Fight Facts: Bellator 227, Bellator 228

By: Jay Pettry
Oct 1, 2019

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Fight Facts is a breakdown of all 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 put on a doubleheader in Ireland and California with a few big fights for the home crowd and the other half of the featherweight grand prix’s opening round. Bellator 227 and Bellator 228 featured the organization’s 2,500th fight, the winningest fighter in company history picking up another win and a selection show you would have to see to believe.

Bellator 227

FOR IRELAND, BY IRELAND: Fourteen of the 18 bouts on this card contained fighters representing Ireland, and two pitted Irish fighters against one another. Of those 12 remaining fights, eight Irish competitors prevailed over their foreign counterparts.

WHAT’S A ‘STRABANIMAL’ ANYWAY?: By forcing Roman Salazar to tap in the first round, James Gallagher scored his fifth submission win inside the Bellator cage. Only six fighters have submitted more opponents in Bellator: Alexandre Bezerra, Goiti Yamauchi, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Marcin Held, Michael Chandler and Neiman Gracie, all with six each.

THROWING KNEES WITH VENOM: Michael Page dispatched Richard Kiely with a first-round flying knee, becoming the third fighter in Bellator history -- Brian Rogers and Adam Borics the first two -- to finish multiple opponents with a flying knee strike.

CHASING LIMA: Page picked up his eighth finish as a welterweight, one shy of the record held by Douglas Lima, with Lima earning that ninth by knocking out Page at Bellator 221 in May.

HIGHER THAN SOME MIGHT THINK: Taking a unanimous decision of Myles Jury, Benson Henderson lowered his finish rate to 50 percent by earning his 14th decision in 28 career wins. Twelve of his 16 wins inside Bellator and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have come on the scorecards.

SLEEPY SEAN: Richie Smullen put Sean Tobin to sleep with a first-round rear-naked choke, becoming the fifth featherweight in promotional history to render their opponent unconscious with a choke in the opening round. His is only the second by rear-naked choke, with the remaining three all via guillotine choke.

BULAID OUT: With a single second remaining in Round 1, Ilias Bulaid made his successful MMA debut by flattening Vitalic Maiboroda with a knee. Bulaid is the fifth fighter in promotional history to score a clean knockout with one second left in a round. Four of those five knockouts have come in the featherweight division, including this one.

SPLIT ’EM UP: Karl Moore and Philip Mulpeter defeated Lee Chadwick and Keith McCabe by split decision, respectively. Their two fights were the first ones of the year for Bellator where consecutive bouts were decided by split verdict. This last occurred at Bellator 212 in December.

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Bellator 228

AND MAURO WAS EXHAUSTED: In the middleweight division, Osman Diaz tapped out Andre Walker with a rear-naked choke at 3:05 of the opening round on the postliminary card. This was the 2,500th fight in Bellator history.

SPOILERS INCOMING: After the conclusion of the four featherweight grand prix bouts on the card, the organization put on a selection show for the quarterfinals. Facing off first will be A.J. McKee vs. Derek Campos in December. Next up, Adam Borics will take on Darrion Caldwell in January. In February, Daniel Weichel meets Emmanuel Sanchez, and finally, Patricio Freire defends his title against Pedro Carvalho in March. The winners of the first two bouts will collide, as will the winners of the latter two.

THEY KICKED THE CAT OUT OF THE CRADLE: Fighting on the same card together, both A.J. McKee and Antonio McKee won by knockout. This is the first time a father and son have both won on the same night in major MMA promotional history. While Haim Gozali and Aviv Gozali competed on Bellator 209 together, they did not both come out victorious.

A TRILOGY IS NOT SUPER NECESSARY: Capturing a split verdict over Lyoto Machida to even the score at 1-1, Gegard Mousasi won the first split decision of his 55-fight career.

PITBULLATOR: Freire dominated Juan Archuleta en route to his 18th win under the Bellator banner, extending his record for the most all-time.

ONE FREIRE OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST: With 18 wins and only four defeats as a Bellator fighter, Freire has the highest winning percentage (.818) of any with more than 15 fights in the promotion.

THE ONE TRUE FEATHERWEIGHT KING: With his third successful title defense at featherweight, Freire has now consecutively defended his belt more times in the division than any other fighter.

HOLDING ON TO THAT BELT LIKE A PITBULL: With three straight championship defenses, Freire ties Alexander Shlemenko, Rafael Carvalho, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Julia Budd for the second-longest title defense streak in company history. Only Ben Askren defended his welterweight throne longer (four defenses).

HE WANTED TO FIGHT EVERYONE: McKee starched Georgi Karakhanyan to advance in the featherweight tournament and lift his unbeaten record to 15-0. With the win, he extends his win streak as the longest in organizational history, with all 15 of his wins coming inside the Bellator cage.

100 PERCENT PURE, OLD-FASHIONED, HOMEGROWN PROSPECT: McKee earned his 10th finish, tying Lima for the second-most in company history. Only Chandler and Freire have more, with 11 each.

THE APPLE FELL FAR FROM THE TREE: Needing only eight seconds to demolish Karakhanyan, McKee earned the fourth-fastest knockout in promotional history. Hector Lombard, Michele Martignoni and Mike Kimbel each share the record with six-second knockouts.

DUTY HAS NO SWEETHEARTS: Getting finished in eight seconds by McKee, Karakhanyan suffered his eighth defeat as a Bellator fighter. This ties him with Saad Awad for the most losses in company history.

HARDY, JULATON TAKE NOTICE: Strawweight boxer Ava Knight made her MMA debut with a third-round knockout of Shannon Goughary, securing the finish with a punch to the body. Knight’s finish earned her the fifth knockout victory in Bellator women’s strawweight history.

I’VE BEEN IN THIS GAME A LONG TIME: Both Antonio McKee and William Sriyapai made their respective MMA debuts in October 1999 in the Los Angeles region, and both won by stoppage. No other fighter appearing on Bellator 228 had yet to make their pro debut back then, and at the time, McKee’s son, A.J., was 4 years old.

HONOR THY FATHER: The last time Antonio McKee competed was November 2014, and his son would make his professional debut less than five months later.

SENIOR CIRCUIT WARRIORS: With a combined age of 96 years, the bout between McKee and Sriyapai is not the oldest in Bellator history. In comparison, when Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock met for the third time at Bellator 149 in 2016, the elder statesmen totaled 101 years on the Earth.

IS IT CHRISTMAS?: In scoring his ninth stoppage victory in 30 fights, “Mandingo” lifted his finish rate to 30 percent by knocking out Sriyapai.

PLEASE STOP OVERTRAINING: In a bout he was likely up on the scorecards, Mike Jasper suffered an ankle injury to award Johnny Cisneros the technical knockout victory. Jasper is the sixth fighter in 2019 to be injured during a Bellator bout, far more than any other previous year in Bellator history. The next most was in 2014, when three fighters went down due to injuries in fights.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Coming into Bellator 227 and 228, three fighters had never won by decision (Frans Mlambo, Danni Neilan and A.J. Agazarm), six fighters had never been knocked out and another six had never been submitted.

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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