to the ground, going 0-for-15 on takedown attempts to extend his streak to 49 consecutive attempts over the last three fights without a successful takedown.
The 40-year-old may not be able to compete at the elite level in the welterweight division anymore, but he still has goals. Maia has 19 total wins in the UFC, just behind the 20 racked up by Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre and Donald Cerrone.
Usman hopes his victory is enough to finally earn him a title shot.
“I think I should fight for the belt next,” Usman said. “I just dominated (Maia) better than (champion) Tyron Woodley. Tyron ran from him the whole fight. Tyron threw, what, the fewest strikes in a championship fight ever? And I just went out and I dominated the guy from start to finish.
“Let’s be honest. Nobody in my division wants to fight me, because I am the hardest fight for anybody.”
UFC confirms Russia event
The UFC confirmed its first event in Russia will be a Fight Night card at Olympic Stadium in Moscow.
“Russia is a key part of UFC’s international expansion strategy,” UFC Senior Vice President of International and Content David Shaw said in a statement. “The demand from our fans to bring a live event to Russia has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential this market holds for us, we knew this was the perfect time to bring UFC Fight Night to Moscow.”
No fights for the event have been announced.
UFC supports legal gambling
The Las Vegas-based organization expressed support for last week’s Supreme Court decision allowing states to pass bills to legalize wagering on professional sports in a statement issued to the Review-Journal.
“UFC supports legalized, regulated sports betting, as we have seen firsthand in Nevada the success of well-regulated gaming,” the statement read. “We look forward to working with Congress and state legislatures to support policy that ensures the integrity of our sport and makes the best sense for our fans and our business.”