Bellator 222: “MacDonald vs. Gracie” airs TONIGHT (June 14, 2019) from Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., streaming online via DAZN (watch it here). In the main event of the evening, Welterweight champion Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) faces the undefeated Neiman Gracie (9-0) in the semifinals of the Welterweight Grand Prix tournament.
Bellator 222’s main card will start at 9 p.m. ET with “Prelims” undercard bouts at 7 p.m. ET, both of which will stream exclusively on the aforementioned DAZN (watch it). MMAmania.com will deliver results and play-by-play for the entirety of the Bellator 222 card below.
Many readers check in before, during and after the fights to share their thoughts on all of the action. Feel free to leave a comment (or 222) about the bouts and chat with all the other Maniacs during the show — it’s always a lot of fun!
BELLATOR 222 QUICK RESULTS:
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie — MacDonald UD 49-46, 48-47 X2.
Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen — Machida TKO 0:22 R2.
Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi — Horiguchi UD 48-47, 49-46 X2.
Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey — Danis sub (armbar) 4:28 R1.
Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta — Archuleta KO 4:59 R2.
Ricky Bandejas vs. Patrick Mix — Mix sub (RNC) 1:06 R1.
Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics — Borics KO 3:55 R2.
Heather Hardy vs. Taylor Turner — Turner TKO 3:53 R1.
Brandon Polcare vs. Brandon Medina — Polcare sub (guillotine) 4:33 R1.
Phil Hawes vs. Michael Wilcox — Hawes TKO (doctor) 5:00 R1.
Mike Kimbel vs. Sebastian Ruiz — Kimbel SD 28-29, 30-27 X2.
Robson Gracie vs. Oscar Vera — Gracie sub (armbar) 3:15 R1.
John Beneduce vs. Kenny Rivera — Beneduce UD 30-26, 30-27 X2.
Kastroit Xhema vs. Whitney Francois — Xhema TKO 3:17 R2.
Rena Kubota vs. Lindsey VanZandt — VanZandt tech. sub (RNC) 4:04 R1.
Haim Gozali vs. Gustavo Wurlitzer — Gozali sub (triangle) 4:02 R1.
Valerie Loureda vs. Larkyn Dasch — Loureda UD 29-28, 30-27 X2.
Marcus Surin vs. Nekruz Mirkhojaev — Surin SD 30-27, 27-29, 29-28.
BELLATOR 222 PLAY-BY-PLAY:
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie
The champion MacDonald is 20-5-1 and the undefeated Gracie is 9-0 tonight coming into the last bout before the finals of the Welterweight tournament. The latter enters first in the blue gloves and light brown trunks fighting out of New York, NY. MacDonald has the red gloves and red trunks fighting out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The referee for our main event tonight is Dan Miragliotta.
Round 1: MacDonald sprinted to the center to start. He pumped the left jab and Gracie responded with a leg kick. MacDonald side steps to avoid a hook to the body. MacDonald leads with a left hook and throws a head kick. Gracie wins right hands. MacDonald stuffs a takedown and eats a jab. Gracie lands another leg kick. MacDonald breaks a clinch at 1:48 quickly. The left hand continues to land for MacDonald. MacDonald slips on a high kick but recovers quickly. Leg kick for Gracie. Two minutes remain in R1. MacDonald with a right hand and he eats a left right back. Two straight left jabs for MacDonald. MacDonald catches a kick and shoves Gracie backward, just missing with a big left hook against the cage. Another kick to MacDonald’s left leg. Gracie catches a push kick and lets it go. 10-9 MacDonald.
Round 2: Gracie goes right back to attacking the leg and gets an outside trip takedown under 20 seconds in. Gracie goes for a leg lock and MacDonald tries to stand up without grabbing the fence. Gracie cranks for all he’s worth as MacDonald falls down but he finally spins and twists free at 1:01. Gracie pushes MacDonald into the fence and he responds with knees. He drops levels and takes the back, going for a leg trip, but MacDonald hops across the cage without going down, then ending up on top at 2:07 with a well timed step over. MacDonald postures up and throws the right hand and left elbow. Gracie goes to mission control. MacDonald sits up again for another right hand with just over 90 seconds to go. Big left elbow over the top at 4:14. Slashing right from MacDonald. He backs up with 20 seconds to go then jumps back on top. Closer round but still 10-9 for the champ.
