Following Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden, Bellator MMA returns to the Empire State to make its Upstate New York debut set to invade Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. with a welterweight main event pitting former Bellator champ Andrey Koreshkov (19-2) against Chidi Njokuani (17-4, 1 NC) on Friday, August 25 for Bellator 182.
In addition, a second welterweight bout will serve as the evening’s co-main showdown when Brennan Ward (14-5) meets Fernando Gonzalez (26-14) in a bout sure to produce fireworks, while featherweight A.J. McKee returns to the cage fresh off anESPN “SportsCenter” Top-Ten finish of Dominic Mazzotta in his last outing.
The 26-year-old Russian phenom Koreshkov has been ascendant since his very first professional fight, claiming 19 career victories over 21 bouts, including wins in each of his first 13 contests. Fighting out of Omsk, Russia, “Spartan” will be making his 13th career appearance under the Bellator MMA banner and his first of 2017. Under the direction of Bellator MMA, Koreshkov has accrued a total of 10 victories over a four-year run, highlighted by a welterweight world title triumph over current champion Douglas Lima and a successful title defense over Benson Henderson at Bellator 153. Since making his professional debut in 2010, Koreshkov has collected 13 finishes, including 10 knockouts, eight of which came in the first round, making him one of the most dangerous 170-pounders in the game.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Njokuani enters the cage riding momentum of an impressive streak that has seen him win eight consecutive bouts and 12 of his last 13. Since joining the Bellator MMA fray in 2015, the 28-year-old Njokuani has collected four victories, including a pair of knockout finishes. Most recently, “Chidi Bang Bang” defeated Melvin Guillard at Bellator 171 in January, adding to his current run of success.
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The 28-year-old Ward enters the contest as one of the most feared fighters in Bellator MMA’s stacked 170-pound class. With 13 finishes over his 14 career victories, including nine knockouts, “Irish” possesses the perfect combination of pure strength and fearlessness. A 14-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, the Waterford, Conn. native will look to earn his 10th win under the direction of the Scott Coker-led promotion. Since joining Bellator MMA in 2012, Ward has yet to see a bout enter the third frame and has finished six of his nine opponents in the opening round. Fans can expect to see fireworks when Ward is inside the Bellator cage on August 25.
Hailing from Menifee, Calif., the 33-year-old Gonzalez will enter the Bellator cage for the eighth time in his 14-year professional career. Gonzalez has seen a great deal of success since joining forces with Bellator MMA; collecting six victories over a seven-fight, three-year span, highlighted by a first round knockout of Karo Parisyan. Gonzalez has come on strong as of late, tallying nine wins over his last 12 bouts, including a pair of first round knockouts and a five-fight winning streak from 2014-16. With 16 of his 26 career victories coming by way of knockout or submission, the 40-fight veteran will look to add to that total as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with one of the most unshakable talents the welterweight division has to offer.
The son of respected MMA veteran Antonio McKee, A.J. McKee spent his entire childhood in the gym soaking up every bit of knowledge and experience available to him. The 22-year-old prodigy has applied that knowledge inside the Bellator cage and has made quite a splash in his first eight fights as an MMA professional, racking up six finishes in eight outings. The Long Beach, Calif. native heads to the East Coast looking to stay undefeated with another impressive finish.
Nationally-recognized for hosting legendary, fight-of-the-year-level boxing events, rivaling venues in major cities such as Las Vegas, Miami and New York City, Turning Stone was one of the first venues in New York to host professional MMA after it was legalized by the State last year, further distinguishing it as the premier destination for live combat sports. The August 25 Bellator MMA event will mark Turning Stone’s third professional MMA event in less than a year.
Additional main and preliminary card bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.
Updated Bellator 182: Koreshkov vs. NjokuaniMain Card:
Welterweight Main Event: Andrey Koreshkov (19-2) vs. Chidi Njokuani (17-4, 1 NC)
Welterweight Co-Main Event: Brennan Ward (14-5) vs. Fernando Gonzalez (26-14)
Featherweight Feature Bout: A.J. McKee (8-0) vs. TBD