Yaroslav Amosov vs Logan Storley arguably delivered the Fight of the Night as top contenders for the Bellator welterweight championship in 2020. They run it back two years later, but this time with the undisputed world title at stake.
Amosov (26-0) makes the first defense of his Bellator welterweight championship against Storley at Bellator 291 on Saturday, taking place inside 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. It marks Amosov’s first fight since dethroning Douglas Lima in June 2021. Amosov pulled out a title defense against Michael Page last year to. Amosov joined unified heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk, former undisputed lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and former boxing world champions Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko in the war. Following the liberation of his hometown of Irpin, Amosov rescued his Bellator welterweight championship from his mother’s home and made preparations for his Bellator return.
“The situation in Ukraine now is motivation,” Amosov, who will return to Ukraine after visiting his wife and son following Saturday’s fight, told reporters at the Bellator 291 media day. “Sometimes I think I’m training, and I think it’s hard training for me, not very good. Then after I think, I know why I’m fighting. For [Ukrainian soldiers], it’s hard. For me, just training.
“It’s now a little bit different because I understand. Before I was only a fighter, a sportsman. The cage was my home. Now I understand it’s only sports. It’s a big motivation for me, of course. I train, hard training. But I understand it’s not No. 1… No. 1 is saving your family, you know? Your people.”
Storley (14-1) stepped in for the champion and fought Page in Amosov’s absence. Storley out-grappled Page in the latter’s hometown of London last May, and walked away as the interim welterweight champion. Dublin will serve as a proving ground for Storley to distinguish himself as the undisputed champion and correct the only loss on his pro record. Storley deeply sympathizes with Amosov and admits that he can’t possibly relate to what his opponent contends with. Storley must frame Amosov as a sportsman and competitor if he is to succeed on Saturday.
“You feel for him. It’s not a position that you or I are in right now where I understand where that’s at. At the end of the day, this is a sporting event. It’s a competition,” Storley told CBS Sports. “I know once he came back, he’s training 100%. I know that he’s getting ready to try and beat me and I know that I’m getting ready to try and beat him. That’s what it is. There is nothing more to it other than two competitors in MMA going into Dublin to figure out who is bringing the belt home.
“Obviously, he and I have never talked crap to each other. There’s no smack talk. We want to find out who the best is. That’s where I leave it and at the end of the day, I have to go and compete against him. I’m going to do that. Nothing changes in my mind until that fight is over… I hope things get better for them.”
Top five featherweights Pedro Carvalho and Jeremy Kennedy collide in the co-main event. Carvalho, a teammate of Conor McGregor’s at SBG Ireland, should receive a warm reception in his adopted hometown of Dublin as he pursues a second straight win. Kennedy is coming off a high-profile TKO (injury) win over Aaron Pico and will boast a three-fight winning streak if he emerges victorious on Saturday. Caravalho and Kennedy ranked No. 3 and No. 5 respectively in Bellator’s rankings, could cement themselves as next in line for Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull.
Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
Bellator 291 card, odds
|Yaroslav Amosov (c) -160||Logan Storley +135||Welterweight championship|
|Jeremy Kennedy -280||Pedro Carvalho +230||Featherweight|
|Peter Queally -140||Bryce Logan +120||Lightweight|
|Sinead Kavanagh -190||Janay Harding +160||Women’s featherweight|
|Ciaran Clarke -400||Leonardo Sinis +310||147.5-pound catchweight|
Bellator 291 viewing information
Date: Feb. 25 | Start time: 4 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: 3Arena — Dublin, Ireland
TV channel: Showtime
Yaroslav Amosov vs. Logan Storley: These two were neck-and-neck the first time they fought and expectations are that the second fight will be competitive as well. Amosov and Storley are both talented grapplers. Should their wrestling cancel each other, Amosov is likely the more component striker. Storley found some success with takedowns by overcoming fierce resistance from Amosov in their first meeting. If Storley can ground Amosov, it is imperative that the interim champion rack up control time and use ground-and-pound to steal rounds. If Amosov can keep the fight at range, he can lean on his superior striking to pick away at his opponent. I would not be entirely surprised if Amosov mixed things up, landing or threatening takedowns to keep Storley guessing. The two belt holders are durable, tough, and skilled. Expect a thoughtful, competitive fight over 25 minutes, but one that goes in Amosov’s favor.