Round 3: MacDonald throws a kick to the body as Gracie stands in the center looking at him change directions. MacDonald cracks a right hook at 0:20. Gracie’s left eye is starting to swell shut. A left hook right hand from MacDonald and Gracie fires two jabs back. Push kick by MacDonald. MacDonald catches another kick but Gracie avoids the follow-up. Gracie shoots at 1:49 and MacDonald blocks it then throws a slashing elbow. MacDonald throws an off balance Gracie to the ground right to side control. MacDonald tries to set up an armbar but Gracie saw it coming so he resets back to full guard. Short right hands find the mark. Gracie sweeps and swings his way to an armbar but MacDonald steps over to block it. 4:10 gone. Left hands to the head. Solid left to the chin. 10-9 MacDonald again.
Round 4: Gracie comes forward with more urgency and tries to land the right hand, but MacDonald blocks it with his arm and continues to fire the left jab. Gracie shoots and MacDonald lands on top. Gracie pops up and goes for the back but he’s riding high and looks like he’ll slide off at any second. MacDonald ends up on top at 2:47. He stays on top doing damage and nearly takes the back before the bell. It’s one more 10-9 for the champ.
Round 5: Gracie telegraphs a shoot 18 seconds in MacDonald could see coming a mile away. They spin around and around as Gracie refuses to give up and he winds up on top in half guard with four minutes left in the fight. Gracie moves up to full mount but MacDonald refuses to let him posture up and do anything. The call for “work” is issued with three minutes left. MacDonald pushes the hips back to try and get more breathing room. Gracie pushes forward back into half guard. Two minutes left. Gracie is winning this round but it hardly matters unless he gets a finish. MacDonald sits up with 80 seconds left using a modified butterfly guard. Gracie is told to work again. Boos can be heard throughout the Garden. MacDonald gets full guard. 30 seconds. Gracie rolls for a leg but there are only 10 seconds left. He won’t get it. 10-9 Gracie but MacDonald wins the war.
Final result: Rory MacDonald retains by scores of 49-46 and 48-47 X2 unanimous decision.
Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen comes in 31-16-1 for this fight and Lyoto Machida comes in 25-8. Sonnen has the gray/black Venum trunks and blue gloves tonight. Machida sports the light blue trunks and red gloves. Machida hails from Salvador, Brazil and Sonnen from West Linn, Oregon. The referee for our co-main event is Todd Anderson.
Round 1: Sonnen rushes to Machida and has him eating knees along the wall in the opening minute. Machida breaks free at 0:52 and lands a few hard body kicks as Sonnen keeps coming at him. Sonnen throws Machida and jumps on his back but ultimately slips off. Sonnen stomps on the feet as Machida looks for an opportunity to break free. Machida turns it around at 2:35 and pulls away seconds later then lands two more hard body kicks and a flying knee that drops Sonnen! Machida is on top with a flurry of hammerfists. Machida mashes a left elbow into his chin as Sonnen tries to recover his wits. Machida postures up and Sonnen tries to hang on. Machida breaks free and opens up with left and right hands from behind. Sonnen stands back up with 30 seconds left and clinches up. He’ll survive the round but it’s easily a 10-9 for Machida — arguably a 10-8.
Round 2: Sonnen comes forward right away and Machida immediately nails him with another knee and unloads with left hammers and right fists to the head until the referee saves Sonnen approximately 20 seconds in.
Final result: Lyoto Machida wins via technical knockout at 0:22 of round two.
Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Bellator 135 lb. champion Caldwell is 13-2 in the gray trunks red gloves, and the challenger (and Rizin champion) Horiguchi is 27-2 in the black trunks and blue gloves. Horiguchi fights out of Takasaki, Gunma, Japan. Caldwell fights out of San Diego, CA and hails from Rahway, NJ. The referee in charge is Todd Anderson.
Round 1: A sharp tap of gloves opens the fight. Horiguchi kicks low and Caldwell kicks high. Caldwell fires off a pair of head kicks, goes for a flying knee, then secures a takedown and smashes Horiguchi with an elbow. Horiguchi manages to sit up against the fence at 1:46. Caldwell responds with more hard right elbows. Horiguchi tries to box his ears. Caldwell tries to pull him away from the fence. He briefly succeeds but Horiguchi gets his back to the cage again with 90 seconds left. Caldwell with a left elbow and two hard left hands. Horiguchi complains that Caldwell’s fingers were inside the gloves and Anderson sees it and stands the fighters up with short time left. 10-9 Caldwell.
