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.
(Preview by Michael Hiscoe, 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.
MacDonald sounded conflicted about his fighting future in the aftermath of the Fitch fight saying, “It takes a certain spirit to come in here and put a man through pain, and I don’t know if I have that same drive to hurt people anymore.” Nonetheless, MacDonald is taking the fight against Gracie with a quick turnaround and his mental state may turn out to be the story of the fight.
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. MacDonald makes for a big step up in competition for Gracie, who has yet to fight anyone who has even had a sniff at the top ten in his short career.
WHO WINS THE FIGHT?
The entire Bellator 222 card streams live on DAZN with prelims beginning at 6:30 PM ET and the Main Card at 10 PM ET.
Full Bellator 222 Fight Card
Welterweight Rory MacDonald (c) vs. Neiman Gracie
Light Heavyweight Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen
Bantamweight Darrion Caldwell (c) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Catchweight (175 lbs.) Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey
Bantamweight Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta
Bantamweight Ricky Bandejas vs. Patrick Mix
Featherweight Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics
Flyweight Brandon Polcare vs. Brandon Medina
Bantamweight Mike Kimbel vs. Sebastian Ruiz
Women’s Flyweight Heather Hardy vs. Taylor Turner
Welterweight Haim Gozali vs. Gustavo Wurlitzer
Middleweight Phil Hawes vs. Michael Wilcox
Catchweight (165 lbs.) Kastriot Xhema vs. Whitney Francois
Featherweight John Beneduce vs. Kenny Rivera
Welterweight Robson Gracie vs. Oscar Vera
Catchweight (112 lbs.) Rena Kubota vs. Lindsey VanZandt
Women’s Flyweight Valerie Loureda vs. Larkyn Dasch
More from MMATorch:
- ROUNDTABLE: Who wins between Rory Macdonald and Neiman Gracie?
- ROUNDTABLE: Who wins between Lyoto Machida and Chael Sonnen?
- BELLATOR 222 PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS 6/14: Grocke’s updated odds and predictions for every fight
- How to Halt a Prospect with Max Humphrey and Adam Borics
- NEW PODCAST: MMA Fight Picks w/ Aaron Weinbaum picking Bellator 222