HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 199 and UFC 224

FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST

Ryan Bader (photo credit Troy Taormina © USA Today Sports)

Bellator 199 and UFC 224 were both this past weekend and featured some big fights. Let’s get right to the rundown.


Bellator 199

GOOD- Jordan Williams stops Brandon Hester

Williams just overwhelmed Hester with strikes and forced the ref to step in during the second round. Nice win for Williams.

GOOD- James Terry vs. Danasabe Mohammed

Terry probably could have finished Mohammed in the third round but I’m sure he was tired because he was beating the hell out of Mohammed in the second round. Terry won the clear decision and picks up a nice win.

GOOD- Janay Harding vs. Amber Leibrock

Both fighters showed toughness as they were swinging for the fences early and often. Leibrock won the decision but they both scored points with their tenacity. This was a good fight, Leibrock was just a bit better.

Aaron Pico stops Lee Morrison

Morrison was wanting to get a takedown, but Pico wasn’t having it and smashed him with strikes. He finished Morrison in just over a minute into the first round. Good win for Pico.

GOOD- Adam Piccolotti submits Carrington Banks

Piccolotti got the submission with maybe twenty seconds to go until the end of the third round. Banks started strong in the first, but then Piccolotti came roaring back and took the fight over in the second. Then in the third round, he was able to get the finish. Good win for Piccolotti.

GOOD- Cheick Kongo stops Javy Ayala

Kongo finished the fight about halfway through the first round as he flattened Ayala with a powerful right hand. Good win for Kongo as he gets the exciting finish.

BAD/UGLY- Jon Fitch vs. Paul Daley

This basically played out the way everyone was dreading. Though, to be fair, the first round had an exciting finish as Daley almost stopped Fitch. It wasn’t to be, though, and we got treated to two more rounds of Fitch laying on Daley with neither man doing much of anything. This was just a dud fight. Fitch is good on the ground and Daley is good on the feet, and neither wanted to engage his opponent in his strong area. You can’t blame them for feeling that way, but it sure is boring to watch. Fitch won the decision.

GOOD- Ryan Bader stops Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal

Bader dropped King Mo in fifteen seconds to get the win. It was crazy and completely unexpected. Wow. Bader will now advance in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix and face Matt Mitrione next. That’s such an intriguing fight. Bader is the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, but he’s going to be giving up a lot of size to Mitrione. That’s going to affect how he approaches the fight. Bader is a good wrestler, but is he going to try to wrestle a man so much larger than he is?

Bader did weigh in at 225lbs. for this fight, but Mitrione weighed in at 255lbs. for his first-round fight against Roy Nelson. So, there’s thirty pounds of difference between the two and it’ll be interesting to see how that affects the strategy employed by both men. Bader definitely has a shot at winning, but Mitrione has to be considered the favorite here. Not just because of the size difference, but because Mitrione is a good fighter in his own right. Bader is a champion, though, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. As with the other semi-final fight, I can’t wait to see this one.

UFC 224

BAD/GOOD- Lyoto Machida stops Vitor Belfort

This was the final fight of Belfort’s career and it was certainly memorable, at the least the finish was. The first round was forgettable dreck that involved so little action you would be forgiven for thinking your screen froze while watching. In the second round, it was starting the same but then Machida opened up with some kicks and caught Belfort with a front kick, ala Anderson Silva front kicking Belfort years ago, and that ended the fight. Nice highlight reel finish for Machida.

GOOD- John Lineker stops Brian Kelleher

Lineker was all over Kelleher the entire fight. He finally finished things late in the third round with a power hook that crumpled him. Kelleher showed good toughness to survive as long as he did. He even hurt Lineker in the first round, but Lineker took over. Good win for him.