Round 2: Caldwell throws a head kick at 0:05. He circles on the outside as Horiguchi dances back and forth in the center. Horiguchi keeps throwing feints trying to get Caldwell out of his rhythm. Horiguchi checks another head kick. He checks it again at 1:48. Caldwell gets a single leg at 1:57. Horiguchi nearly gets up at 3:17 but Caldwell pushes him back into the fence, sitting up and boxing the ears as he did before. Caldwell uses his left shoulder to hit the chin and then tries to turn Horiguchi away from the fence with 40 seconds left. Anderson stands them up and resets them at 4:38. 10-9 Caldwell.
Round 3: Both men tap gloves before Horiguchi throws the first kick. Horiguchi sprawls to block a takedown at 33 seconds and is fishing for a headlock or possible guillotine. He doesn’t have it but he does get on top in the full guard. Caldwell is now in the position of sitting up against the fence with Horiguchi trying to pull him away. Horiguchi starts trying to posture up at the two minute mark but Caldwell is controlling his arms and head. Horiguchi finally pulls out at 2:51 and sprawls to block the takedown, ending up right back on top again. Caldwell gets back up at 3:53 but not before eating a series of left hands. They swing away at each other until Caldwell gets a takedown at 4:10. Horiguchi scrambles to the cage in the oh-so-familiar seated position. Both men stand before the bell. 10-9 Horiguchi.
Round 4: Horiguchi is going for the guillotine choke off a takedown attempt at the start of R4 but Caldwell pops his head out and they scoot backward to the cage. After a couple of minutes of inactivity the MSG fans start to express their displeasure. Caldwell lands a good elbow but Todd Anderson is getting tired of this single position and considering standing them up. Two minutes remain. They are finally stood up at 3:30. Horiguchi checks the head kick and throws a leg kick. Caldwell dives and misses a single leg attempt. Horiguchi lands a left hand. Another head shot connects as they go to the fence. 10-9 Horiguchi - he gets a takedown at the bell to boot.
Round 5: Caldwell opens the fifth and final round the way you’d expect him to — going for and getting a takedown. To the displeasure of the MSG faithful he keeps Horiguchi right there against the fence. Horiguchi peppers the ribs from his seated position. Horiguchi tries to trap the head for a guillotine choke. 2:10 remains. Caldwell pops his head free at 3:08. Horiguchi got up with about a minute left, got taken down again, and Horiguchi hit some hard elbows to the head. Horiguchi did get an elbow to the eye that has caused some bleeding. Was that enough damage for the judges though? We will find out soon enough. In my view 10-9 Horiguchi.
Final result: The judges score it 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 all for Kyoji Horiguchi by unanimous decision.
Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey
Danis is 1-0 and Humphrey is 3-2 coming into this fight. The latter enters first in the black trunks and blue gloves. Danis has leopard print trunks and red gloves. Humphrey fights out of Albuquerque, NM and Danis fights out of New York, NY. The ref is Mike Beltran. This fight is a catchweight of 175 lbs. a/k/a “The Danis” weight class.
Round 1: Danis gets a takedown 25 seconds in and starts to do a little ground and pound before opting to sit down on the half guard and look for an opening to take the back. He finds it 30 seconds later. Danis pours on lefts and rights to both sides of the head as Beltran warns Humphrey to defend himself. Danis looks for a rear naked choke at 1:37 but then lets it go. He goes back to it at 2:16 as Humphrey tries to turn over on top. Humphrey rolls and gets mashed then rolls and gives up his back again. 3:10 gone. Humphrey was almost able to get a back door escape and Danis briefly got a warning to not grab the cage. He looks to secure a kimura but the fence is actually in his way.Danis throws right hammer fists as he tries to secure it and finally gets it to where Humphrey has to tap with short time left.
Final result: Dillon Danis via submission (armbar) at 4:28 of round one.
Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta
Archuleta is out first in the white trunks and blue gloves, pro record of 22-1, looking to prove himself against a former world champion. Dantas has the red gloves and red trunks for his first Bellator fight at Featherweight, sporting a record of 21-6 before the fight. Archuleta is on a 17 win streak and fights out of Venice Beach, CA. Dantas is on a ONE fight win streak and he fights out of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The referee is Blake Grice.
