Bellator returns to Madison Square Garden on Friday night with a card full of familiar faces to UFC fans but also some top-notch fighters that casual viewers may not know but will certainly want to check out.
(Edited from preview by Mike Hiscoe, read full preview here)
Headlining the show is a semi-final bout in Bellator’s welterweight grand prix tournament. Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald takes on Neiman Gracie and the title will be on the line.
MacDonald is coming off of a controversial majority draw against Jon Fitch only seven weeks ago. One of the ringside judges and our own Cole Henry scored the fight in Fitch’s favor but the rules of the tournament dictated that in the case of a draw, the champion would move on.
The undefeated Gracie may be the dark horse of this tournament. In nine professional fights, Gracie has eight submission wins including a fourth-round rear-naked choke of Ed Ruth last December.
Underneath the main event is a fight between known commodities in what was originally billed as the evening’s headliner. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida takes on Chael Sonnen in a fight that has somehow eluded us all of these years.
REPORT AND RESULTS:
June 14, 2019
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
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Preliminary Card Results:
Phil Hawes defeated Michael Wilcox via TKO
Marcus Surin defeated Nekruz Mirkhojaev via Decision
Robson Gracie Jr. defeated Oscar Vera via Submission
Mike Kimbrel defeated Sebastian Ruiz via Decision
Haim Gozali defeated Gustavo Wurtlitzer via Submission
Lindsey VanZandt defeated Rena Kubota
Valarie Loureda defeated Larkyn Dasch via Decision
Adam Borics defeated Aaron Pico via KO
Taylor Turner defeated Heather Hardy via TKO
John Beneduce defeated Kenny Rivera via Decision
Kastriot Xhema defeated Whitney Francois via TKO
Brandon Polcare defeated Brandon Medina via Submission
Main Card Results:
(1) Batamweight Title Fight: Darrion Caldwell (c) vs Kyoji Horiguchi
Prediction: Horiguchi defeats Caldwell via Round 3 Submission
ROUND 1: Here we go! Caldwell misses a head kick. Head kick lands for Caldwell. Caldwell shoots and takes the back. Nice elbow from Caldwell. Caldwell gets Horiguchi off the cage, but gets his back against it again. Elbows for Caldwell. Another hard elbow for Caldwell. Stale mate on the floor. Short shots land for Horiguchi. Caldwell keeps eating short shots. Caldwell and Horiguchi forced to stand after Caldwell keeps putting his fingers in Horiguchi’s glove. They stand, but don’t do anything. End Round 1. Caldwell 10-9
ROUND 2: Fakes and pumps from both. Another blocked head kick for Caldwell. Horiguchi lands some jabs. Caldwell shoots and lands a takedown. Caldwell stalling. Horiguchi lands strikes and Caldwell just holds on. Solid punches for Horiguchi. They stand due to Caldwell stalling. End Round 2. 19-19
ROUND 3: Horiguchi stuffs a takedown. Horiguchi setting up a guillotine. Nice shots for Horiguchi. Horiguchi gets into full guard. Horiguchi gets into half guard. Shots for Horiguchi. Horiguchi for some reason goes back into full guard. Caldwell kicks Horiguchi off. Caldwell sprawls and gets smacked. Horiguchi gets back into full guard. Horiguchi in half guard. Horiguchi takes the back and hammers Caldwell. Caldwell stands. Caldwell shoots again, and finally gets into half guard. Horiguchi against the cage again. Horiguchi stands. Horiguchi lands a good overhand. End Round 3. 29-28 Horiguchi
ROUND 4: Caldwell looks gassed. Caldwell throws a kick and falls. Caldwell lands on top, but Horiguchi puts in a guillotine. Caldwell escapes, and puts Horiguchi against the cage again. Horiguchi with more short shots. Caldwell stalling again. Horiguchi lands more shots. Horiguchi with nice shots. They are forced to stand. Good right for Horiguchi. Both miss kicks. Caldwell wiffs a takedown. Horiguchi with a nice combo. Cladwell clinches. Horiguchi takes controls and lands dsome knees. Horiguchi lands a takedown to end the round. 39-37 Horiguchi
ROUND 5: Nice combo for Horiguchi. Nice left for Horiguchi, and they go back to the same ground position. Horiguchi landing short punches again. Caldwell continues to stall. Horiguchi with some nice body shots. Horiguchi moving for a guillotine. Horiguchi setting up the guillotine. Nice elbow for Horiguchi. Horiguchi stands. Caldwell shoots again and is eating some heavy punches and elbows. And back to stale mate. End round 5. 49-46 Horiguchi
Result: Judges Scorecards- (48-47, 49-46 x2) for winner by Unanimous Decision and NEW Bellator Batamweight Champion, Kyoji Horiguchi
Analysis: I have never seen a fight, at least a Championship fight in which the Champion didn’t care to fight. Caldwell landed takedowns, but did nothing. He just sat there. Caldwell didn’t deserve to win. He had control, but didn’t use it. He was on top, but Horiguchi dominated. Horiguchi looked terrific, and proved he is a terrific fighter, becoming one of the only fighters in the world to hold a Championship in two different companies. Horiguchi dominated, and showed he’ll be tough to beat in Japan or the US.
