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Throwback Thursday: Bellator and Pride, Oh my my…

Vinny Craig



This Week in MMA History

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article written about the events and news that have happened in the world of MMA during this week. The twist, we’ll be going back in time to show you the events that already happened and are forever stitched into our minds. This week we take a look at May 18 to May 24.

UFC 84: Ill Will

Just a month after one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history, UFC 84 was the event of the night. It was headlined by a Lightweight title match between champion BJ Penn and Sean Sherk. It was a solid card from top to bottom that had 6 preliminary fights and 5 main card bouts. The night started with the debut of a familiar name as former Interim-Heavyweight champion Shane Carwin got his ninth straight first round finish. We saw the debut of another popular fighter as ‘The Stun Gun’ Dong Hyun Kim got a knockout win over Jason Tan. Two of the remaining four fights ended in submission when Yoshiyuki Yoshida beat John Koppenhaver (aka War Machine) by Anaconda Choke and Rousimar Palhares (aka leg collector) beat Ivan Salaverry by armbar.

The main card saw a submission due to punches to start off as Thiago Silva beat Antonio Mendes. In another Light Heavyweight fight, Goran Reljic got a TKO win over Wilson Gouveia. Lyoto Machida continued his career long collection of legends he’s faced as the UFC put him against former Light Heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. The fight would be all Machida as the new breed of MMA fighter showed in this old school vs. new school matchup. In the co-main event, former Pride Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva got his first win since returning to the UFC. It took Silva only 36 seconds to get the knockout win. The main event was a good one as three rounds of good fighting ended with a TKO from a flying knee and the punches that followed as BJ Penn defended his Lightweight strap.

UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida

Right in the middle of the game of hot potato we called the Light Heavyweight belt, UFC 98 would determine the next man to keep or take the title. Champion Rashad Evans looked to defend his title against undefeated rising star Lyoto Machida. Seven different former or future title challengers fought on this card. The 11 fight card started when George Roop got the nod in a split decision over Dave Kaplan. The next five fights ended in the first round with three being by submission. Former TUF runner-up Phillipe Nover lost by TKO against Kyle Bradley. The Submission of the Night came from Brock Larson when he got an Arm-Triangle choke over Mike Pyle over half way through the first round.

The main card started with a pair of Lightweight title contenders as future Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar beat former Lightweight champion Sean Sherk by decision. The next fight was the first of three straight wins from Chael Sonnen. Those three wins would earn him a title shot with former champion Anderson Silva. He would beat Dan Miller by decision in this fight with a dominant performance. The co-main event was just the third fight since returning from The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback for former champion Matt Serra. Another former champion Matt Hughes would get the hard fought win in a decision. In the main event, the Light Heavyweight belt changed hands for the fourth time in two years. It was a sight to behold as Machida gave Evans the first loss of his career when knocked him out cold in the second round.

UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Rockhold

In the last event exclusively on FX, we saw the debut of two former Strikeforce Middleweight champions. One was the headliner as the last Strikeforce Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold got his chance in the UFC against one of the best in Vitor Belfort. The other was Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza as he fought Chris Camozzi in the co-main event. The 13 fight card was spread across three platforms with the main card on FX. The night started on Facebook with Lightweight Lucas Martins getting the third round knockout win over Jeremy Larsen. Also on the prelims a pair of Lightweights got a pair of submission wins. Journeyman Gleison Tibau got a Guillotine win and Francisco Trinaldo with an Arm-Triangle. Starting off the main card was a Middleweight bout where Rafael Natal got the decision win over Joa Zeferino. In the next fight, now Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos picked up his fourth straight win in a decision win. The co-main event didn’t last long as Camozzi was submitted with an Arm-Triangle in the first round. In the main event, a re-invigorated Belfort got his second head kick knockout victory. Vitor set it up perfectly and won with a spinning heel hook in the first round.

