Fight Facts: Bellator 222

By: Jay Pettry
Jun 17, 2019

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Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and cage curiosities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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Bellator MMA on Friday returned to Madison Square Garden in New York with a marathon card full of promising prospects and grizzled veterans. Bellator 222 featured a few flying knees, an incredibly rare two-company champion and the end of “The Bad Guy” era.

HIGH-FLYING ATTRACTION: Bellator 222 joined Bellator 51 as the only other event in company history to feature multiple flying knee knockouts. One of the fighters to earn such a knockout at Bellator 51 in 2011 was Eduardo Dantas.

HAVE ARM, WILL BAR: This event became the ninth in promotional history to ever have multiple fighters perform armbar submissions. No event has ever had three in one night.

THREE SEVENS: Rory MacDonald successfully defended his 170-pound belt and advanced to the Bellator welterweight grand prix final by beating Neiman Gracie by decision. Throughout MacDonald’s 21 career wins, he holds seven victories by knockout, another seven by submission and seven more by decision.

FIRST OF HIS NAME: Gracie fought for the Bellator welterweight crown and in doing so became the first fighter using his family’s name to compete for a major MMA title since Royce Gracie fought Ken Shamrock to a draw in a battle for the UFC superfight championship at UFC 5 in 1995. Gracies have competed for gold in smaller organizations. Rolles Gracie fought Karol Bedorf for the KSW heavyweight championship at KSW 24 in 2014 and lost by first round knockout, while Roger Gracie won the One Championship cruiserweight belt when he tapped Michael Pasternak at One Championship 42 in 2016.

SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE BAD GUY: Chael Sonnen retired following his loss to Lyoto Machida in the co-main event, leaving the sport after a career that spanned 22-plus years and 48 fights. While Sonnen never won a belt in a major organization despite four attempts in the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting, he did defeat then-WEC champion Paulo Filho in 2008, with the latter missing weight by seven pounds before their prospective title fight. Sonnen also defeated Mauricio Rua, Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping and Nate Marquardt, among others.

IN THE MIX: Patrick Mix scored his 11th win in 11 fights by tapping Ricky Bandejas with a rear-naked choke in 66 seconds, the third-fastest submission in Bellator bantamweight divisional history.

DOWN GOES ‘DUDU’: Juan Archuleta knocked out Dantas with one punch with a one second remaining in Round 2. The win extended Archuleta’s winning streak to 18 fights, a run that dates back to his March 2015 submission loss to Andres Ponce in the World Series of Fighting. The last time “The Spaniard” lost, 18 of the 36 fighters who competed at Bellator 222 had not yet made their professional MMA debuts.

HORIGOLDEN: Kyoji Horiguchi became the second fighter in major promotional history to simultaneously hold belts with two different organizations, as he defended his Rizin Fighting Federation bantamweight strap against Darrion Caldwell at Rizin 14 before coming to Bellator to capture Caldwell’s bantamweight title. Alistair Overeem was the first fighter to accomplish the feat, as he captured the captured the Dream heavyweight throne as Strikeforce champion in 2010.

CERTAINLY ISN’T BORING: Adam Borics remained undefeated as a professional, earning his 13th career win in as many outings when he flattened Aaron Pico with a flying knee and follow-up punches.

25 TO LIFE: The 25-year-old Borics became the second fighter in Bellator history to ever knock out more than one opponent with a flying knee, joining Brian Rogers. “The Kid” took out Teodor Nikolov with the maneuver at Bellator 196 in 2018.

FROM MCKEE TO JACKSON: After utilizing a wrestling-heavy attack to win the first round, Pico reached the second period for the first time in his seven-fight career.

BACK TO RIZIN, RENA: Rena Kubota opted not to tap and went to sleep from Lindsey VanZandt’s rear-naked choke; it was VanZandt’s first submission as a pro. The technical submission was the fourth performed by a female fighter in Bellator history.

LIVED TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY MANY TIMES: In tapping to a triangle choke from Haim Gozali, Gustavo Wurlitzer suffered his 19th defeat by submission. Coming into this event, he held more losses by submission than all eight fighters competing before him on the card held in total combined losses (11).

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Coming into Bellator 222, Neiman Gracie had never been defeated (nine fights), Caldwell had never lost on the scorecards (15 fights) and Kubota had never competed outside of Japan (10 fights).

MAYBE THEY CANCELLED OUT?: Dillon Danis defied the “Eminem Curse” and the “Drake Curse” when he tapped Max Humphrey in the first round with an armbar. Danis recently spent time with Drake and walked out to Eminem’s “Without Me.”

Sherdog contributing editor Jay Pettry is an attorney and a statistician. Writing about MMA since he started studying the “Eminem Curse” in 2012 and working for Vice Sports and Combat Docket along the way, he put together many fight result and entrance music databases to better study the sport. You can find him on twitter at @jaypettry.

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