Bellator 222 ‘MacDonald vs. Gracie’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

By: Ben Duffy
Jun 14, 2019
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Phil Hawes vs. Michael Wilcox

Round 1

Middleweights Phil Hawes (4-2) and Michael Wilcox (6-3) face off in what will be the promotional debut for both men. Todd Anderson is the third man in the cage. They exchange strikes in the center of the cage for only a few seconds before Wilcox drops for a single-leg, which Hawes shucks off. 90 seconds in, neither man has done much damage, when Hawes drops Wilcox with a left hook. Hawes gives chase and lays on punches and hammerfists, but Wilcox escapes. Shortly afterwards, Hawes drops Wilcox with another punch off a blown single-leg and this time, he moves to mount, then side control, then lets Wilcox up. Hawes promptly drills Wilcox yet again, this time with a right hook, and is all over him on the canvas once more. Under two minutes left and Hawes is in mount again. Wilcox is surviving underneath, controlling Hawes’ posture, but offering nothing in the way of an escape attempt. Hawes is just grinding on top, throwing short strikes, and the round ends that way. Dominant round by Phil Hawes.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Hawes
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Hawes
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Hawes

Wilcox has a grotesque hematoma over his left eye after the first round. Referee Anderson waves the fight off and, after a few minutes of deliberation and consulting the video to determine whether the injury was caused by an inadvertent head butt or a legal strike, this one will go down as a TKO.

The Official Result

Phil Hawes def. Michael Wilcox at 5:00 of R1 via TKO (Doctor Stoppage)

Marcus Surin vs. Nekruz Mirkhojaev

Round 1

Mirkhojaev (4-2) and Surin (5-1) prepare to do battle at lightweight, with referee Kevin MacDonald overseeing the proceedings. The two exchange jabs for a moment, then Mirkhojaev steps inside, elevates Surin and slams him to the canvas. Mirkhojaev takes Surin’s back as Surin stands. Mirkhojaev threatens with a neck crank, then an armbar, all while Surin is standing. Surin drops to his back, and escapes a moment later. Mirkhojaev immediately drops for another takedown, but Surin defends. Halfway through the round, Mirkhojaev is pressing Surin against the fence, trying for the takedown. They reset in the middle of the cage and exchange single punches and low kicks. From the clinch, Mirkojaev uses a whizzer to force Surin to his knees, but he pops back up. With under a minute left, it’s Surin who lands on top on a scramble. He moves to mount, then side control. Mirkhojaev gets to his feet, but Surin has a front headlock. Mirkhojaev escapes the headlock at the 10-second clapper, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Mirkhojaev
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Surin
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Surin

Round 2

The lightweights exchange a few jabs, then Surin runs Mirkhojaev into the fence. Mirkhojaev reverses and drops to Surin’s waist, working for the takedown. He finally gets Surin down to his seat, but Surin gets back up right away. Two minutes in, it’s still Mirkhojaev working for the takedown against the fence, while Surin defends -- and expends much less energy -- with a wide-leg and an overhook. Halfway in, Mirkhojaev gets his man down, but Surin pops back up and punishes him with punches. Under two minutes left and Surin has Mirkhojaev against the fence, throwing knees and punches from the clinch. Mirkhojaev comes off the fence and dumps Surin with a hip throw, but Surin reverses quickly and moves to mount. With a minute left, Mirkhojaev is trying to keep Surin for posturing up, but Surin is throwing elbows and punches from the top. 10 seconds left and Mirkhojaev isn’t going anywhere. Surin is still peppering him with shots at the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Surin
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Surin
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Surin