(2) Eduardo Dantas vs Juan Archuleta (Featherweight)
Prediction: Archuleta defeats Dantas via Decision
ROUND 1: Here we go! Nice uppercut for Dantas. Archuleta swing and misses. Archuleta kicks Dantas low. Fight stops briefly but is resumed. HUGE spinning back fist for Dantas. Archuleta shoots and lands a takedown, but Dantas stands quickly. Archuleta with knees to the butt. Dantas turns. Nice knee for Dantas after a clinch break. Good body kick for Archuleta. Dantas with a good shot to end the round. 10-9 Archuleta
ROUND 2: Nice shot for Archuleta. Nice right for Dantas. Archuleta lands a solid combo. Archuleta shoots and is stuffed. Clinch against the cage. Dantas flips. Good knee for Dantas. They break. Good right for Dantas. Good shot for Archuleta stuns Dantas. Dantas looks to wobble, but lands a nice shot that backs up Archuleta. Nice knee for Dantas. Nice uppercut for Archuleta. Dantas with a head kick to end the round, but Archuleta with a HUGE hook, and Dantas goes out cold before the bell sounds!
Result: Archuleta defeats Dantas via KO in Round 2 (4:59)
Analysis: I don’t know what happened with Dantas, but he has fallen quite a bit. That being said, why Juan Archuleta has been underestimated for all this time, while riding a now 18 fight win streak is baffling. Archuleta wants the Batamweight title, but also has wanted in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, so he’ll get his pick, but it will be interesting. As for Dantas, the end seems near. Dantas was able to leave on his own feet which is great. Archuleta seems to want both, but he’ll have to pick. He called for 3 title fights for some reason, but time will tell with a massive Featherweight tournament kicking off.
(3) Ricky Bandejas vs Patrick Mix (Batamweight)
Prediction: Bandejas defeats Mix by Decision.
ROUND 1: Here we go! Mix grapples and takes the back quickly. Mix going for a choke. Mix gets it in. Bandejas goes down and taps. That’s it!
Result: Mix defeats Bandejas via Rear-Naked Choke in Round 1 (1:06)
Analysis: So maybe Juan Archuleta isn’t the clear #1 contender we thought. Mix handled a top contender and finished him quickly, opposite of Archuleta’s decision. Mix calls for a James Gallagher fight, which makes sense, but a doubtful fight, because of Bellator’s very protective nature towards Gallagher. Mix is 1, maybe 2 fights from the title, and already jumps to the top of the division after 1 minute.
(4) Dillon Danis vs Max Humphrey (Catchweight: 175 lbs)
Prediction: Danis defeats Humphrey via Submission in Round 1
ROUND 1: Danis shoots and misses. Danis lands a takedown. Danis with a hammer fist. Punches for Danis. Hard and heavy punches. Humphrey with no defense. Danis going for a rear-naked choke. Danis gets in a choke but loses it. Danis gets to the back again, Humphrey almost stands. Danis now going for an armbar. Hammer fists for Danis. Danis gets in the armbar and that’s it.
Result: Danis defeats Humphrey via Armbar in Round 1 (4:28)
Analysis: I don’t know what anyone was expecting. Danis was given a scrub, and finished him as expected. He seemed to struggle a bit with a guy who had no experience on the ground, and he’ll run his mouth nonstop until his next fight, and hopefully he is given a real fighter at some point. His standup is unknown, but we won’t know until he gets a legit challenge.