Round 1: Dantas comes toward Archuleta so fast that the fighters draw a warning to not poke each other in the eye. Grice calls a time when he thinks Dantas got poked but Dantas says he’s okay and the fight is quickly restarted. Archuleta tries to throw body shots but Dantas quickly backpedals to avoid damage. Dantas throws a spinning backfist that connects. Archuleta clinches up and gets thrown off. Archuleta gets a takedown and Dantas quickly recovers to the three point stance. Archuleta tries and tries to drag him back down, throwing knee strikes to the back of the legs and foot stomps.He throws his left leg over Dantas’ left knee but can’t get him down. Dantas draws a warning not to grab the cage. Two underhooks create a stalemate with Dantas’ back on the fence. He moves away at 4:29. Two high kicks from Archuleta and one strong strike for Dantas before the bell. 10-9 Archuleta.
Round 2: Archuleta pours on the offense at 1:10 and then shoots for a takedown, pressing Dantas backward into the fencing. A close up shows that the strikes Archuleta landed opened up a cut on Dantas’ eyelid. He himself seems to acknowledge it on the break as he tries to wipe away his eyes. Dantas checks a head kick. Archuleta circles and Dantas tries to cut angles. Archuleta rocks Dantas at 3:33. Dantas misses with the spinning backfist and lands a leg kick. Archuleta with an uppercut at 4:44. Right before the bell can sound ARCHULETA DROPS DANTAS WITH A WALK OFF RIGHT HOOK and it’s all over!
Final result: Juan Archuleta via KNOCKOUT at 4:59 of round two.
Ricky Bandejas vs. Patrick Mix
The undefeated (10-0) Mix is out first in the black trunks and blue gloves as the former KOTC Bantamweight champion. Bandejas also has black trunks but sports the red gloves and a record of 11-2, including a bout where he handed James Gallagher his first loss in MMA. Mix fights out of Angola, NY. Bandejas fights out of Brick, NJ. The referee is Kevin MacDonald.
Round 1: No glove tap. Mix backs Bandejas up to the fence and shoots in at 0:20. He jumps on Bandejas back at 26 seconds and locks up a body triangle. Mix is fishing for a rear naked choke as he rides Bandejas like a backpack and Bandejas taps out just, like, that!!
Final result: Patrick Mix via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:06 of round one.
Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics
Pico is 4-2 in the red gloves with white trunks, hailing from Whittier, CA and fighting out of Albuquerque, NM. Borics is 12-0 in the blue gloves and black trunks for this fight, hailing from Hungary and fighting out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The ref is Dan Miragliotta.
Round 1: Quick tap of gloves. Pico shoots 20 seconds into the round and has the takedown 10 seconds later. Borics gets his back to the fence and posts on one hand as Pico tries to drag him away from the wall. Pico finally picks him up and slams Borics down in the middle of the cage. Borics tries to get back up and eats a left hand before he does at 2:18. Borics tries a jump knee and throws a leg kick. Borics lands another and Pico goes right back to the takedown slam in the center at 2:49. Pico is trying to take the back while Borics tries to control the arms and wrists. Borics tries and fails to sweep but is able to get back to his knees. Pico ties up his legs with his own but Borics breaks the grapevine and gets back up at 4:39. Pico with a right hand and a level change then a right elbow before the bell. Opening round goes 10-9 to Pico.
Round 2: Pico gets another takedown 14 seconds into the round. Borics looks for upkicks and Pico avoids it and lets Borics stand up at 1:08 before taking him down again nine seconds later. Miragliotta calls for more work twice. Borics gets to his knees and Pico responds by kneeing Borics in the left thigh before pulling him back down. Borics stands up and turns around at 3:44. Borics rocks Pico with a flying knee and the fight is over!! Pico was eating hammerfists at Miragliotta stepped in and still looked dazed and confused afterward.
Final result: Adam Borics wins via KNOCKOUT at 3:55 in round two.
Heather Hardy vs. Taylor Turner
Blue gloves, black trunks and top for Turner, 3-5 out of Knoxville, TN. Red gloves, green trunks and white top for Hardy. Her record is 2-1 and she fights out of Brooklyn, NY. The referee in charge is Blake Grice.
