Bellator 254 “Macfarlane vs. Velasquez” took place Thursday, December 10, 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main event saw undefeated Flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-0) defend her title against Juliana Velasquez (10-0).
The main event has arrived!@Ilimanator squares up with @JuVelasquezMMA in just a few moments LIVE on @CBSSportsNet in the and with @SkySports Mix in the .#Bellator254 #MMA #Bellator pic.twitter.com/vYs7fioGvY— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
Macfarlane was clearly struggling with the size and reach of Velasquez for the first two rounds. The opening frame saw very few strikes landing either way, but Velasquez was providing constant forward pressure in arguably the only thing you could score. In the second round they spent a long time in clinch against the cage, but when Macfarlane finally got a leg trip it was Velasquez who landed on top and stayed there for the final minute.
Things went from bad to worse for “Iliminator” in round three as Velasquez opened a cut under the right eyebrow and hit her with a jumping knee in the closing seconds. The fourth round finally saw Macfarlane make a comeback, but not before Velasquez got the blood pouring out of her nose. She scored the takedown at three minutes and worked for the next 120 seconds to throw hard leather at the body and the head. She’d need much more than that to retain her title in the fifth frame.
@Ilimanator gets the takedown late in round 4️⃣.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
The 5️⃣th and final round of this title fight is up next LIVE on @CBSSportsNet in the and with @SkySports Mix in the .#MMA #Bellator254 #Bellator #USOHolidays pic.twitter.com/S7isWHlm68
Unfortunately Macfarlane was never able to find the path to victory. Velasquez got on top on the first takedown attempt, stifled the second, and all Macfarlane had left at the end of the round was foot stomps. 48-47 X2, 49-46, Velasquez is THE NEWWWW champion at 125 lbs.
With tears in her eyes she spoke to John McCarthy (with the help of her translator) after the scores were read.
“I’m very excited to finally be the champion. I want to thank my team, my family, and my brother who I felt was with me tonight. My goal is to be a champion inside and outside the ring and carry it with honor. For me this is like a gold medal. This is like the gold medal I didn’t win in judo. During this pandemic I got depressed, I was doubting myself, but a friend gave me the positive words to reassure me. I appreciate his words and here I am now.”
The former champion also got to speak about what she could have done differently.
“I coulda woulda shoulda but at the end of the day she outperformed me. I didn’t find my groove, I wasn’t trying to force anything, her game plan was spot on. At the end of the day she’s the champion and she deserves it.”
On tap for the co-main event were Bantamweight fighters Magomed Magomedov (16-1) and Matheus Mattos (12-1-1). Mattos spent almost the entirety of the first round fending off takedown attempts, and for his efforts one of them sent him flying through the air, coming down directly on his head. Magomedov repeatedly broke down Mattos and made him spend a lot of energy trying to posture up on his hands to get to his feet, eating damage all the while to give Magomedov an opening 10-9.
The takedown game of @MagomedovTiger1 is strong!— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
The #Bellator254 co-main event is LIVE NOW on @CBSSportsNet in the U.S. and with @SkySports in the U.K.#USOHolidays #MMA #Bellator pic.twitter.com/6Cjd6Ea1gX
The second verse was like the first save for Mattos trying to stand up after Magomedov got the back and secured a body lock. Carrying around his weight for a minute or two eventually made Mattos drop back to the ground, but at least he managed to avoid getting caught in a rear naked choke standing. The third round was a wrestling clinic and Mattos had only one second on top right at the final bell. It was an easy fight to score and the judges returned a verdict of 30-26 and 30-27 X2. Via translator “The Tiger” Magomedov spoke to John McCarthy after the fight.
“I was really nervous to fight in a big promotion like this. I didn’t sleep for a couple of days, but I’m very happy and very thankful to Scott Coker and everyone who signed me to be here. Thank you very much for this. I don’t want to say names. I just want to say to everybody in Bellator the jungle has a new king.”
In a clash of Heavyweight titans, “The Swarm” Linton Vassell (19-8) met Ronny Markes (19-7).
Up next, @RonnyMarkes makes his long-awaited #Bellator debut as he faces Bellator veteran Linton Vassell.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
Tune in LIVE with @CBSSportsNet in the U.S and with @SkySports Mix in the U.K.#MMA #USOHolidays #Bellator254 pic.twitter.com/5c1Hz03NXG
The start of the fight was a bit sloppy, which commentary attributed to the fact Markes hadn’t fought at Heavyweight in over 1,000 days, but it was Vassell who slipped trying to throw a right hand. Markes rushed him into the cage as he got back up, but his takedown backfired and Vassell was on top for the rest of the first round. His ground and pound earned him a 10-9.
Things went from bad to worse for Markes when he got a takedown early in R2 and Vassell immediately swept to the top effortlessly. He methodically inched his way to full mount and once he got there it was only a matter of time before he postured up to unload heavy ground and pound. Yves Lavigne leaned in for a good look and waved it off at 3:37.
Linton Vassell picks up the W in round 2️⃣ at #Bellator254.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
The main card rolls on LIVE on @CBSSportsNet in the U.S. and with @Sky Sports Mix in the U.K. now!#Bellator #MMA #USOHolidays pic.twitter.com/JiIfWDaZ9T
Vassell spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the result was made official.
“I was a bit disappointed in my stand up. I wanted to land a lot more than he did. He took it to the ground and I reversed it, and my confidence was growing and growing. My teammates were saying ‘a good ten punches the ref will stop it’ and that’s what happened. I want that rematch with Valentin Moldavsky. We had that fight a couple of years ago but yeah that’s who I want.”
Also featured on the broadcast were rising Middleweights Romero Cotton (4-0) and Justin Sumter (7-3). Sumter tried to push Cotton to the outer circle of the Bellator cage to trade kicks, but just under a minute into the first round Cotton took him down and was in cruise control from there. After a failed attempt to throw his legs up around Cotton’s neck for a triangle choke, Cotton took his back and got a rear naked choke at 3:36 for the submission.
Round 1️⃣ win by submission, @RomeroCotton adds a 5️⃣th straight victory to his undefeated pro record.— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) December 11, 2020
We are LIVE NOW on @CBSSportsNet in the and with @SkySports Mix in the .#MMA #Bellator #Bellator254 pic.twitter.com/216tnheuQV
“Bad News” Cotton improved to 5-0 in the process. He spoke to John McCarthy afterward.
“First and foremost rest in heaven my cousin Brian Henderson Jr. All he wanted to do was go to Tokyo to see me fight and he didn’t get to do it. I knew I could just roll right through (Sumter) and get to the neck. I practice with beasts, monsters, you know what I’m saying? AKA. We’re deep. This is a walk in the park compared to the guys I practice with. I got my eye on myself. I’m still early in my career. Every fight I’m getting better and better.”
For complete Bellator 254 results and coverage click here.
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