Bellator 253: “Caldwell vs. McKee” is set to air TONIGHT (Thurs., Nov. 19, 2020) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Featherweight stars meet in the semifinals of the promotion’s Grand Prix tournament as “The Wolf” Darrion Caldwell (15-3) meets a “Mercenary” named A.J. McKee (16-0).
Bellator 253’s main card will air on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. ET, while the undercard will stream live in the video player above at 4:45 p.m. ET. MMAmania.com will deliver results for the full card and comprehensive play-by-play for the televised portion of Bellator 253 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 253) about the bouts and chat with all the other Maniacs during the show — it’s always a lot of fun!
BELLATOR 253 QUICK RESULTS:
Darrion Caldwell vs. A.J. McKee — McKee sub (neck crank) 1:11 R1.
Benson Henderson vs. Jason Jackson — Jackson UD 30-27 X3.
Joey Davis vs. Bobby Lee — Davis UD 30-26, 30-27 X2.
Raufeon Stots vs. Keith Lee — Stots UD 30-27 X3.
Jeremy Kennedy vs. Matt Bessette — Kennedy UD 30-27, 30-26 X2.
Jaleel Willis vs. Mark Lemminger — Willis UD 29-28 X3.
Jay Jay Wilson vs. Sergio De Bari — Wilson KO 0:20 R1.
Kevin Ferguson Jr. vs. Kaheem Murray — Murray UD 30-27 X3.
Sullivan Cauley vs. Jason Markland — Cauley KO 0:28 R1.
BELLATOR 253 PLAY-BY-PLAY:
Darrion Caldwell vs. A.J. McKee
The 16-0 McKee has yellow trunks and blue gloves for the night’s main event.Black trunks and red gloves for the 15-3 Caldwell. The winner advances to the finals to face the winner of the Sanchez vs. Pitbull rematch on the other side of the Featherweight Grand Prix bracket. McKee fights out of Long Beach, California. Caldwell fights out of Redlands, California. The referee for this contest is Kevin MacDonald. Both men touch gloves during final instructions.
Round 1: McKee throws a cartwheel kick to start that doesn’t land. Caldwell shoots for and secures the takedown 25 seconds in. McKee is trying to throw elbows off his back but it’s Caldwell who smashes a left elbow home to the face. McKee secures a submission and suddenly and violently CALDWELL TAPS OUT. McKee had the squeeze on and Caldwell’s head was trapped with nowhere to go but into a neck crank. It was picture perfect.
Final result: A.J. McKee advances to the finals via neck crank submission at 1:11 of round one.
Benson Henderson vs. Jason Jackson
Henderson comes into the co-main event at 28-9, having been knocked out by Michael Chandler in his last bout (and Chandler’s last Bellator fight). Jackson brings a two fight win streak and a record of 12-4 to this Welterweight contest. Jackson sports the Jamaican flag over his shoulders, blue gloves on his hands, blue trunks around his waist. Red gloves and white trunks for “Smooth” Ben. Jackson is taller at 6’1” to 5’9” and he has a 8.5” reach advantage at 78.5”. Jackson fights out of Hollywood, Florida. Henderson fights out of Phoenix, Arizona. The ref is Mike Beltran.
Round 1: Jackson rushes to the center immediately and has Henderson trying to figure out his vector of attack off the back foot. So far it’s throwing leg kicks, as he has to avoid the body shots and head kicks along with right hands. Henderson shoots for a single and Jackson overpowers him to the ground. Henderson stays on it like a dog on a bone but Jackson gets back to his feet at 2:01. Jackson is answering with leg kicks of his own and throws a nice body kick. Henderson tries to punch his way to a takedown to no effect. Jackson cleans his clock with a combo at 3:00. Now Jackson is the one initiating the clinch, though he backs up to throw a head kick. Hard left hand stuns Henderson for a second. Knee up the middle from Jackson. Henderson falls down throwing a kick but recovers quick. Body shot from Henderson. Left hand from Jackson. 10-9 Jackson.
Round 2: Jackson is circling his left hand in the air, but it’s his right uppercut that cracks Henderson. “Smooth” Ben is leaning back trying to avoid the right and throwing upkicks with his right foot. Henderson shoots at 1:18 and gets overpowered again, with Jackson winding up on top in full guard. Henderson scoots backward and Jackson steps over to half guard, then switches to take the back with 2:30 remaining. Henderson recovers the guard but he’s on his back and Jackson can easily pass to side control — which he does. Jackson had a chance at a choke, let it go, takes the back, and Henderson gets to his feet with just over 90 seconds left. Jackson trips him right back down. North-South for Jackson. Henderson tries to reverse it but Jackson gets to his feet. Reverse elbows from Jackson. Knees from Henderson. Jackson blocks the takedown and fires a knee high on Henderson. Jackson is on top in 3⁄4 guard again at the bell. 10-9.
Round 3: Henderson is going for the takedown again a minute into round one, can’t quite get Jackson under control, and Jackson reverses it to take the back and get a takedown of his own. Henderson had thought to turn it into a kimura but couldn’t hold onto it. Henderson tries and fails to get up and Jackson has a front headlock. Jackson is warned about potentially kneeing a grounded opponent so he decides to step back instead. Henderson is now openly flopping to the ground trying to lure Jackson into a grappling battle. Jackson looks to take control there with 75 seconds left. Henderson gets on his hands and knees with 30 seconds left but Jackson stops him from getting up and escapes a late heel hook attempt. 10-9 Jackson.