Round 3

An apparently exhausted Mirkhojaev has to be cajoled off his stool by referee MacDonald to start the final round. Surin forces a clinch and pushes Mirkhojaev to the fence. A minute in, they are still jockeying against the fence. It’s nearly halfway into the round before they break the clinch, and Mirkhojaev is quick to clinch again, and this time it’s the Tajik fighter rushing Surin to the fence. Mirkhojaev tries to haul Surin down with a waistlock, while Surin whacks him with standing elbows. Out of nowhere, Mirkhojaev explodes with a throw, bringing Surin to the canvas with a bang, but Surin immediately hits a switch. Mirkhojaev contains him and ends up in Surin’s guard with under a minute left. Surin uses a single butterfly hook to threaten a sweep, then resumes full guard. The round, and fight, end.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Mirkhojaev (29-28 Mirkhojaev)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Mirkhojaev (29-28 Surin)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Mirkhojaev (29-28 Surin)

The Official Result

Marcus Surin def. Nekruz Mirkhojaev via Split Decision (30-27, 27-29, 29-27)

Robson Gracie Jr. vs. Oscar Vera

Round 1

We have our first in-cage Gracie sighting of the evening, as the 1-0 “Robsinho” meets the debuting Oscar Vera in a welterweight match. Blake Grice is the referee. Vera sets up in southpaw stance, Gracie in orthodox, and they stalk warily. In the first minute, it’s Gracie getting through with a couple of jabs and straights. Gracie rushes in behind punches and drops for a takedown, which Vera defends. Gracie rolls to his back and Vera disengages. Gracie stays on his back for a moment, but Vera isn’t taking the bait. Halfway into the round, Vera has Gracie clinched against the fence. Gracie gets a bodylock and trips Vera to the ground. He slices through Vera’s guard into mount instantly. As Vera squirms toward the fence, Gracie takes an arm, pivots into a textbook armbar and Vera is tapping frantically. Easy night’s work for Robson Gracie Jr.

The Official Result

Robson Gracie Jr. def. Oscar Vera at 3:15 of R1 via Submission (Armbar)

Mike Kimbel vs. Sebastian Ruiz

Round 1

The only fighter out of 36 to miss weight for Bellator 222, Mike Kimbel (2-1), faces Sebastian Ruiz (2-2) in a bantamweight preliminary bout, with Mike Beltran the referee on duty. Both men set up in orthodox stance and it’s Kimbel the aggressor, throwing so fast and hard that he slips in the opening seconds. He regains his feet, and tags Ruiz with a flurry of punches that stagger him. Kimbel takes him to the fence, looking to capitalize, but Ruiz recovers, reverses him against the fence and then drills Kimbel with a knee to the pills. Kimbel gets a moment to recover and Ruiz gets a stern warning in Spanish from Beltran. They reset and are back to kickboxing at range. Halfway into the round, Kimbel is still the aggressor, throwing long jabs and stinging leg kicks as Ruiz gives ground. Ruiz is answering with low kicks of his own. Ruiz catches the advancing Kimbel with a counter right hook that smacks loudly in the quiet arena. Ruiz whiffs with another big right, then smacks Kimbel with a kick to the body. With under 30 seconds left, Kimbel shoots a well-timed double and plows Ruiz to the canvas. He flurries with strikes, but time runs out.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel

Round 2

Round 2 opens with more of the same, as Kimbel stalks forward and Ruiz slides laterally while giving ground. Both men are throwing low kicks and jabs. Ruiz gets Kimbel to circle into a left high kick, then jumps in with a straight right. Ruiz catches Kimbel with another low blow, this time a kick. They restart in moments, and they’re back to circling and kicking. Ruiz lands an outside leg kick that stumbles Kimbel momentarily. Seconds later, Kimbel makes his own debut entry in the ball-shot derby. Referee Beltran makes the bantamweights shake hands before restarting. Ruiz, still looking to land the big right hand on the circling Kimbel, whiffs on a huge one. 30 seconds left and it’s more tense distance striking. With 10 seconds left, Kimbel says something taunting and grabs his cup, which seems like a very risky choice in light of how this fight has gone so far. The round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Ruiz
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel

Round 3

Kimbel is the pursuer once again in the early going, with Ruiz content to throw kicks to Kimbel’s lead leg and several more big overhand rights that miss by a mile. Kimbel splits Ruiz’s high guard with a lightning-fast straight right. That one hurt, and Ruiz’s nose is reddened badly. Ruiz is standing in there, but isn’t offering much other than telegraphed rights that Kimbel now appears to have timed. Two minutes left and Ruiz is barely throwing anything back. The nose appears to be bothering him quite a bit. Kimbel is giving chase, feinting and throwing long jabs. In the final 30 seconds, Kimbel throws a hard one-two, then defends a takedown attempt at the horn.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel (29-28 Kimbel)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel (30-27 Kimbel)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Kimbel (30-27 Kimbel)

The Official Result

Mike Kimbel def. Sebastian Ruiz via Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)

Haim Gozali vs. Gustavo Wurlitzer

Round 1

A 175-pound catchweight bout is next, with Haim Gozali (10-6) of Israel taking on Brazilian Gustavo Wurlitzer (22-22). Referee Dan Miragliotta makes his first appearance of the evening. An abortive capoeira kick by Wurlitzer is the first interesting action. Just over a minute in, Gozali gives up a takedown and immediately wraps Wurlitzer in his guard. Gozali grapevines both of Wurlitzer’s legs from the bottom. Halfway through the round, Gozali goes from butterfly guard to a high closed guard and starts looking for an arm. He gets one, and as Wurlitzer tries to extricate himself, Gozali slaps on a triangle. It’s tight, and Gozali smacks Wurlitzer around with elbows while tightening it further and possibly still looking to go back to the armbar. Gozali makes up his mind, cinches the triangle choke and Wurlitzer is tapping immediately. Very dominant work on the ground by the “Israeli Batman.”

The Official Result

Haim Gozali def. Gustavo Wurlitzer at 4:02 of R1 via Submission (Triangle Choke)

Rena Kubota vs. Lindsey VanZandt

Round 1

Lindsey VanZandt (5-1) prepares to welcome the 8-2 Rena Kubota, on loan from Rizin FF, to the Bellator cage. This is at a 112-pound catchweight, in between the 115-pound strawweight division and the 49-kilogram (107.8 pound) super atomweight limit under which Kubota usually competes. Kubota tags VanZandt with a snappy straight right in the opening seconds. Kubota trips VanZandt to the canvas, but VanZandt pops right back up. A little over two minutes in, Kubota catches VanZandt dropping for a takedown and nails her with a knee, but VanZandt finishes the takedown anyway. After a brief scramble, VanZandt ends up on Kubota’s back and gets her hooks in. VanZandt slaps on a rear-naked choke, and calmly adjusts it as Kubota squirms. Kubota reddens, goes slack and takes a nap. Wicked stuff from Lindsey VanZandt.

The Official Result

Lindsey VanZandt def. Rena Kubota at 4:04 of R1 via Technical Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)

Valerie Loureda vs. Larkyn Dasch

Round 1

Karate and Instagram star Valerie Loureda (1-0) takes on the 0-1 Larkyn Dasch in a flyweight prelim showcase. Dasch grabs Loureda’s arm off of a punch and doesn’t want to let go. Loureda extracts her arm after a brief struggle and it’s Dasch closing ground quickly, clearly looking to make this an ugly affair. Loureda tags Dasch with a hard body kick that stuns her. Dasch recovers and goes back on the chase. Loureda nails her with another kick. Dasch gets a hand on her off another kick and drags her to the canvas, landing in half-guard, but Loureda escapes to her feet. Two minutes left and Dasch is still game, coming straight forward and looking to throw punches and get inside Loureda’s kicking range. Loureda throws a spinning back kick at the one-minute mark that glances. Dasch dashes in and lands a left hook. At the 15-second mark, Loureda explodes, throwing a flurry of kicks and punches, but Dasch stands in there and throws back. The bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Loureda
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Loureda
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Loureda

