Bellator will close out their 2020 calendar on Thursday with a flyweight championship bout between Ilima-Lei Macfarlane against Juliana Velasquez from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for live coverage of the show.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EST) (Youtube)
Main Card (10:00PM EST) (CBS Sports Network)
Bout 8: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (11-0) vs. Juliana Velasquez (10-0) (Bellator Flyweight Championship)
Velasquez Takes Decision Over Macfarlane, Claims Bellator Flyweight Belt
Juliana Velasquez took a unanimous decision over Ilima-Lei Macfarlane to become the new Bellator Flyweight Champion on Thursday. The win saw Velasquez extend her undefeated record while taking Macfarlane’s previously unblemished 11-fight streak.
Velasquez had success in the early rounds of the fight by having the better striking on the feet. Her best shot in the fight was a flying knee, which landed before the second round concluded.
Macfarlane’s best round was the fourth, where she scored a takedown then held half guard for a few minutes.
Velasquez scored a takedown of her own in the final round, keeping control over Macfarlane in half guard afterwards.
“Her goal now is not only to be a champion in the way she performs but also outside of the cage,” said Velasquez’s translator during a passionate post-fight interview.
Macfarlane defended her belt four times in her reign from 2018 to 2020. Her fight on Thursday was her first fight in nearly a year, with her previous fight being a win over Kate Jackson in late 2019.
Velasquez entered the fight after 10 wins as a pro, including five of which happened in Bellator. Velasquez’s last win was on the same card as Macfarlane’s previous fight, where she defeated Bruna Ellen via decision.
Bout 7: Magomed Magomedov (16-1) vs. Matheus Mattos (12-1-1) (Bantamweight)
Magomedov Wins Bellator Debut, Sweeping Scorecards Against Mattos
Magomed Magomedov won his Bellator debut in the co-main event, defeating Matheus Mattos via unanimous decision after a three-round smothering performance.
Constant takedowns and control in the grappling exchanges from Magomedov allowed him to take all three rounds on scorecards.
The fight was the first Bellator fight from both fighters after stints in ACB.
Magomedov’s most notable win came in 2016, where he defeated now-UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan (Yan later avenged the loss in 2017, giving Magomedov his sole loss as a pro).
Bout 6: Linton Vassell (20-8) vs. Ronny Markes (19-7) (Heavyweight)
Vassell Stops Markes With Ground and Pound
Linton Vassell’s work on the ground allowed him to get a second round stoppage win against Ronny Markes on Thursday, defeating him with ground and pound.
Vassell’s win with strikes came after minutes of him in control on the ground.
Vassell called for a rematch against Valentin Moldavsky after his win.
The fight was Markes’ debut after a four-fight stint in PFL from 2018 to 2019.
Markes had been out of action for over a year, as previous bookings fell through due to COVID-19 complications and opponents being pulled from bouts.
Vassell snapped a three-fight losing streak in November of 2019, defeating Sergei Kharitonov in the second round with strikes.
Bout 5: Romero Cotton (4-0) vs. Justin Sumter (7-3) (Middleweight)
Cotton Wins In Return, Catches Sumter With Rear Naked Choke
Romero Cotton earned his first win of 2020 to start the main card, catching Justin Sumter in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Cotton found the choke late in the round only moments after taking the back of Sumter.
Cotton dedicated his fight to his cousin Brian Henderson Jr. who passed away recently.
“All he wanted to do was see me in Tokyo and fight … He was in there with me tonight,” said Cotton in his post-fight interview.
A fight between Cotton and Sumter was scheduled to happen in March before COVID-19 forced Bellator to cancel events.
Cotton’s four previous wins all took place in Bellator. His last fight was in November of 2019, where an injury unceremoniously took Jason Perrotta out of the fight in the third minute.
Sumter won his Bellator debut in February of 2019, defeating Reginaldo Felix. He has since lost a fight to Maki Pitolo on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Bout 4: Kemran Lachinov (10-2) vs. Shamil Nikaev (9-0) (Welterweight)
Nikaev Wins Bellator Debut Against Lachinov
Shamil Nikaev won his Bellator debut on Thursday, defeating Kemran Lachinov and ending his eight-fight win streak.
Nikaev’s fast pace of takedowns was able to give him the first two rounds of the fight.
Fatigue set in late for Nikaev, allowing Lachinov to tee off on him with numerous punches in the final round.
Undefeated with 10 wins now, Nikaev entered the fight on Thursday after a career in ACB.
Lachinov’s win streak before Thursday included four wins in Bellator. His previous fight was a win over Kyle Crutchmer.
Bout 3: Maurice Jackson (7-2) vs. Grant Neal (4-0) (Light Heavyweight)
Neal Slips In Rear Naked Choke To Remain Undefeated
Grant Neal remained undefeated on the prelims, catching Maurice Jackson in the second round with a rear naked choke.
The submission win came after minutes of Neal looking for the choke and throwing punches from the back of Jackson.
Neal had success earlier in the fight, scoring takedowns and controlling Jackson in clinches.
Neal asked to become the first Bass Pro Shops sponsored MMA fighter after his win.
The win was Neal’s fourth win in Bellator in a 13-month period. His last fight before Thursday was a decision win against Hamza Salim.
Thursday’s fight was Jackson’s first since 2018. His previous fight was a win over former UFC fighter Melvin Guillard.
Bout 2: Kenny Champion (2-0) vs. Cody Law (1-0) (Featherweight)
Law Picks Up Second Win, Stops Champion In The Third Round
Cody Law earned his second pro victory on the prelims, stopping Kenny Champion with ground and pound after a very one-sided performance.
The finish came in the final minute of action, as Law put together dozens of strikes on the ground that went unanswered. The referee eventually stopped the fight after Champion continued to consume strikes.
Law was critical of his performance despite controlling Champion throughout.
“A little bit sloppy tonight … I got almost three rounds of experience,” said Law in his post-fight interview.
Law dominated Champion on the ground throughout the second round, putting together a high volume of strikes and looking for an arm triangle choke.
Champion’s best round was the first, where he landed some punches before being taken down.
Law won his pro debut in October, defeating Orlando Ortega with a d’arce choke.
Champion had two quick wins on the regional scene before his debut on Thursday. With both of his prior fights ending quickly, Thursday was the first time he fought for more than two minutes as a pro.
Franklin and Garrett Removed From Lineup
A heavyweight fight between Davion Franklin and Anthony Garrett has been removed from the main card, per a report from Nolan King of MMA Junkie. Per the report, Garrett was not cleared the compete.
A fight between Romero Cotton and Justin Sumter was bumped to the main card due to the change.
Bout 1: Robson Gracie Jr. (3-0) vs. Billy Goff (2-2) (Welterweight)
Goff Stops Gives Gracie Jr. His First Loss
Billy Goff handed Robson Gracie Jr. his first loss as a pro on the prelims, stopping him in the second round with strikes. After wobbling Gracie Jr. with a right hand, he put together a series of punches and elbows that made the referee stop the fight.
Gracie Jr. struggled to get the fight to the ground throughout the fight, often pulling guard but not taking Goff down.
“I knew he wanted to submit me,” said Goff in his post-fight interview.
Gracie Jr. had three consecutive stoppage victories in Bellator before his loss on Friday.
Goff came into the fight after two-straight losses on the regional scene. His last win was in Bellator, defeating Jonathon Pico in 2019.