Raufeon Stots earned his spot in Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix finals on Friday night, overcoming Danny Sabatello in a five-round grudge match to walk away with a split decision victory.
Stots’ victory headlined Bellator 289 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, USA.
Stots walked away with the decision win after a contest that saw damage compete against control.
Sabatello was often focused on gaining dominant positions in the fight through takedowns. Large portions of the fight saw Sabatello put Stots against the cage or take him to the canvas. However, apart from a few instances, Sabatello often didn’t do much when in these positions.
Stots remained competitive while Sabatlelo was on the attack. While he would get taken down by Sabatello, he was often quick to escape a position. When the fight was on the feet, Stots was the significantly more active striker.
Stots also succeeded with his own control time on the ground during the fight, allowing him to gain an advantage in some rounds.
The close result of the fight enraged Sabatello afterward, causing him to storm out of the cage immediately. Acknowledging this, Stots led a chant singing goodbye to Sabatello.
The build-up to this fight focused heavily on a personal rivalry between Stots and Sabatello. Their personalities clashed in numerous media appearances in the months leading up to the bout, causing the fight to gain the reputation as a grudge match.
Stots has now earned seven wins since joining Bellator in 2019. He became the promotion’s interim bantamweight champion in his quarter-final bout for the tournament, stopping Juan Archuleta with a head kick.
Stots will now go on to the finals of the bantamweight tournament to face Patchy Mix, who secured his grand final spot earlier on Friday evening.
Along with his advancement in the tournament, Friday marked Stots’ first time successfully defending his 135-pound belt.
Sabatello experienced his first Bellator defeat on this card. He had a trio of victories previously, including a unanimous decision victory over Leandro Higo in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Carmouche Stops Velasquez For The Second Time
Liz Carmouche put an end to her rivalry with Juliana Velasquez in Friday’s co-main event, earning a second-round armbar submission to defend her Bellator Flyweight Championship for the first time.
Carmouche earned top control in the second round of the fight, marking the first step toward her finishing sequence. She moved into a full mount position on the ground, where she was able to apply an armbar hold. After adjusting the hold significantly, a tap eventually came from Velasquez to end the fight.
The result this weekend ended a somewhat controversial rivalry between the two.
Carmouche dethroned previously undefeated Velasquez in April with a stoppage victory late in the fourth round. This fight was debated heavily afterward, as many thought the referee ended the fight too early. Velasquez believed this, and Carmouche frequently denied it.
Carmouche noted afterward that she now has a win that should be entirely undeniable.
“She tapped and [her arm] popped, so there’s no doubts anywhere,” said Carmouche in her post-fight interview.
Carmouche has picked up five wins since moving to Bellator from the UFC. Four of her victories in the promotion have come via some form of stoppage.
Mix Submits Magomedov To Secure Second Chance Gaining A Championship
Patchy Mix became the first fighter to secure a spot in the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix finals this Friday, scoring a quick submission victory against fellow contender Magomed Magomedov.
Mix caught Magomedov in the second round with a guillotine choke. He started working for this choke while on his back after Magomedov landed a takedown. Mix adjusted the choke while trapping the right leg of Magomedov, making it harder for him to escape. This submission remained applied until the referee noticed that Magomedov went unconscious, and stopped the fight from continuing.
Mix now has a chance to become the interim Bellator Bantamweight Champion and earn a grand prize of $1 million in 2023.
The 29-year-old already beat a former champion earlier this year, advancing past the quarter-finals with a five-round unanimous decision victory over Kyoji Horiguchi.
Friday marked Mix’s fourth consecutive win in Bellator. His sole pro loss was a defeat to Juan Archuleta in a 2020 title fight.
Magomedov advanced past the first stage of the tournament with a guillotine choke victory over UFC alum Enrique Barzola in June.
Undefeated Rosta Overcomes Adams
Undefeated middleweight Dalton Rosta added the eighth win to his record on Friday’s main card, going the distance against Anthony Adams for a unanimous decision victory.
Rosta had a higher output of strikes during the fight and was able to put together ground control time as well. Adams provided a solid challenge for him, responding with his own kicks on the outside and
Rosta’s best moment arguably came in the closing moments of the three-round fight. Rosta caught Adams off guard when exiting a ground position, unloading with punches while returning to his feet. He rocked Adams with a few punches during this exchange, even knocking him down right a right hook.
Adams was able to guard himself on the ground after suffering a knockdown, enduring Rosta’s attack for the remaining seconds of the fight.
Rosta has fought exclusively in the Bellator cage since debuting in 2019. He earned two previous wins earlier this year, stopping Romero Cotton and beating Duane Johnson on scorecards.
Adams was coming off an upset win in his Bellator debut, beating Khalid Murtazaliev in September 2021.
The Rest of the Card
The prelims wrapped up with an upset, as Ilara Joanne beat former title challenger Denise Kielholtz via split decision. The Bellator broadcast contested this decision, with former referee John McCarthy claiming that Kielholtz was the significantly more successful fighter throughout.
Jaleel Willis returned to the win column on Friday night, using his sharp striking to beat Kyle Crutchmer via unanimous decision.
Cody Law failed to bounce back from his sole pro loss, suffering a split decision defeat to returning name Cris Lencioni. When including fights outside of Bellator, Lencioni finishes his 2022 with three wins and one loss.
Christian Echols handed former NCAA Division I wrestler Patrick Downey his first MMA loss, knocking him out in the first round with a brutal uppercut.
Kai Kamaka III’s dominant striking performance against Kevin Boehm culminated in the third round, putting him away with ground and pound shots. The UFC alum has now earned two wins since joining the Bellator roster last year.
Michael Lombardo picked up his first Bellator win with an explosive stoppage, catching Mark Lemminger late in the first round with a clean left hook.
Cass Bell had the better moments in a ground-control heavy fight against Jared Scoggins, earning him a tight split decision in the end. Bell snapped a two-fight skid with the result.
Main Card (9:00PM EST) (Showtime)
Bout 11: Raufeon Stots def. Danny Sabatello via Decision, Split (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout)
Bout 10: Liz Carmouche def. Juliana Velasquez via Submission, Armbar (RD 2, 4:24) (Bellator Flyweight Championship)
Bout 9: Patchy Mix def. Magomed Magomedov via Submission, Guillotine Choke (RD 2, 2:39) (Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Bout)
Bout 8: Dalton Rosta def. Anthony Adams via Decision, Unanimous
Preliminary Card (5:30PM EST) (Youtube)
Bout 7: Ilara Joanne def. Denise Kielholtz via Decision, Split
Bout 6: Jaleel Willis def. Kyle Crutchmer via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 5: Cris Lencioni def. Cody Law via Decision, Split
Bout 4: Christian Echols def. Patrick Downey via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:27)
Bout 3: Kai Kamaka III def. Kevin Boehm via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 2:23)
Bout 2: Michael Lombardo def. Mark Lemminger via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:23)
Bout 1: Cass Bell def. Jared Scoggins via Decision, Split