Round 2

Dasch is still the aggressor to open the second round, coming forward on Loureda, if not quite as frantically. Loureda is circling and looking to throw counter right hands. Loureda throws a left jab, then another. 90 seconds in, Loureda throws her first serious body kick of the round. Dasch throws a lead right hand that lands squarely on Loureda’s face. With half the round gone, Dasch is marching forward, Loureda still circling out and giving ground. The volume of strikes thrown has definitely fallen off. Loureda throws a 360-degree spinning back kick, then a right body kick. Dasch stumbles back and Loureda swarms, but Dasch once again stands in there and throws back. At the clapper, Loureda throws a head kick that lands, stumbling Dasch. Loureda runs in with hooks, throws a knee that lands on Dasch’s chin, but Dasch retaliates with punches, including one that knocks Loureda back, off balance rather than hurt. Dasch gets in the last word with a punch that lands a hair after the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Loureda
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Loureda
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Loureda

Round 3

Dasch wades forward. Loureda circles, pot-shotting Dasch with a jab, then a straight right. Dasch is throwing next to nothing, stuck at the end of Loureda’s kicking range. Loureda is giving ground by the mile, but is landing over and over again, and may not have taken a single strike through two minutes. Halfway through the round, Loureda stands her ground and tags Dasch with a body kick, then resumes circling. A minute left, and Loureda begins uncorking some of her more exotic kicks. She throws another spinning back kick, then a tornado kick. At the clapper, Loureda gets aggressive once again, throwing kicks and punches, and is knocked off-balance by a punch from Dasch. She tumbles backwards, the pursuing Dasch landing on her and looking to swarm as the round runs out.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Loureda (30-27 Loureda)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Dasch (29-28 Loureda)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Dasch (29-28 Loureda)

The Official Result

Valerie Loureda def. Larkyn Dasch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Aaron Pico vs. Adam Borics

Round 1

Onetime uber-prospect Aaron Pico (4-2) attempts to right the ship against the 12-0 Adam Borics of Hungary in a featherweight showdown, with Dan Miragliotta drawing referee detail. Pico drops for a single-leg, switches to a double, and runs Borics to the fence. Pico pulls the legs out from under Borics, getting him to his seat at the base of the fence, but Borics gets back to his feet. Pico gets under Borics’ hips and elevates him over his shoulder. As he goes to slam him, Borics grabs a front headlock, but Pico pops his head out as he takes him down. Borics gets his hip out and escapes, and Pico is immediately back on him, shooting a long double-leg and scooping him up for a takedown. Borics scrambles and looks to escape again, but Pico is solid on top and looking to throw punches. Borics squirms to the fence and escapes. They exchange a few strikes before the clapper. A frenetic first round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Pico
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Pico
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Pico

Round 2

Pico shoots another double immediately, plowing Borics to the ground in the middle of the cage. Pico sets up in Borics’ full guard. Pico postures up and Borics throws an upkick that glances. Borics scambles up to his feet and Pico wastes no time in taking him down again. Pico has Borics’ waist wrapped at the base of the fence, his legs tying up Borics’ legs. Pico is suffocating the Hungarian, switching angles against the fence but keeping constant weight on him. Pico finally lets him up with 90 seconds left. Pico drops for another takedown, but this time Borics is onto him, launching a flying knee that nails Pico. Pico drops like a sack of rocks and Borics is all over him! Referee Miragliotta is watching closely as Borics swarms with hammerfists and waves the fight off. Sensational knockout by Borics, who moves to 13-0.

