HYDEN BLOG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Bellator 222

Frank Hyden MMATorch Columnist

Jun 14, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Chael Sonnen after his loss against Lyoto Machida (not pictured) during Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden. Machida won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator 222 was this past weekend and featured two title fights. Let’s get to the rundown.

Bellator 222

GOOD/BAD- Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell

I don’t know what Caldwell was doing in this fight. He’d get a takedown but then do nothing with it. On the other hand, Horiguchi would be trying stuff and looking like he cared. Caldwell came in as the Bellator bantamweight champion but Horiguchi won the clear decision to take the gold. This was a good win for Horiguchi but a bad loss for Caldwell. He just didn’t look motivated, which is never a good look or sign for your career.

GOOD- Juan Archuleta stops Eduardo Dantas

Archuleta got an early takedown after being walloped by Dantas a few times. They traded shots into the second round, where Archuleta landed a bigtime hook that knocked Dantas out right at the end of the round. Good win for Archuleta, who’s on an 18 fight win streak and wants gold in multiple divisions. He’s got the talent and might be able to pull that off, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

As for Dantas, I wouldn’t say he’s done but fighting has clearly taken a toll on him. He has some thinking to do with regards to how he wants to move forward.

GOOD- Patrick Mix submits Ricky Bandejas

Mix took the back quickly and locked in the choke to get the submission in just over a minute into the first round. Big win for Mix, as he also has title aspirations. Things are definitely heating up in the Bellator bantamweight division.

GOOD- Dillon Danis submits Max Humphrey

Not a whole lot to this fight, Danis was looking to get the submission, he worked for it a bit before locking it in, and that was that. You can argue that he should have submitted him sooner, but eh, he still beat him in the first round so no big deal. Fine win for Danis.

GOOD- Lyoto Machida stops Chael Sonnen

Machida landed a few nice shots in the first round but couldn’t finish Sonnen. As the second round started, Machida hit Sonnen with a knee and pounced on him to pound him out for the TKO win. Nice win for Machida. Nothing great, but a fine win.

Sonnen announced his retirement after this fight. He’s had a nice career. I think the best thing Sonnen ever did was show the importance of being able to speak and cut promos. He clearly worked at it. There’s no question that the sport aspect is more important, you have to be able to get it done in the cage, but being able to string together sentences and say more than five words in a row without tripping over your words is important as well.

Sonnen was okay in the cage. He had his wrestling, which was fine, but he never had the full grappling package that others do. What he did have, though, was the ability to cut a pro wrestling style promo and make himself seem to be a bigger deal than he actually was. He rode that to championship fights and was able to remain relevant long after his fighting skills had diminished to the point where he was no threat to any of his opponents.

I never cared much for Sonnen, but I respect the hustle. My problem with the Sonnen experience wasn’t that he would say all these outlandish and bombastic things about himself, it’s that you had all these so-called journalists and sports reporters who would breathlessly report on the things he said as if they were actually true.

I don’t blame a guy for talking himself up, you do what you have to in order to get your name out there, but I do blame the people who choose to serve as that person’s hype man. I suppose that’s neither here nor there, but my point is that Sonnen showed what you could do by practicing your speech-making skills. He literally talked himself into fights that he had no business being in. I respect the hard work he put in.

As for Machida, this win only does a little for him. It doesn’t really get him much closer to a title shot, which is what he’s wanting. It does give him a little boost, though, as it adds to the Machida highlight reel and the list of his victories over names casual fans would know.

GOOD- Neiman Gracie vs. Rory MacDonald

MacDonald looked really good in this fight, as he defended his Bellator welterweight championship. Gracie had some moments where he looked pretty good, but this was almost all MacDonald. He looked so good in this fight, much better than he did against Jon Fitch in his last fight. Maybe some of that is because Gracie was overhyped, but I think some of it is also that MacDonald learned from the Fitch fight and got better because of it.

MacDonald controlled things throughout and pummeled Gracie with his striking. Gracie’s striking looked fine, it’s just that MacDonald’s was better. Really good win for MacDonald.

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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