Round 1: Hardy is pressing forward immediately and stuffs a takedown to end up getting one of her own. Turner tries to turn it around and Hardy stands up in response. Turner gets the leg sweep and is on top in side control as we pass the minute mark. Turner gets full mount at 1:23 and Hardy gives up her back after a flurry of strikes. Turner has her flattened out at the 2:00 minute mark and rolls looking to sink in a rear naked choke on top from behind. Hardy rolls again and Turner blasts her with right hands from a high mount. Grice warns Hardy to improve as Turner pours it on. Elbows come down as he gives another warning. 90 seconds left and it doesn’t seem like Hardy will survive that long. She doesn’t.
Final result: Taylor Turner via technical knockout at 3:53 of the first round.
Brandon Polcare vs. Brandon Medina
Medina makes his pro debut in the red gloves and black trunks out of Bronx, NY. Polcare is 1-2 in the blue gloves and trunks out of Saratoga Springs, NY. The ref is Kevin MacDonald.
Round 1: Polcare tries and tries to get a single leg and finally has it at 51 seconds. Nothing happens after that. MacDonald issues a halfhearted “let’s go guys” at 2:44. They’re finally stood up with just over a minute left and Medina lands a kick and a knee then gets a takedown of his own. Polcare tries to turn it into a guillotine choke and does. It’s over.
Final result: Brandon Polcare via submission (guillotine choke) at 4:33 of round one.
Phil Hawes vs. Michael Wilcox
Red gloves and black trunks for Hawes, 4-2, fighting out of Ridgefield Park, NJ. Blue trunks and blue gloves for Wilcox, 6-3, fighting out of Philadelphia, PA. Todd Anderson is the ref.
Round 1: Both men square up at the middle and exchange a cautious tap. Hawes throws a kick and Wilcox tries to pick him up for a takedown. They go to the fence and Hawes breaks away. They go back to center and Hawes gradually forces Wilcox to circle on the outside as he throws lefts to the head and body. Hawes is using kicks to the abdomen to set up a right hook and when it lands Wilcox is rocked. Hawes immediately grounds him and takes side control, then pulls out to let Wilcox stand back up. Wilcox gets hurt by another right hand and Anderson warns Hawes not to hit the back of the head before he gets full mount. Wilcox is hanging on for dear life underneath as Hawes tries to peel him away to throw strikes. Blood is smearing the canvas from where Hawes smashed his left eye. Wilcox hangs on to get a second round. 10-8 Hawes.
Referee Todd Anderson is going to the replay to see if what caused the eye to be swollen shut was a headbutt or a punch. If he decides it was the former it’s a no contest. If he decides it was the latter it will be a TKO by doctor’s stoppage awarded to Hawes because Wilcox’ eye is swollen shut. Replay verifies it was a punch.
Final result: Phil Hawes wins by technical knockout at 5:00 of round one.
Mike Kimbel vs. Sebastian Ruiz
Kimbel is 2-1 in the red gloves and black trunks, Ruiz is 2-2 in the blue gloves and black trunks. Kimbel missed weight for this Bantamweight fight by 1.6 pounds. Ruiz fights out of Newark, NJ by way of Lima, Peru. Kimbel fights out of Fort Lauderdale, FL by way of Waterbury, CT. The ref is Mike Beltran.
Round 1: No glove tap as Kimbel is coming forward quickly with kicks. Ruiz is hurt with strikes 39 seconds in and ties up with Kimbel to recover his equilibrium. Beltran calls time and throws Ruiz off due to him giving Kimbel a low blow. Kimbel is quickly ready for the restart and immediately misses with an overhand right before snapping off a leg kick. Ruiz is quickly backpedaling and trying to keep Kimbel at bay with his own kicks. They trade leg kicks as we pass the halfway point. Ruiz connects with a right and Kimbel answers with a combo. Ruiz keeps side stepping and making Kimbel come toward him but Kimbel doubles him to the ground. Both men swing away in the closing seconds of R1. 10-9 Kimbel.
Round 2: This round starts like most of round one went - Ruiz circling and side stepping to avoid the straightforward offense of Kimbel. The good news for Kimbel is that Ruiz is never coming forward and only occasionally landing leg kicks. Kimbel connects with a left hook. Ruiz throws a body shot. Ruiz kicks Kimbel in the groin AGAIN. Once again Kimbel is quickly ready to go as half of R2 (and potentially the fight) remains. Now Kimbel kicks Ruiz in the cup and we get ANOTHER timeout. Beltran tells them to keep it clean and makes them shake hands before the restart. Kimbel lands the left hand. Kimbel taunts Ruiz on a potential groin kick. Ruiz comes at him angrily and Kimbel clips him and rocks him with a right hand. 10-9 Kimbel.