Final result: Jason Jackson by unanimous decision of 30-27 X3.
Joey Davis vs. Bobby Lee
Davis brings a record of 7-0 into this Welterweight contest with CFFC champion Bobby Lee, who is 12-4 in his Bellator debut. Davis sports the purple/gold trunks and red gloves, Lee sports the black trunks and blue gloves. Davis has a 7” reach advantage at 75.5”. Lee fights out of Victor, Minnesota. Davis hails from Compton, California. The ref is Kerry Hatley.
Round 1: Lee charged in very aggressively throwing hands, but Davis just ignored it all and dropped levels for a takedown at 40 seconds. Lee tried to get up and got put right back down at 1:17. So far all Lee can do is try to keep it chest to chest to avoid Davis’ ground and pound. Davis moves to half and unloads right hands to the head. Lee tries to peel him away with some elbows, but the big right hands are causing Hatley to take a close look. Lee recovers to butterfly guard but he was within a second or two of being stopped. Davis is using his right shoulder and elbow to keep increasing the damage from the guard. He’s looking to pass with 30 seconds left but Lee keeps him in the middle — just barely. 10-9 opening round for Davis.
Round 2: Lee shoots to no avail 25 seconds in. Davis shoots 10 seconds later and has no problem completing the takedown. Hard right hands to the ribs. Lee lets go of a kimura attempt to scramble to his feet and finally breaks free at 1:34. Left high kick from Davis. Lee is easily taken down again at 2:04. Davis works his way to the back and has one hook in as Lee tries to get up. He can’t quite break away but he does get Davis back into guard on top. Another 10-9 for Davis.
Round 3: Lee is still coming forward — you have to give him that much. He checks a head kick with his left arm but can’t stop the takedown at 1:12. Davis passes to half guard and there’s not much Lee can do about it. He gives up his back trying to get away and is being smashed by left hands to the face. His blood is dripping onto the white canvas. The only thing that changes as the last minute ticks away is that Davis switches back to full guard to not give Lee and more changes to get free. 10-9 clean sweep.
Final result: Joey Davis by unanimous decision of 30-26, 30-27 X2.
Raufeon Stots vs. Keith Lee
Lee sports the red trunks and blue gloves with a record of 7-3 for this Bantamweight bout, while Stots wears the black trunks and red gloves with a record of 14-1. Stots owns a 2” reach advantage at 72.5”, and is seven years older at 31 years of age. Lee fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Stots fights out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The referee is Todd Anderson.
Round 1: No glove tap after the opening bell. Stots is the pressure provider early, making Lee circle on the outside and avoid a couple of big left hands. Lee steps in to throw a head kick and Stots checks it with his arm. Lee gets popped a couple of times as he tries to throw a knee. Leg kick from Stots. Lee tries to kick at the right knee. Stots lands a hard straight left and clinches Lee against the fence. Lee breaks free but a kick touches his chin as he does. Lee throws another head kick that partially lands, but Stots nearly takes him down as he’s off balance throwing it. Stots pushes him into the cage and Anderson warns Lee not to grab the fence twice. He grabs it again at 3:45 and is bluntly told “LET IT GO.” Stots grounds him and is going for a rear naked choke with under a minute left. 10-9 Stots.
Round 2: Lee is trying to start this round more aggressively. Stots is stutter stepping his way toward Lee to keep him guessing. Hard leg kick from Stots. Lee keeps trying to kick high but he eats another straight left to the face. Stots throws a body kick. Right hand to the body from Stots. Left hand to the chin. Overhand right from Stots. Lee keeps trying to reset to the center but only after he’s been backing up and taking damage, so it’s not changing the tenor of the fight. Stots keeps on landing the left to the face. Overhand right connects for Stots. Lee circles and dances back and forth but Stots ignores it and walks forward to throw combos at 3:40. Stots grabs a kick and nearly lands a head kick in response. Lee throws a knee to the body but Stots immediately rushes him to the fence. He takes Lee down at 4:42 and has the back at the bell. 10-9 again.
Round 3: Lee is openly flinching now when Stots throws out the left hand. Stots lands a right hook and Lee lands a left. They start trading wildly at the one minute mark. Stots drops levels and has Lee’s head trapped. Stots is trying to get a guillotine while Lee is able to pop his head out at 2:10. Stots immediately scoots backward to the fence as Lee tries to grapevine the leg and hold him down. It doesn’t work. Stots is back up at 2:36 and pushes off nine seconds later. The leg kicks are making Lee wince. Lee has a trickle of blood running down his face from the lefts that have been landing. Right to the body again at 3:50. Lee goes for the head kick again but it’s not there. Stots teases a flying knee. 40 seconds. Stots shoots and gets the takedown, then takes the back when Lee tries to pop right up and throws him down again. Stots is going for a late RNC . Lee escapes and eats a knee. They keep swinging right to the bell. 10-9 Stots.
Final result: Raufeon Stots by unanimous decision of 30-27 X3.
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