UFC 173

In the annual Memorial Day weekend event, the UFC Bantamweight champion was put on the line. The champion Renan Barao came in the fight with a 33 fight unbeaten streak and the challenger TJ Dillishaw had won 5 of his last 6. To start off the televised prelims, Al Iaquinta was dominating the first two rounds against Mitch Clarke. Clarke would get an unexpected D’Arce choke in the third round to tap out Iaquinta. TUF 17 winner Chris Holdsworth made his return where he got the decision win over Chico Camus. Tony Ferguson got the knockout over Katsunori Kikuno in the first round.

James Krause started off the main card with a spectacular first round. The fight would end when his opponent Jamie Varner couldn’t continue due to an ankle injury. Bantamweight contender Takeya Mizugaki had a great performance over Francisco Rivera in a unanimous decision win. Just two months after losing a title fight for the vacant Welterweight championship, Robbie Lawler agreed to fight Jake Ellenberger. It would prove a good move as Lawler got back to the winning column with a third round TKO win.

In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier fought for the second time at Light Heavyweight. His first was just 3 months prior against promotional newcomer Patrick Cummins. He was placed against former Pride two-division champion Dan Henderson. Both are former Olympic wrestlers, but DC would get the better of Henderson. He would dominate Henderson from start to finish, throwing him around quite often. The fight ended with a third round Rear-Naked choke from Cormier. The main event was expected to be a give-me fight for Renan Barao to get to former champion Dominick Cruz. The fight did not go that way as Dillishaw set the tone early with a first round knockdown with an overhand right. The next four rounds would be Dillishaw out striking the man no one ever thought would lose this fight. Dillishaw finally broke Barao in the fifth and final round when he got him on the ground and threw punches in bunches where the fight was called and Dillishaw was crowned the new champion.

WEC 10: Bragging Rights

In the tenth event by the World Extreme Cagefighting organization, we saw 10 of 12 fights end in a finish. The card had two title fights as the Welterweight and Lightweight belts would be decided.  5 of the 11 ended in submission (2 of which came from submission due to punches) with the remaining 5 coming via KO/TKO. Future UFC fighter Lavar Johnson got a first round TKO win. One of two decisions of the night came when Ryan Schultz beat Gil Castillo by majority decision. The Lightweight title fight ended with only 6 seconds to spare in the 3rd round when Gilbert Melendez beat Olaf Alfonso by TKO.  For the Welterweight title, champion Shonie Carter lost to Karo Parisyan.

WEC 12: Judgement Day

In yet another two title fight event, we saw 10 of 12 fights end in a finish. The Middleweight title would be decided as well as a title defense try for Heavyweight champion James Irvin. The night started with a unanimous decision win by Jay Hieron. The next five all came from submission; the first two by Triangle and the next three by Rear-Naked Choke.  Lavar Johnson once again got a first round finish with a TKO. The Middleweight title was won by Joe Riggs as he submitted Rob Kimmons with punches. In the Heavyweight title fight, champion James Irvin defended his belt with a knockout over Doug Marshall.

Strikeforce Challengers: Lindland vs. Casey

The 8th Challengers event put on by Strikeforce was headlined by a Middleweight fight between Matt Lindland and Kevin Casey. The prelim card had only one finish as Patrick Whittington submitted Jason Lambert with a Triangle Choke in the first round. Starting off the main card was future Strikeforce champion Pat Healy as he got the decision win against Bryan Tavers. Future Middleweight champion Tarec Saffiedine got a KO win over Nate Moore. In the co-main event, future Middleweight title challenger Tyron Woodley narrowly beat Nathan Coy by split-decision. In the main event, it took Lindland almost an entire three rounds to get the TKO win over Casey. He had only 19 seconds to spare in the fight when it was ended.

Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier

In the final of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, underdog Daniel Cormier made it this far and was matched with former UFC champion Josh Barnett. The co-main event was a Lightweight championship fight between champion Gilbert Melendez and number-one contender Josh Thomson. The prelims produced five straight decisions, with the last three by split decision. Gian Vilante, Bobby Green and Isaac Vallie-Flagg all picked up wins. The main card starter finally gave us a finish as Chris Spang got a TKO win. Future Light Heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante beat Mike Kyle by Guillotine. Feijao was popped for PED’s in the post-fight test and the fight was ruled a No-Contest. In the Lightweight title fight, Melendez barely came away with his belt as he beat Thomson by controversial split-decision. In the main event, Cormier shocked everyone with a unanimous decision victory to win the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Pride: Bushido 3

In the third event under the Bushido mark, Pride saw some great fights. A 12 fight card produced half finishes and half decisions. The first fight of the night was a KO by Bertrand Ammoussou. The next two fights ended by Rear-Naked Choke with Katsuhisa Fuiji and Alexander Emilianenko being the victors. Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Flipovic and Ricardo Almeida each picked up decision wins. The next fight took only 6 seconds to decide a winner as Takanori Gomi beat Ralph Gracie by TKO. In the main event, Ryan Gracie beat Ikuhisa Minowa by split decision.

Pride: Bushido 7

In the mainland of Tokyo, Bushido 7 saw seven stoppage wins. The first two by way of KO as Charles Bennett and Jens Pulver each earned their win. In the next fight, another American got a finish as Yves Edwards submitted Dokonjonosuke Mishima by Armbar.  Aaron Riley got a headkick KO of Omigawa before two consecutive decision wins. Ikuhisa Minowa lost by second round TKO and in the main event Takanori Gomi continued his excellence with another first round knockout.

Bellator 19

In Texas, where everything is bigger and better, Bellator put on Bellator 19. Starting off the prelim card was a Guillotine win for Doug Frey. In the Featherweight division, Chas Skelly beat Daniel Pineda by kneebar in the second round. In a bout to determine a spot on the Season 3 Heavyweight tournament, Scott Barnett beat Ty Lee by TKO. The main card had two Welterweight semi-final fights on it. The first was a kimura win for Dan Hornbuckle and a decision win for Ben Askren. Future UFC title challenger Joe Soto won the main event against Diego Saraiva by doctor stoppage.

Bellator 45

To end Season 4 for Bellator, two tournament finals took place. The Featherweight and Light Heavyweight finals would be determined as well as a Middleweight bout to boot. On the prelims, Rene Nazare got a Rear-Naked Choke and future UFC fighter Shawn Jordan got another TKO win. To start the main card, Sam Alvey got a decision win over Karl Ammoussou. In the Featherweight final, future champion Patricio Freire won the final over Daniel Straus by decision. In the main event, Christian M’ Pumbu won by third round TKO to win the tournament.

Bellator 69

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, Bellator 69 happened. The main card started with Heavyweight Mark Holata getting Abe Wagner to verbally tap with a straight ankle lock in the first round. In a Women’s 125 pound fight, Megumi Fuiji beat future WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar by decision. In a Welterweight semifinal fight, David Rickels punched his ticket in for the finals with a split decision win over Karl Ammoussou. In the main event, Maiquel Falcao beat Andreas Spang to win the Season’s Middleweight tournament.

Future: UFC 187: Johnson vs.  Cormier, ONE Championship 27: Warriors Quest

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Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198



Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.

Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).

Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.

In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.

The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.

Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.

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Aaron Chalmers vs. Ash Griffiths Added to Bellator 200



Geordie Shore Aaron

A reality television star finally gets his shot and it couldn’t be on much bigger of a stage. Scott Coker and the Bellator promotion announced almost two weeks ago, the organizations milestone event, Bellator 200, would take place in London, England. In the weeks and days following the initial news, fights such as Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop, and Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell became post-humorous additions. Today, promotion officials announced Aaron Chalmers makes a highly anticipated return when he takes on Ash Griffiths, in his promotional debut at the milestone event.

Along with the initial announcement of the event, Bellator officials also announced the first two fights booked to Bellator 200. The first of which matches Gegard Mousasi against Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho. Mousasi, formerly of the UFC, made a high-profile exit from his former employers to sign with Scott Coker (former Strikeforce CEO) and Bellator. His opponent, Rafael Carvalho, is the 3x defending Bellator Middleweight champion. Carvalho defeated fighters such as, Melvin Manhoef (2x), Brandon Halsey, and Alessio Sakara during his reign claiming and defending the title. The second match up includes British star, Michael ‘Venom’ Paige, as he makes his return to the Bellator cage against David Rickels.