The Official Result

Adam Borics def. Aaron Pico at 3:55 of R1 via TKO (Flying Knee and Punches)

Heather Hardy vs. Taylor Turner

Round 1

Hardy (2-1) takes on the 3-5 Turner in a 128-pound catchweight bout. Turner gets hold of Hardy and hauls her to the ground with a trip takedown in the opening moments. Hardy uses the fence to stand back up, but Turner stays glued to her and dumps her back to the ground. Turner passes to mount and throws punches. They don’t look incredibly hard, but they’re enough to get Hardy to turn to her side and Turner takes her back. Turner has an arm under the chin, but rather than going for the choke, she uses the other hand to punch Hardy in the side of the head. Hardy squirms, turns to her side and Turner goes back to mount. 90 seconds left and Turner is just pelting Hardy with punches from top position. They aren’t doing a ton of damage, but referee Grice warns Hardy to do something. She does nothing, and Grice waves the fight off a few seconds later. Complete domination by Taylor Turner.

The Official Result

Taylor Turner def. Heather Hardy at 3:53 of R1 via TKO (Punches)

John Beneduce vs. Kenny Rivera

Round 1

John Beneduce (2-2) and Kenny Rivera (2-1) kick off their featherweight contest with Mike Beltran drawing referee duty. Beneduce rushes in as Rivera kicks and drives him in to the fence. Beneduce is looking for the takedown, and after a brief struggle, secures it. Beneduce is in Rivera’s full guard at the base of the fence, throwing short punches to Rivera’s ribs. Rivera squirms to his feet as Beneduce postures up. There’s a brief break for an inadvertent low blow by Rivera, and after the break, Beneduce quickly hauls Rivera back to the canvas. Two minutes left and Beneduce is in Rivera’s half guard. Beneduce passes smoothly to side control and pins the near arm, landing several unblocked strikes before Rivera bridges and bucks him off. Beneduce complains to the referee for not stopping the fight and Rivera escapes. This time it’s Rivera taking Beneduce down. Beneduce reverses and, with 10 seconds left, goes for a heel hook. He can’t secure it before the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce

Round 2

They clinch against the fence and Beneduce is looking for the takedown. Rivera lands a knee to the cup. Beltran breaks them up, gives Beneduce a moment to recover, then puts them back in the clinch against the fence. Two minutes in, Beneduce sucks Rivera’s legs out from under him and drags him to his seat against the fence. Beneduce is in Rivera’s guard. Rivera escapes, then reverses as Beneduce tries to take the back, and now it’s Rivera on top, throwing punches and hammerfists. With 90 seconds left, Beneduce uses a butterfly hook to sweep all the way to top. Beneduce traps Rivera’s arm in a near-crucifix and starts dropping punches. Rivera sweeps to top position, then is swept again. Beneduce is in half guard and passes to mount just after the 10-second clapper. The bell rings, ending a round of sensational ground work.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce

Round 3

Beneduce wastes no time in tripping Rivera to the mat to open the final round, and once again he’s in the full guard of Rivera near the base of the fence. 90 seconds in, Beneduce is in Rivera’s closed guard, throwing rib punches. Rivera tries to fence walk, but Beneduce simply hauls him back around. Beneduce isn’t doing a lot of damage, but if there’s any justice at the scorers’ tables, he really doesn’t need to. Halfway through the round, Rivera seems to be feeling some urgency, squirming to the fence and trying to sit up. Beneduce hops on the back of the kneeling Rivera, controlling him with a seatbelt grip. Rivera stands as Beneduce sinks a hook on the outside leg. Under a minute left, and Beneduce is just eating clock and controlling the action against the fence. The round, and fight, will end that way.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce (30-27 Beneduce)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce (30-27 Beneduce)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Beneduce (30-27 Beneduce)

The Official Result

John Beneduce def. Kenny Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Kastriot Xhema vs. Whitney Jean-Francois