Round 3: Both men hug it out to open R3. Ruiz continues to circle away and throw kicks at Kimbel’s lead left leg. Kimbel returns the favor with his own kicks. Ruiz is missing wildly with his hands. Kimbel lands a hard 1-2 at 2:25 and Ruiz tells Kimbel to bring it on. Ruiz has a bloody nose. Another big right hand at 3:25 for Kimbel. Ruiz has slowed down. Kimbel claims another foul but Beltran does nothing. Ruiz looks for a takedown late but doesn’t get it. 10-9 Kimbel.
Final result: Mike Kimbel via 28-29, 30-27, 30-27 split decision.
Robson Gracie vs. Oscar Vera
Gracie is 1-0 in the red gloves and white streaked trunks, fighting out of New York, NY. Vera makes his pro debut in the blue gloves with black trunks fighting out of Bronx, NY. The referee is Blake Grice.
Round 1: Gracie walks forward with his right hand cocked and his left hand down by his waist, his head leading as his posture is leaning toward his opponent. He chases the right hand, Vera shrugs him off and lets Gracie crash to the mat, then lets him back up rather than getting into a chess match on the ground. They tie up on the fence as Royce Gracie looks on from the crowd. Vera holds Gracie in place with overhooks but Gracie responds with a leg trip to half guard on top. You can hear Renzo calling out instructions as Robson transitions to full mount with two minutes left. Robson transitions to get an armbar and Vera quickly taps out.
Final result: Robson Gracie wins via submission (armbar) at 3:15 of round one.
John Beneduce vs. Kenny Rivera
Beneduce is 2-2 in the red gloves and red trunks, fighting out of Brooklyn, NY. Rivera is 2-1 in the blue gloves with black trunks, fighting out of Queens, NY. The ref is Mike Beltran.
Round 1: Rivera is pushed into the fence early as Beneduce looks for a takedown. He finally gets it at 55 seconds. Rivera wraps his legs around Beneduce’s back and holds on then bucks and rolls to get up at the two minute mark. Beneduce immediately pushes him into the fence but Beltran calls time when Rivera knees Beneduce in the groin. Beltran restarts them in the same position due to it being an accidental foul. Beneduce trips Rivera to the ground at 2:35. Rivera uses a butterfly guard to try and keep Beneduce at bay but he gets to side control anyway dropping right hands on Rivera’s head. Rivera tries to buck him off to no avail. Beneduce smashes him so many times in the head that he’s stunned Beltran didn’t stop it. Rivera gets up and gets a takedown of his own at 4:16. THAT is why the referee didn’t stop it — you didn’t hurt him with those shots. Beneduce rolls for a heel hook with seconds left but Rivera escapes. 10-9 Beneduce.
Round 2: Rivera puts Beneduce on the fence quickly. Multiple knees to the body connect. Beltran calls time as one of those knees hits the groin. Once again Beltran restarts them in the position they were in and Beneduce immediately turns Rivera around. Rivera turns him, Beneduce does the same and drops levels, and Beneduce finally lets go of the single leg and is put against the cage. Beneduce counters it into a takedown but Rivera sweeps on top at 2:45. Rivera tries to pour on ground and pound but Beneduce throws upkicks and Rivera jumps back on top in full guard. 90 seconds remain in R2. Beneduce counters and now he has side control but Rivera sweeps again and has the same. Rivera is on top in North-South as Beneduce counters it into a takedown with half guard and 16 seconds left. Beneduce gets a full mount late with no time to take advantage of it. 10-9 Beneduce.
Round 3: Beneduce gets a takedown 19 seconds into R3. The crowd chants MAN-I-MAL for him even though not much is going on. Beneduce gets a “work to the finish” warning at 1:48. They’re not stood up though. Time drips slowly away like sand through the hour glass. Beneduce takes the back at 3:10 as Rivera gets to his knees. Rivera stands up and Beneduce gets his arms around the neck from behind. The seconds continue to eke away. Beneduce is given another warning to work with 30 seconds to go. He hits knees to the legs as he pulls Rivera down to a three point stance. 10-9 Beneduce as Rivera goes for a leg lock at the bell.