With the addition of Aaron Chalmers to Bellator 200, two British stars now grace the card. Two British stars in two different avenues. Michael ‘Venom’ Paige is one of the biggest fighting stars in the country. Of course, Heavyweight Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua tops the list of famous fighters but Paige is on similar career trajectory, as his star only continues to grow. For Aaron Chalmers, his fighting talent did not give rise to the nature of his celebrity.

Before his professional career even began, Aaron Chalmers was cast to and appeared on the 8th season of the British reality television show, Geordie Shore. In case of ignorance to the English reality television scene, Geordie Shore is a reality television series based on the American reality series, Jersey Shore. The plot of which is essentially; Fit, and outgoing young adults move into a home in the city of Newcastle together for the Summer. As bland as that may seem, Aaron Chalmers is a recurring cast-member of the ongoing MTV show.

Chalmers professional MMA career began nearly one year ago. His first pro bout came in May of 2017, at BAMMA 29. At the event, he faced Greg Jenkins whom he defeated via submission by Americana, 2:12 into the opening round. Overall, Chalmers fought three times professionally, winning each contest. Largely, the reality television start hasn’t spent much time in the cage as a pro. His first win, took him deeper into the fight than the two following match-ups. His second and third bouts, (both for BAMMA) ended by KO/TKO inside the first minute of the opening round. At BAMMA 31, Chalmers defeated Alex Thompson by KO in 30 seconds. While his most recent bout against Karl Donaldson at BAMMA 33, also ended by KO/TKO. This time the referee ended the action 43 seconds into the fight.

Chalmers opponent, Ash Griffiths, had a much different path to this point. Griffiths followed a traditional journey as he did not supplant his training for appearances on a large reality TV network. While he remained focused on MMA, it did not translate into recent success. The British fighter currently finds himself in the midst of four consecutive loses, including his Bellator debut. This streak comes after he started his pro career successfully, etching a record of 4-2. Currently, his record sits slightly under a .500 win percentage at 4-6. A win for Griffiths seems necessary in order to stay within the ranks of the Bellator roster.

Bellator 200 takes place at the historic SSE Arena (Formerly known as the Wembley Arena) on May 25th. SSE Arena is the second largest indoor venue in London, holding 12,500 seats. 

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Report: Bellator plans Rome event for July



With the news of Bellator 200, turning a bit stale being nearly a week old, comes more international event news for the promotion. According to a report by Raphael Marinho of Combate, Bellator scheduled its third international event of 2018. In the report, it states the promotion booked July 14th as a date for a Rome, Italy event. 

It will be the first event held by Bellator in the historic city of Rome, Italy. The first in Rome, but the fifth Bellator event in Italy. Previously, the promotion made stops in Torino and Florence, Italy, holding two events in each location. It also marks the 23rd international held by Bellator. 23 events across 10 cities, and 5 countries.

The previous four Italian events held a mixture of combat sports. Each of the events had a Kickboxing card, serving as the main event and an MMA card, which acted as a main card. News of an accompanying Kickboxing card, most likely, would come following a formal announcement of the event.

Also included in the report, the promotion is working to make Alessio Sakara the headliner of evening. Sakara spent nine years with the UFC (Oct. 2005 – Oct. 2013). Over that span, he earned a record of 6-8. He was cut following four consecutive loses. Before signing with Bellator, Sakara signed with Final Fight Championship, where he went 1-0, 1 NC. His final fight with FFC (Final Fight Championship) was a 1:32 KO of his opponent.

The Italian athlete, Sakara, fought on three of the four previous Italy held Bellator events. Sakara headlined Bellator 190 & 168, while begin the co-main event for Bellator 152. Interestingly, the Middleweights only Bellator competition took place in his home country of Italy. He is 2-1 with the promotion, defeating Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, respectively, while losing to Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho, most recently.

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