Round 1

Kastriot Xhema (2-3) and Whitney Jean-Francois (2-6-1) square off in a 165-pound catchweight bout, with Dan Miragliotta looming over the proceedings. Francois scores a takedown in seconds, setting up on top in the middle of the cage. Xhema squirms and inches towards the cage. He regains half guard, then springs back up. Xhema nails Francois with a knee, then follows with some punches. Francois recovers and hits Xhema with a very long head kick. Francois follows Xhema to the fence, then dumps him to the canvas with a body lock. Xhema escapes to his feet, but Francois drags him back down. Xhema gets to his feet yet again and rocks Francois with a punch. He tries to follow up, but Francois grabs him and lateral drops him into side control. Xhema regains half guard and both men are working when the bell rings.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Jean-Francois
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Jean-Francois
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Jean-Francois

Round 2

In the opening seconds, Francois lateral drops Xhema for what feels like the 20th time, this time into side control once again. Francois is on top against the fence, throwing short punches. Xhema gets his hip out and stands. Two minutes into the round, Xhema lands a leg kick and Francois clinches and runs him into the fence. Francois lateral drops Xhema yet again. Xhema escapes and hops all the way over to take Francois’ back before his fatigued opponent can react. He takes mount, then back mount as Francois turns. Xhema throws a half-dozen unanswered lefts to the head of the turtled Francois before Miragliotta is forced to intervene.

The Official Result

Kastriot Xhema def. Whitney Jean-Francois at 3:17 of R2 via TKO (Punches)

Brandon Medina vs. Brandon Polcare

Round 1

Flyweights Brandon Polcare (1-2) and the debuting Brandon Medina take the cage. Kevin McDonald is the third man in the cage. Medina wades in behind a wide right and left hook, the latter of which rocks Polcare. Medina tries to flurry, but Polcare ties him up, regains his wits and ends up taking him down. It’s Polcare in Medina’s guard against the fence, a minute into the round. Medina has double butterfly guard, controlling Polcare’s posture with an overhook. Medina throws short punches from the bottom, while Polcare drives his head into Medina’s chest and periodically tries to posture up. Two minutes left, and MacDonald tells the fighters to work. With 90 seconds left, he stands them up. Medina lands a hard left leg kick and is answered with a right hand. Medina throws a knee that hurts Polcare, but is wrapped up when he rushes in to follow up. Medina drops for a takedown and runs right into a front headlock. Polcare cinches the guillotine choke, pulls half guard and cranks. Medina taps.

The Official Result

Brandon Polcare def. Brandon Medina at 4:33 of R1 via Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Bellator MMA Bantamweight Title Bout:
Darrion Caldwell vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

Round 1

The main card opens with the highly-anticipated rematch between Bellator bantamweight champ Caldwell (13-2) and the man who defeated him to win the inaugural Rizin bantamweight belt, Horiguchi (27-2). Todd Anderson is the referee. Caldwell is aggressive from the opening bell, throwing high kicks and coming forward. Caldwell grabs Horiguchi and dumps him to the canvas. Caldwell is in Horiguchi’s guard, throwing punches and some heavy elbows. Two minutes in, Horiguchi scoots to the fence. Caldwell is on top, keeping Horiguchi pinned to the canvas, but Horiguchi is throwing short, annoying punches. Horiguchi starts to escape out the side, and Caldwell is over him, throwing punches at his head. Referee Anderson stands them up, issues Caldwell a warning for putting his fingers into Horiguchi’s gloves, and restarts them standing. The round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Caldwell
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Caldwell
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Caldwell

Round 2

The bantamweights start exchanging on the feet, with Caldwell throwing long kicks to the head and body out of southpaw stance, while Horiguchi darts in from orthodox, looking to get inside the much longer man’s range and land punches. Caldwell lands a slapping head kick. Two minutes in, Caldwell drops for a takedown and drives Horiguchi to the canvas near the fence. Once again, it’s Horiguchi seated against the fence with Caldwell over him, wrapping him with his arms as the Japanese champ peppers him with short punches. The position draws out seemingly forever, with neither man improving his situation. With 30 seconds left, Anderson intervenes and stands the fighters up, where nothing of consequence lands before the bell.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-10
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Caldwell

