Bellator’s final event of 2022 on US soil saw a pair of champions retain their titles, while the final of the promotion’s bantamweight Grand Prix was officially set.
Stots has the last word after heated battle
In the main event, interim bantamweight champion Raufeon Stots edged a split-decision victory over rival Danny Sabatello to retain his title and advance to the final of the bantamweight Grand Prix.
The build-up to their eagerly-anticipated bout had been dominated by trash talk between the pair, and the two duelling bantamweights quickly got to work as the bout got underway, with wrestling the dominant skillset on display early on as Sabatello looked to assert himself on the mat. Stots did well, however, and worked his way back to his feet before connecting with strikes against the fence.
That pattern continued throughout the fight, with Sabatello relentlessly chasing takedowns, while Stots looked to defend and counter with strikes. The interim champion also threatened with a kneebar attempt in the second round.
The action continued into the championship rounds and, eventually, reached the final bell with the identity of the winner far from certain. And when the scorecards were announced, the bad blood between the pair continued.
Two of the judges scored the bout 48-47 for Stots, with the third scoring all five rounds to Sabatello for a 50-45 scoreline. Stots celebrated, while Sabatello stormed out of the cage. This rivalry looks far from over.
Carmouche leaves no doubt in rematch
Women’s flyweight champion Liz Carmouche made absolutely sure there was no controversy about her victory as she finished former champion Juliana Velasquez in decisive fashion in their championship rematch.
Carmouche scored a TKO victory over Velasquez in their first meeting as she captured her first major MMA title. But Velasquez’s immediate protestation of the stoppage cast a shadow over Carmouche’s title victory.
But, in the rematch, “Girlrilla” left no doubt as she claimed another finish, this time via submission, to cement her status as Bellator’s women’s 125-pound champion.
After a first round full of clinch work and not too much crowd-pleasing action, things opened up a little in Round 2, when Velasquez came out looking to strike, but Carmouche smartly took the Brazilian to the mat with a well-timed takedown.
The former champion briefly worked her way back to her feet, but was quickly brought to ground again, by Carmouche, who moved into mount before switching to an armbar and forcing the tap in the final minute of the round.
Patchy stays in the Grand Prix mix with dominant win
Bantamweight contender Patchy Mix surged into the final of the bantamweight Grand Prix with a very impressive finish of Russian contender Magomed Magomedov.
Mix started out striking as he used his reach advantage to good effect to keep Magomedov on the back foot. Eventually the Russian shot in for a takedown, but Mix was ready for it and came close to snatching a guillotine choke. Mix’s sharpness, combined with his dominance on the feet, completely nullified Magomedov’s threat.
The second round saw more of the same, with Mix comfortably handling the stand-up exchanges, while a repeat takedown attempt from Magomedov was met by a repeat guillotine choke attempt from Mix. But, unlike in the first round, Mix didn’t let go.
The American locked up the hold and applied the squeeze as Magomedov realized he was in deep trouble. The Russian didn’t tap, however, and Mix continued to tighten his grip until he had choked his man unconscious.
It was a devastating finish to a dominant performance from Mix, who will take on Stots in the $1 million bantamweight Grand Prix final.
Bellator 289: Official Results
- Raufeon Stots def. Danny Sabatello via split decision (45-50, 48-47, 48-47) – for interim bantamweight title (bantamweight Grand Prix semi-final)
- Liz Carmouche def. Juliana Velasquez via submission (armbar) – Round 2, 4:24 – for women’s flyweight title
- Patchy Mix def. Magomed Magomedov via technical submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:39 – bantamweight Grand Prix semi-final
- Dalton Rosta def. Anthony Adams via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ilara Joanne def. Denise Kielholtz via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
- Jaleel Willis def. Kyle Crutchmer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Cris Lencioni def. Cody Law via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
- Christian Echols def. Pat Downey via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 2:27
- Kai Kamaka def. Kevin Boehm via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:23
- Michael Lombardo def. Mark Lemminger via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 4:23
- Cass Bell def. Jared Scoggins via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)