Over the course of Bellator’s rise, their interest in UK fighters has ebbed and flowed. There were marquee signings like Paul Daley, Terry Etim, Paul Sass and others, but it mostly waned and faded away to almost nothing. Of late, though, there has been a concerted effort to really use a marketing push for the fighters from across the Atlantic and this has ultimately led to the “British Invasion”. This is the February 27th fight card that will see several marquee English fighters head over to Connecticut to face off against tough opposition.

The most exciting part of all of this is that the British contingent can be relied upon for excitement. Although heavyweight James Thompson will no longer feature, there are still four visitors who’ll be looking to make an impact and leave with some new scalps. 

Liam McGeary

Andover-born Liam McGeary will top the bill as he takes on Emanuel ‘Hardcore Kid’ Newton for the Bellator light-heavyweight title. It’s criminal that there isn’t more talk about McGeary given how good a shot he has at becoming the first UK fighter to get his hands on a major world title. You’ve got Irishman Conor McGregor coming in as 6/5 with betfair for his fight with Jose Aldo in the coming months but, despite cutting his teeth on UK-based Cage Warriors, he is a Dubliner and proud so there’s no way the Brits can claim that one, as much as they are behind him. Dan Hardy had a shot, and Linton Vassell came close, but no one has done it yet.

Not only has McGeary punched his ticket to the title shot by winning the Bellator light-heavyweight tournament, but he’s done it in fashion by finishing every one of his opponents inside the first round. The final saw him grab a Sub of the Year contender by submitting Kelly Anundson with an inverted triangle. But prior to that he had back-to-back knockouts over Egidijus Valavicius and Mike Mucitelli. In his 9-0 pro career he’s never had an opponent make it past five minutes with him, and that’s why he deserves the eyeballs on his title challenge.

Newton is a tough and experienced champion at 25-7-1. He’s also not averse to long, drawn out battles which could work to his favour if he can take McGeary into the deeper waters. However, for every minute he’s in there he has to stay out of the way of the Englishman’s power and unorthodox submission game that is allowed by his 6’6″ frame. You know McGeary can finish fights no matter what the position and that’s why the main event is so compelling.

Paul Daley

This man’s knockout power needs no introduction. Of Paul Daley‘s 35 career victories, 26 have come by way of knockout. That’s an impressive statistic. Then when you throw in his recent form in kickboxing where he was finishing renowned strikers, you know that there’s never been a much worse time to face him. Champion Douglas Lima was meant to fight Daley but an injury forced him out. “Nervous, scared? I understand, preparing to fight me, I would be,” said the Nottingham fighter after being told he would no longer be fighting for the gold. But if he wants to stay on the right track then he has to come out on top against new opponent Andre Santos (37-9).

Brazilian Santos has 22 submission victories, although admittedly he hasn’t faced opposition of Daley’s calibre. His threat will be the ground game, but he will have to get Daley there first to make an impression. Coming from a BJJ background and not a wrestling one, he might struggle to do that before feeling the almighty left hook. A Daley win would set up another shot at the title, and the fight that people really want to see.

Michael Page

“MVP” has been turning heads since his early days at UCMMA. The flashy kickboxer has a wide array of strikes in his arsenal and he isn’t afraid to throw them. Some have questioned the opposition he’s faced in his currently unbeaten career but he got past his toughest test to date in Nah-Shon Burrell in October and went the distance for the first time. He had finished his first six opponents in round one, and now meets fellow 7-0 fighters Curtis Millender.

Millender has five decision wins so he’s shown he can grind it out when the going gets tough. He has the potential to ask questions of the London Shootfighter. Whether he can enforce his will on the night remains to be seen, but it should make for an interesting battle.

Linton Vassell

Vassell had his shot at the title against Emanuel Newton last time out and fought well, almost finishing the champ with some submissions. However, when dragged into the championship rounds he ran out of steam and was submitted in round five. Even with the defeat he went up in many people’s estimations, and this time faces another extremely tough adversary. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou is a KO artist who has defeated big names in Pride FC and the UFC. His mixed 16-12 record reflects the opposition he’s faced but he is dangerous with a single shot.

Vassell’s grappling will have to be on point here if he wants to battle back into title contention, but Sokoudjou has back-to-back finishes with Bellator and will push him all the way.