HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 215, Bellator 216, and UFC on ESPN 1

by frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor

Feb 17, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Ashlee Evans-Smith (red gloves) and Andrea Lee (blue gloves) fight during their flyweight bout during UFC Fight Night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Lee won via decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator 215, Bellator 216, and UFC on ESPN 1 were all this past weekend. Let’s get right to the rundown.

Bellator 215
GOOD- Austin Vanderford submits Cody Jones
Jones slips early and Vanderford took advantage, staying all over Jones and eventually locking in an arm triangle to get the submission win. Nice win and Bellator debut for Vanderford.

GOOD- John Douma submits Mike Kimbel
Kimbel throws Douma to the mat but Douma holds on and locks in a triangle choke. Kimbel slams Douma but can’t get free of the submission and this fight is over. Good win for Douma.

GOOD/BAD- Eduardo Dantas vs. Toby Misech
This fight started off pretty good, as the first two rounds were fairly exciting. Misech was doing well on the feet but when Dantas got things to the mat, he took over. The third round was just kind of there. Dantas clearly won the first two rounds, though, and possibly the third, so he got the decision win. This was a nice rebound win for Dantas as he returned from injury.

GOOD/BAD- Ion Pascu vs. Logan Storely
Storely had some good moments, but I wasn’t feeling this fight much at all. Storely dominated with his wrestling and that was largely it. He had a few moments of some good ground-and-pound but there were also times where not much was happening. Storely was clearly the better fighter and he got the decision win. Nice win for him.

BAD/UGLY- Matt Mitrione kicks Sergei Kharitonov low and gets DQ’d
This fight starts and Mitrione almost immediately kicks Khartinov dead-on right in Lil’ Sergei. This ended things quickly and the fight is ruled a No Contest. I’ll move on as quickly as possible because this makes me nauseated. Yikes.

Bellator 216
GOOD- Valerie Loureda stops Colby Fletcher
Fletcher came to fight but this was Loureda’s fight to lose. She came out ready to bang and delivered the stoppage win. Nice win and debut for Loureda.

GOOD- Yaroslav Amosov vs. Erick Silva
Amosov was all over Silva throughout this fight. It was close in the first round, but then Amosov turned it on and was just slamming Silva every time he got up from a takedown. Amosov got the decision victory and a nice win.

BAD- Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov
The first round was fine, as Minakov took it with a knockdown. The second and third rounds sucked for the most part, though. Kongo didn’t want to engage until the final minute or so. He didn’t do a whole lot in those final minutes as well, so I’m not sure I agree with Kongo winning the decision. Maybe if I rewatched the fight I would feel differently but it was hard enough to watch the first time so I’m not doing that.

BAD- Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson
I’ve been a big Cro Cop fan for years, but this was hard to watch. Nelson tried and failed, on about 90 takedowns attempts before finally landing one in the third round. He couldn’t do anything with it, of course, but I guess he was glad to finally land one. Cro Cop did a little damage and got the decision victory. Nice win for Cro Cop, I guess.

BAD/GOOD- Michael “Venom” Page vs. Paul Daley
This fight was so disappointing. I thought they would stand and trade but they seemed content to do some wrestling and grappling. By itself, that’s not a problem but considering the men involved, I was expecting more. I certainly didn’t expect to see Daley going for all these takedowns. I suppose that speaks to what MVP was able to do on the feet, though.

I’m sure I’m being too harsh on this fight but it was more meh to me than exciting. My expectations weren’t in the right place but it ultimately was a pretty good fight. Page won the decision, which was the right call to me. I thought he did more and had better defense than Daley. Not a great night of fights for Bellator, but there was more good than bad overall.

GOOD- Andre Fili vs. Miles Jury
This was a fairly good back and forth fight. Fili seemed just a little bit quicker, though Jury did connect with some big shots that tilted the momentum his way for a while. Ultimately, though, Fili did enough to get the decision. Nice win for Fili.

GREAT- Vicente Luque stops Bryan Barberena
These guys went to town on each other. The amount of punishment each man took during this fight was crazy. We had spinning back fists, big knees, great recoveries, crazy grappling exchanges, etc., it was awesome. It may not have been the most technical affair but man, it was fun. The finish with just a few seconds left in the third round, as Luque blasted Barberena with a big right hand followed by an even bigger knee and that was it. Really fun fight. Great win for Luque.

GOOD- Kron Gracie submits Alex Caceres
This went about as expected. Gracie got the fight to the ground, locked in a submission, and got the win. Good debut and win for Gracie.

GOOD- Cortney Casey vs. Cynthia Calvillo
This was a solid fight. Casey was too tough to finish but Calvillo was the better fighter. It was close, but Calvillo did more and Casey just couldn’t keep up. Nice win for Calvillo.

GOOD- Paul Felder vs. James Vick
Felder came out attacking and landed several good shots over the course of this fight. Vick struggled to try to get ahead of Felder’s strikes but he couldn’t do it. He had some success in the second round with his grappling but then Felder came back in the third round and blasted him with some kicks and punches and elbows. Felder got the decision and the upset win. Really good win for Felder.

GOOD- Francis Ngannou stops Cain Velasquez
Ngannou caught Velasquez early with a short uppercut that ended things. The knee of Velasquez buckled, as he got caught with that shot and it was over after that. Ngannou just has too much power so if he hurts you and pounces, it’s over. I don’t know if Velasquez had a knee injury going into the fight or it’s just more of his bad luck, but wow. Taking a shot like that, where you could see his head move, and then having your knee give out is a bad sign. Especially for a guy like Velasquez who’s struggled to stay healthy.

I knew this was a big ask to have Velasquez come in and fight a guy like Ngannou when he hasn’t fought much at all in recent years but to see it play out like this still sucks. Ngannou has that freaky Bruce Lee one-inch punch power and he caught him with it. That ended the fight. Even if Cain’s knee didn’t give out, I think it was still over. Maybe Velasquez would have been able to clinch and recover but I highly doubt that. I think it would have been much more likely to see him get starched then go limp rather than recovering when Ngannou is pouring down punches on you.

Ngannou should either fight UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier or he should be in a #1 contenders fight against Stipe Miocic. Those are the only sensible options to me. I don’t know what else you would do? You can’t have him fight somebody else because he’s clearly a top contender. I suppose since it’s the UFC that anything is possible, but I think you either go title shot with him or have him fight for a title shot.


Back to the fight, this is a huge win for Ngannou. The name of Velasquez isn’t quite what it once was, given his injury history and inactivity, but beating anybody like this is bigtime. These types of highlight reel stoppages are what gets the hype train zooming along. We’ll see how this plays out but I think we see Ngannou challenging Cormier for the title here soon.

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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