Final result: The judges score it 30-26, 30-27 X2 for John Beneduce.
Kastroit Xhema vs. Whitney Francois
Blue gloves, black trunks, 2-6-1, Brooklyn, NY is Francois. Red gloves and trunks, 2-3, Greenwich, CT is Xhema. The referee is Dan Miragliotta. This is a catchweight 165 lb. bout.
Round 1: Francois gets a takedown at 0:09. He works his way to half guard. Xhema gets up at 1:47 and gets tagged but responds in kind with a left hook. Francois goes for a spinning high kick and then changes levels looking for a takedown. Miragliotta warns them to watch groin strikes as Xhema stands back up. Francois takes him down to half at 2:30. Right elbows to the head before Xhema gets back up. Knee to the body and a left hand before Francois puts him on the cage again. Another takedown at 3:17. Xhema gets back up at 3:48. Xhema hurts him with some wild strikes and Francois gets the takedown at 4:10 in response. Francois had a chance to take full mount and decided to stay in half instead. 10-9 Francois.
Round 2: Francois with a takedown 12 seconds in. Miragliotta: “You gotta work. Don’t just lay on him!” McCarthy: “Right now you’re not seeing him do anything.” Xhema tries and fails to escape once, but the second time at 1:50 he’s back to his feet. Now Xhema gets a takedown with a full mount from behind raining down left and right hands until Miragliotta steps in to save Francois.
Final result: Kastriot Xhema via technical knockout at 3:17 in round two.
Rena Kubota vs. Lindsey VanZandt
Kubota is 8-2 in the red gloves, trunks and top fighting out of Tokyo, Japan. VanZandt is 5-1 in the blue gloves, blue trunks and top out of Jacksonville, FL. This fight is a catchweight of 112 lbs. The referee is Todd Anderson.
Round 1: VanZandt and Kubota are content to throw hands early until VanZandt goes for a takedown at 45 seconds and is stuffed. She pushes Kubota into the fence but lets it go at 1:04. Kubota takes the center as VanZandt circles to her right throwing leg kicks. Kubota lands strikes and a knee but VanZandt gets a takedown off it at 2:36. Kubota gets up at 3:03 but VanZandt drags her back down and takes the back with both hooks in. Kubota passes out just past four minutes to the rear naked choke!
Final result: Lindsey VanZandt via technical submission (rear naked) at 4:04 of round one.
Haim Gozali vs. Gustavo Wurlitzer
Wurlitzer is in the blue gloves with green trunks, 22-22, fighting out of Brooklyn, NY by way of Curitiba, Brazil. Gozali is in the red gloves with blue trunks, 10-6, fighting out of Bat Yam, Israel. The ref is Dan Miragliotta.
Round 1: Gozali comes forward swinging at 35 seconds and Wurlitzer responds by doing a cartwheel. Gozali stumbles and Wurlitzer gets on top in full guard. Gozali tries to work his legs up around Wurtlitzer’s back for a possible triangle. Wurlitzer senses it and grapevines the legs and spreads. Wurlitzer pushes Gozali toward the fence, where he’s able to sit up briefly as we pass the halfway point, and then he swings his legs over to go for an armbar or a triangle choke. It looks like his choice is the choke. Wurlitzer hangs on as he gets punched and elbowed in the head repeatedly with 90 seconds left. Now Gozali is starting to consider an armbar instead. He doesn’t need to go for it as Wurlitzer taps with about a minute left.
Final result: Haim Gozali via submission (triangle choke) 4:02 of round one.
Valerie Loureda vs. Larkyn Dasch
Loureda is 1-0 in the red gloves with white trunks and top, fighting out of Miami, FL. Dasch is 0-1 in the blue gloves with pink trunks and top, fighting out of Detroit, MI. The referee in charge is Kevin MacDonald.
Round 1: Glove tap to start. Loureda goes for an arm right away but lets it go as Dasch lands a hard shot. Dasch is coming forward with hard lefts, forcing Loureda to back up and reset, and then Loureda lands a hard kick to the head that momentarily slows Dasch. Dasch regains her composure and throws a solid right hand. Loureda connects with multiple body kicks. Dasch is trying to chase her down. Loureda lands a very solid body kick, Dasch takes her down in response, Loureda gets right back up. Spinning back kick by Loureda. Left hand by Dasch. Loureda rocks Dasch with 15 seconds left with a kick to the head and follows up with a flurry to the face. 10-9 Loureda.