Round 3

Horiguchi tries to meet Caldwell’s expected shot with a jumping knee. It doesn’t land squarely, but Horiguchi ends up with a front headlock. He adjusts, with both men on their knees, then they scramble, and Horiguchi ends up on top. Horiguchi is in Caldwell’s half guard against the fence, looking to advance, but it’s Caldwell who regains full guard. Caldwell is active on the bottom, looking to get a hip escape. Horiguchi lets Caldwell escape, and Caldwell comes in behind a wild overhand left. It misses, and Horiguchi hauls Caldwell back down. Caldwell escapes and nails Horiguchi with a big knee, but the Rizin champ seems unfazed. Horiguchi goes for the takedown, but Caldwell lands on top. With under a minute left, it’s Caldwell holding Horiguchi down at the base of the fence. Horiguchi escapes to his feet at the 10-second warning, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi

Round 4

The championship rounds open with Caldwell looking fatigued. Horiguchi grabs a guillotine in the first clinch, but Caldwell extricates his head and runs Horiguchi to the fence. Once again it’s Horiguchi seated at the base of the fence, calmly throwing little tapping punches, while Caldwell is wrapped around Horiguchi’s waist and keeping him stuck there. Halfway through the round, the crowd is starting to let the bantamweight champs have it. Caldwell sneaks in a hard elbow strike upstairs. 90 seconds left and referee Anderson stands them up. Horiguchi is coming forward, as Caldwell retreats and switches stances. With 45 seconds left, Caldwell shoots what ends up as a low single, but Horiguchi dances away. Caldwell runs Horiguchi to the fence. Horiguchi reverses him at the 10-second clapper and dumps him for a takedown with a second or two left. Another maddening, hard-to-score round.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi

Round 5

The final round starts in a champ-versus-champ superfight that has been less than super so far. Caldwell throws a solid inside leg kick. Horiguchi leaps at Caldwell, who ducks under and spins him down to a seated position at the base of the fence. The MSG crowd begins booing immediately, recognizing that at least half of the fight so far has taken place in this same no-man’s-land. Horiguchi is still throwing little punches, but is also sneaking his left arm around for a possible guillotine. With half the round gone, he makes an earnest attempt, trying to link his hands for the choke, but he gives it up. A moment later, he removes the other arm as well. A minute and a half left, and Caldwell tries to peel Horiguchi away from the fence. Horiguchi threatens an inverted triangle, gives it up, then gets his hips away and throws some hammerfists at Caldwell’s ribs, and Caldwell drives him back to the fence. The bell dings and the fight ends, fittingly, with Caldwell kneeling in front of a seated Horiguchi.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi (49-46 Horiguchi)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi (49-47 Horiguchi)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Horiguchi (48-47 Horiguchi)

The Official Result

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Darrion Caldwell via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)

Eduardo Dantas vs. Juan Archuleta

Round 1

It’s a second straight high-stakes affair in the Bellator bantamweight division, as former champion Dantas (21-6) takes on the 22-1 Archuleta. Blake Grice is the referee. In the first minute, there’s little actual engagement as the two circle at range, but two cautions from Grice about the extended fingers of (presumably) Dantas. Two minutes in, Dantas uncoils a spinning backfist that lands solidly and loudly, but doesn’t appear to hurt Archuleta too badly. Archuleta clinches and runs “Dudu” to the fence, where he throws knees from the side while holding onto the Brazilian with a waistlock. Archuleta makes a few attempts to hoist and dump Dantas, but is denied. A minute left, and the bantamweights are against the fence with matching underhooks. They break with 30 seconds left. The clapper sounds, and both men try for head kicks before the bell sounds.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Archuleta
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Archuleta
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Archuleta