(5) Co-Main Event: Chael Sonnen vs Lyota Machida (Light Heavyweight)
Prediction: Machida defeats Sonnen via TKO in Round 1
ROUND 1: Here we go! Chael shoots. Chael clinchs. Nice knee for Sonnen. Nice combos for both. Chael lands a takedown, and takes the back. Chael clinches against the cage. They break. Sonnen eats a body shot. Chael eats a flying knee and goes down. Machida on top. Machida pounding. Chael gets him into full guard. Machida landing hard shots. Pounding, but Chael stands. End Round 1. Machida 10-9
ROUND 2: Machida lands another knee. and Chael goes back down. Machida with ground and pound and the ref steps in.
Result: Machida defeats Sonnen via TKO in Round 2 (0:22)
Analysis: Well that was disappointing for Sonnen fans. Chael was very predictable, and the 2 knees he ate were from easy reads on Machida’s part. Machida is on the way down, but still is solid. Chael has been on the downfall for a while, and this was a mismatch, and Machida was the victor as he should have been. I don’t know how much Chael has left, but hopefully he can get at least 1 more win. As for Machida, he probably draws a Liam McGreary or Phil Davis.
(6) Main Event: Welterweight Title Fight: Rory MacDonald (c) vs Neiman Gracie
Prediction: Gracie defeats MacDonald via Decision.
ROUND 1: Here we go! MacDonald with some jabs. MacDonald with body jabs. Nice head kick for Rory. Gracie misses some hooks, shoots, and is shaken off. Jabs from Gracie. Gracie clinches, and MacDonald throws him off. Both land stiff jabs at the same time. MacDonald slips on a kick, and Gracie clinches, but is thrown off again. Nice right from MacDonald followed by a Gracie left. Gracie kick caught, and MacDonald follows him back and just misses a huge elbow. Leg kicks from both. Stand still for the last 30 seconds, and end of round 1. 10-9 MacDonald
ROUND 2: MacDonald gets kicked low again. Gracie shoots and lands a takedown. Gracie goes for a kneebar. Gracie rolls and Rory is flinching. Rory escapes, and stands. Gracie clinches. Gracie shooting. Gracie is trying to drag MacDonald down but can’t get him. MacDonald lands on top of Gracie. MacDonald in full guard. Elbows from MacDonald. Gracie trying for a rubber guard. Nice right from Rory. Stale mate on the ground. Rory with another elbow. Huge right from MacDonald. MacDonald stands, and slams back down. Gracie holds to end the round. 20-18 MacDonald
ROUND 3: Huge right for MacDonald. Good combos from both. Big hooks from MacDonald. Good body kick hurts Gracie. Gracie shoots, and is stuffed. MacDonald grabs the neck and it looks deep but he lets go. MacDonald slams Gracie down. MacDonald in side control. MacDonald with stiff shots. Gracie in rubber guard. Body elbows from MacDonald. Gracie sweeps, and grabs the arm, and sync’s in a deep arm bar, but Rory gets out quickly. Rory back into full guard. End Round 3. 30-27 MacDonald
ROUND 4: Gracie lands some leg kicks. Nice straight from MacDonald. Jabs from both. Gracie shoots, and lands, but MacDonald lands on top, but falls back off. Gracie takes the back. Gracie high on the back. Gracie pulls MacDonald down. Body triangle for Gracie, but MacDonald gets into full guard control again. Gracie eating shots. MacDonald opens up and lands hard shots. Rory gets up, and gets right back on top of Gracie. End Round 4. 40-36 MacDonald
ROUND 5: Both landing jabs. Gracie shoots and is stuffed. Clinch on the cage. Gracie scores a takedown. Gracie in half guard. Gracie into full mount. Gracie just laying, possibly setting up an arm triangle. Both staying motionless. MacDonald uses a lot of force to try and push off Gracie, but with no success. MacDonald scrambles to get Gracie into half guard. Time running out for Gracie. Gracie in full guard now. They hold. Rory locks a full guard, and most likely the end. Gracie throws in a heel hook, but Rory escapes and that’s it. 49-46 MacDonald
Result: Judges Scorecards- (49-46, 48-47 x2) for the winner by Unanimous Decision and still Bellator Welterweight Champion, Rory MacDonald.
Analysis: I had Gracie, but he sure seemed over-hyped after watching this performance, but Rory also looked incredible. After being handled pretty well by Fitch, his ground game didn’t look great, but he dominated on the ground, whether it be on top or on the bottom. Gracie only had 2 or 3 moments where he looked like he may win, but MacDonald looked terrific.
Up next, Mousasi vs Lovato Jr. at Bellator 223, and I’ll see all of you then. Let us know your thoughts on twitter, and let me know @CoachCMmma
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