Round 2: Dasch seems well recovered to start R2 and is throwing overhand lefts with bad intentions. Loureda dances around her jabbing with the left. She charges forward with a combo. Another body kick at 1:39 for Loureda. Dasch connects with a hard left. Loureda with two more kicks to the body in return. Dasch throws a kick and Loureda catches it. Two minutes left in R2. Spinning kick, multiple body kicks, and a fast exchange of hands from Loureda leave Dasch backpedaling and surviving as best she can. There’s no quit in her. Loureda nails her multiple times in the final 10 seconds but Dasch knocks her backward with a hard left in return. 10-9 Loureda.
Round 3: Loureda reluctantly accepts the glove tap to start the final round. Loureda circles left and right trying to get the read she wants. Dasch walks toward her in straight lines looking to land what she can. Loureda periodically lands the right hand amidst her footwork. Dasch is having trouble closing the distance to land anything of her own. Leg kick by Loureda. Right hook by Loureda. Body kick at 3:16. Leg kick from Dasch. Head kick checked but Loureda’s leg kick lands. Spin kick. Right hand. Dasch seemingly has nothing left with 30 seconds to go. Another body kick at 4:47. Dasch tries and tails to make it a takedown but does clip Loureda with a hand RIGHT before the bell. 10-9 Loureda.
Final result: Valerie Loureda 29-28 and 30-27 X2 by unanimous decision.
Marcus Surin vs. Nekruz Mirkhojaev
Mirkhojaev is 4-2 in the black trunks and blue gloves fighting out of Brooklyn, NY. Surin is 5-1 in the gray trunks and red gloves fighting out of Spring Valley, NY. The ref is Kevin MacDonald.
Round 1: Glove tap to start. Surin immediately has Mirkhojaev backpedaling. Mirkhojaev responds by picking Surin up and throwing him OVERHEAD for a slam. He takes Surin’s back on the ground and gets one hook in as Surin gets back up. Surin falls backward trying to slam his way out of danger and he finally breaks free at 1:18. Mirkhojaev pushes him into the cage and they spin back and forth trying to get a dominant position. Mirkhojaev single legs Surin to the ground. He’s back up at 2:16 and right back down. He gets up again and now Surin is going for a takedown of his own. He breaks off to throw hands and Mirkhojaev responds in kind. Two minutes left in R1. Mirkhojaev and Surin trade knees. Mirkhojaev tries to drag Surin to the ground and winds up putting Surin on top. Surin takes side control and spins to North-South to get back up. Surin throws a couple of knees as he has Mirkhojaev headlocked before the bell. 10-9 Surin.
Round 2: Surin is connecting with uppercuts and right hands early. Surin and Mirkhojaev clinch their way to the fence. Mirkhojaev goes for the takedown and gets him down although Surin keeps getting back up to a knee. He’s standing again at 90 seconds but Mirkhojaev has a waist lock. MacDonald calls for action as the fight stalls on the cage. Mirkhojaev responds with another takedown but loses back control and Surin nails him with a few shots when they stand up. Surin pushes Mirkhojaev to the cage and delivers a series of uppercuts. He pulls the head down to throw a knee. Mirkhojaev tries to throw Surin to the ground but lets Surin on top and he takes full mount for some vicious elbows. One minute remains if Mirkhojaev can last that long. MacDonald gives a warning with 20 seconds left as Surin pours on lefts and rights and elbows. 10-8 Surin.
Round 3: Mirkhojaev was warned to stand up for the bell or MacDonald was going to call the right. Surin immediately smacks him with a right hand. He grabs the clinch and goes for the knee flush. Mirkhojaev gets his back to the fence and tries to weather the storm. Surin goes body head with the strikes. Mirkhojaev’s only offense is to hold Surin in place. Surin throws knees to the midsection. Mirkhojaev seems to be melting in front of us. He can barely stand up. He tries to drop levels for a single leg. Surin sits down and elbows him in the head. Mirkhojaev keeps trying to get it but Surin stands back up at 3:13. Mirkhojaev gets a body lock and throws Surin. Ranallo calls it a modified German suplex — he would know. Mirkhojaev is in full guard with a minute left. He can’t do anything there. 10-9 Surin.
Final result: Marcus Surin wins via split decision of 30-27, 27-29, 29-28.