Bellator 189 “Budd vs. Blencowe 2" took place last night (Fri., Dec. 1, 2017) at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. For the second show in a row an old rivalry was renewed by a Featherweight main event.
The first time Julia Budd and Arlene Blencowe met at Bellator 162, Budd left with a majority decision in a fight where the third round could have gone either way. There was more at stake this time though as Budd’s newly won 145-pound title was on the line over a potential five rounds.
This was not the best women’s MMA fight you could have watched on Friday night. The most convincing round was the first, which Budd won with her thai plum and her clinch work against the fence. She dropped levels repeatedly but could never get Blencowe down to the ground.
The least convincing round was the fourth, where neither woman seemed to have the inner fire to take the fight from the other, even though both women seemed fresh enough to dominate. Nobody was sucking wind or sporting a black eye, but nobody was pressing an advantage. The largely patient Thackerville crowd responded with boos by the last minute.
For a majority of rounds two, three and five Blencowe was the aggressor and was landing hands with her superior boxing background. Budd got a takedown very late in Round 2 that shouldn’t have scored it in her favor. She scored none in the fourth or the fifth. The inexplicable scores from the judges at the end were 49-46 Budd, 48-47 Blencowe, and 49-46 for Budd by split decision.
Budd listened to the boos rain down in Thackerville as Jimmy Smith stepped in for an interview.
"It was really hard for me to land my hands, she's an awesome fighter, I didn't expect an easy fight but I knew I won."
American jiu-jitsu star Rafael Lovato Jr. (6-0) had yet to see a fight in Bellator that went past the first round. “The Cutt” Chris Honeycutt (10-1, 1 NC) looked to change that and pick up his fifth-straight win in the Middleweight division.
Rafael Lovato Jr. (@lovatojrbjj) (6-0) will look to remain undefeated when he takes on Chris Honeycutt (10-1) in a 185-pound co-main event at #Bellator189 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla. pic.twitter.com/5iJkJRMz2c— Pedro Henrique (@PedraoH54) December 1, 2017
Both men played to their strengths as Lovato went for multiple forms of submission, Honeycutt went for multiple takedowns, and each round wound up looking like a carbon copy of the last. What edged the fight Lovato’s way was the strikes he landed when it stayed on the feet, the number of times he fought off Honeycutt’s takedowns, and the fact Honeycutt couldn’t get any dominant spots on top when he did get it to the ground. Lovato won 29-28 and 30-27 X2.
Speaking of Middleweights two strikers stepped up to put on a show in Thackerville as Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani (10 of 17 wins by KO) faced Hisaki Kato (seven of eight by KO).
For a man who had trouble meeting the limit at Welterweight, Njokuani looked entirely comfortable coming up to 185, still having the height and reach advantage over his opponent and using it to his advantage. Kato’s only effective weapon was leg kicks that knocked Njokuani off balance in Round 1, but Njokuani consistently out struck him with power throughout the frame.
The gap widened for Njokuani with each consecutive round. He marked up Kato’s face consistently and threw knees up the middle any time he got a clinch. The only mistakes he made were poking Kato in the eye right as Round 2 ended (drawing a warning) and grabbing the fence as Kato went for a Round 3 takedown (another warning). All of the judges scored it 30-27 for Njokuani.
In a catch weight bout of 160 pounds, “The Caveman” David Rickels took on Adam Piccolotti. Rickels did what he’s known for best — apply pressure relentlessly. By the end of the second round Rickels had swelled Piccolotti’s left eye shut, forcing a doctor to clear Piccolotti before round three could begin.
Despite multiple third round takedown attempts by Piccolotti, it was Rickels who was in a better position to win as he had two triangle attempts that were close, including one that went to the bell. All three judges awarded the fight 30-27 to Rickels, who spoke to Jimmy Smith afterward.
“Dude - how sweet would that have been to win with a triangle? That dude is tough! He’s a gangster but I am the O.G. in this Bellator cage! Never backed out of a fight! I show up on short notice, any notice, you can find me in this Bellator cage until I die!”
For complete Bellator 189 results and coverage click here.