GOOD- Mackenzie Dern submits Amanda Cooper

Dern dropped Cooper, took her back and locked in the submission. Fairly nice. However…

UGLY- Mackenzie Dern misses weight by seven pounds

If you missed the heavyweight target by seven pounds, that would be considered horrible. The top for that division is 265lbs. Being over by seven pounds would be bad, really bad. Mackenzie Dern doesn’t compete in that division, though. She competes in the strawweight division. The top for that division is 115lbs. It’s almost unbelievable that she came in seven pounds over that. This is like a heavyweight coming in twenty pounds over the limit. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. To miss weight so badly is inexcusable. Seven pounds when you’re supposed to be fighting at 115lbs. is a crazy amount of weight.

GOOD- Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

As I was watching this, I thought Jacare won rounds one and three, with Gastelum winning round two. One of the judges felt the same way but the other two judges gave Gastelum the third round and a split decision victory. I can’t argue that too vehemently because Jacare was really tired in the third round so I could see giving Gastelum the nod there. I still think Jacare won, but this was so close that it’s hard to argue with the decision. This was almost a coin flip, it was razor thin. Maybe the judges leaned Gastelum more because if the fight had continued he probably would have taken over? I don’t agree with that line of thinking because the fight was only scheduled for three rounds, but maybe that’s what they were considering.

Regardless, Gastelum is in a great position now. He might be the next in line to get a title shot in the UFC Middleweight Division, but you never know with the UFC.

GOOD- Amanda Nunes stops Raquel Pennington

There was a lull in the third round but this was a brutal fight. Nunes showed that she is an absolute beast as she successfully defended her UFC women’s Bantamweight championship by stopping Pennington in the fifth round. Great stuff from her and remarkable toughness from Pennington. This was such heart. However…

UGLY- Raquel Pennington’s corner refuses to let her throw in the towel

In between the fourth and fifth rounds Pennington told her corner that she was done, she wanted to be done. She had already taken a tremendous beating and was smartly saying no more. However, her corner foolishly sent her back out there. This is inexcusable. For starters, logically speaking this made no sense. She wasn’t going to win, there was almost no chance of that happening. Mentally, she was already done. Physically, she was essentially already done. How was she supposed to make a miraculous comeback?

The punishment that Pennington had taken was readily apparent. She looked like she had been through a meat grinder. Her face was messed up. Black eyes, cuts, bleeding, bruises, etc. How in the world can you look at her and in good conscience send her back out there? That’s disgusting. This is the equivalent of a NBA coach sending their player back onto the court with a broken leg when they’re down 20 points with five minutes left in the game. Are you kidding me?

Even if Pennington wanted to go back out there, her corner should have taken one look at her and said hell no. Her eyes, her nose, her entire face looked broken. And you’re going to make her go back out there? Even after she told you that she didn’t want to go back? Unbelievable. To be blunt, Pennington needs to throw these guys out on their asses. They obviously don’t care about her so why should she care about them?
This is so much worse than when a corner refuses to throw in the towel because the fighter wants to keep fighting because she wanted to throw in the towel but these guys wouldn’t let her. I wish Pennington had fired those guys on the spot and told the referee she was done.

Some have defended her corner sending her back out there, saying they know her and they just wanted her to push through adversity and all that. I get that, but she wasn’t going to win. It goes back to my original point, she wasn’t going to win. Save me the nonsense about “A fight is never over until time expires” and all that junk. Unless Nunes slipped on a damn banana peel in the cage and knocked herself out, she was winning. Pennington had mentally already lost and was physically about as close as you can get to losing.

It was over, it was done. Yes, theoretically there was perhaps a 0.001% chance of Pennington making the miracle comeback and getting the win. Is that worth taking more punishment? Absolutely not. This is like late ref stoppages. The vast majority of the time, when a ref “lets a fighter work through it” when they’re getting their ass kicked, all that happens is they take additional punishment and lose anyway. It’s not even close to being worth it.
All in all, this was a good card. I hated the Dern weight issue and the Pennington corner issue, but there were some really good fights on this card, and the Bellator 199 card as well. This was a good weekend for MMA fans.

Comments and suggestions can be emailed to me at hydenfrank@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter at @hydenfrank


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