Bellator 214 was this past weekend, it featured the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Let’s get right to the rundown.
GOOD- Adel Altamimi submits Brandon McMahan
McMahan got an early takedown but Altamimi grabbed his arm and locked in the submission for the win in a bit over a minute into the first round. Good win for Altamimi.
GOOD- Juan Archuleta vs. Ricky Bandejas
This was a close fight that Archuleta ended up winning by decision. They were evenly matched and showed their arsenals but Archuleta did a bit more to win more rounds and the fight. Very good showing by Bandejas and a nice win for Archuleta.
GOOD- Jake Hager submits J.W. Kiser
Hager was known as Jack Swagger in WWE and was making his MMA debut here. He showed his good wrestling as he took Kiser down and started beating him up. Hager locked in an arm triangle to get the submission win just a bit over two minutes into the first round. Good debut for Hager and a really nice win for him.
GOOD- Henry Corrales stops Aaron Pico
They traded shots early but then Corrales nailed Pico with a big hook and that was it. The whole fight took a little over a minute before Pico got knocked out. Big win for Corrales and a tough loss for Pico. He’s got the potential to be great, but he might want to switch some things up. He and his coaches should devise strategies for each fight that plays to Pico’s strengths and try to cover up any of his weaknesses.
Back to Corrales, this was a bigtime win for him. He’s had other big wins but this was so emphatic and impactful and sudden. We all expect Pico to be great someday but Corrales made sure that’s delayed a bit. Nice heart demonstrated here by Corrales as well.
GOOD- Ryan Bader stops Fedor Emelianenko
Bader came out and dropped Fedor with his first shot, jumped on him, and got the stoppage about thirty seconds into the fight. Obviously, a huge win for Bader, as he becomes the new Bellator Heavyweight Champion. This is in addition to the Bellator light heavyweight championship he also holds, so we have our first Bellator double champ.
I was wrong about this. I thought Fedor would be able to take some shots from Bader and bide his time until he could find an opening and get the win himself. Clearly, I overestimated Fedor’s current abilities and allowed myself to be swayed by my own biases and respect for Fedor. I hate saying that Fedor is done but the writing is clear. Yeah, he could probably still beat a fair amount of guys but his days at the top are over. It sucks, but it happens to everyone. Fedor was The Man for me, though. He was the guy, the legendary fighter who took the Randleman Slam and won, the one who had a period of success that seemed almost unbelievable. I don’t know if he’ll retire or keep fighting, though history says that he’ll probably keep fighting, most fighters have a hard time walking away.
As for Bader, this is a great accomplishment for him. He’s 12-1 in his last thirteen fights, including wins at heavyweight over Fedor and Matt Mitrione, as well as one at heavyweight against King Mo Lawal. He’s now a simultaneous two-division champ, and he earned it. Yeah, he was given a light heavyweight title shot in his first fight in Bellator, but his previous accomplishments at light heavyweight were more than sufficient for that to happen. Then he wins three fights at heavyweight to win the belt in that division. He wasn’t given a title shot in a division he had never competed in, he earned his shot. That makes it all the more impressive.
Bader has talked about how he’d like to defend both titles. That sounds great in theory, but in practice, it might turn out to be too much work. Or too damaging to his body. This is Bellator, though, so I think they would be a lot more likely to work with Bader on this. We’ll have to see what happens but hopefully, Bellator pushes the images of Bader with all the belts to the moon. The belt Bader had for winning the Grand Prix looks good and is a nice symbol of his accomplishment but you don’t defend it or anything so it’s not quite the same as seeing him holding both the Bellator Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Titles over his head in victory. That’s the image Bellator really needs to push out there.
It helps that we all know that Bader is legitimately a great fighter. There are no questions of “Yeah, but how would he do in the UFC?” or anything like that because we know how he would do, he’d do great. He was doing great in the UFC before heading over to Bellator. He may or may not be able to beat UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones but you can’t say that definitively. Bader lost to Jones in 2011 and he’s only lost once in the last five years.
This was a great way to end a terrific night of fights. We saw history being made and some really good finishes. I hope Bellator can maintain this momentum and we move further into this year.
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