Round 2

Cautious circling and feinting characterizes the first minute, with neither man landing anything of consequence. Archuleta rushes in and drops levels, but Dantas’ hips are nowhere to be found. “The Spaniard” drives Dantas to the fence, where they clinch. Dantas circles out and they reset in the middle of the cage. Halfway through, neither man has put his stamp on the round. Archuleta drills Dantas with a counter left, stumbling him. Dantas recovers, but it is Archuleta stalking him now, peppering him with kicks and single punches. Inside the 10-second mark, Archuleta counters a Dantas kick with a straight right that knocks the Brazilian out cold. No follow-up is needed as Dantas is asleep before his rear end hits the canvas. Juan Archuleta wins his 18th straight fight with a candidate for “Knockout of the Year.” What a punch.

The Official Result

Juan Archuleta def. Eduardo Dantas at 4:59 of R2 via KO (Punch)

Ricky Bandejas vs. Patrick Mix

Round 1

In a third straight bantamweight attraction, the 11-2 Bandejas seeks to derail another undefeated prospect in the 10-0 Patrick Mix. Kevin McDonald is the referee. Mix lunges in, clinches with Bandejas at the fence. He looks to hoist Bandejas with a body lock. Bandejas defends, but Mix slips to his back, hops on, gets a body triangle and grabs Bandejas’ neck. Still standing, he secures a rear-naked choke. By the time the two tumble to the canvas, Bandejas is about to tap. It’s over in barely a minute and Patrick Mix makes a dazzling Bellator debut, literally without breaking a sweat. Wow.

The Official Result

Patrick Mix def. Ricky Bandejas at 1:06 of R1 via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)

Dillon Danis vs. Max Humphrey

Round 1

Grappling wizard Danis puts his 1-0 record and considerable pride on the line against Humphrey (3-2). The 175-pound catchweight affair is overseen by Mike Beltran. Danis takes Humphrey down inside of 15 seconds. He takes Humphrey’s back effortlessly and does not immediately go for a choke, instead walloping Humphrey with both hands. Beltran is looking on closely, cajoling Humphrey to defend himself. Danis pauses the assault, adjusts his hooks and flirts with a rear-naked choke. Humphrey defends, but Danis is toying with him. It looks like an enthusiastic white belt rolling with his teacher. Humphrey is doing the right things, about three steps behind. With a little over a minute left, Danis isolates an arm and casually peels off for an armbar. Humphrey locks his arms in a desperation defense as Danis whacks him with his free arm. Finally, Danis puts his hips into it, goes belly down and Humphrey is tapping before he gets there.

The Official Result

Dillon Danis def. Max Humphrey at 4:28 of R1 via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)

Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen

Round 1

The co-main event features a pair of 40-something veterans in former UFC light heavyweight champ Machida (25-8) and the 30-16-1 Sonnen, with Todd Anderson the referee. Sonnen wastes no time in rushing Machida and getting a clinch. He tries several permutations of over- and underhooks, looking for the takedown, but Machida defends. They disengage, and Machida gets in a quick body kick before Sonnen collapses the pocket again. In the ensuing scramble, it’s Sonnen who ends up on the back of Machida. He looks to get hooks in, but Machida manages to escape and they’re back on the feet. Halfway through the round, Machida blows up an onrushing Sonnen with a flying knee. “The Dragon” is all over Sonnen, throwing punches from the back, but Sonnen somehow survives. Machida keeps pursuing the finish, but Sonnen defends smartly, showing remarkable grit in staying alive through the assault. The bell rings on a much better round than we had any right to expect.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Machida
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Machida
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Machida

Round 2

Sonnen immediately runs straight into another well-timed knee from Machida. It's practically a photocopy of the first, but this time, Machida follows him down with ill intent and Sonnen can't find the wherewithal to survive. Referee Anderson looks on, giving "The American Gangster" the time due a veteran of the sport, but is finally compelled to wave it off and avert further damage.

The Official Result

Lyoto Machida def. Chael Sonnen at 0:22 of R2 via TKO (Flying Knee and Punches)

Welterweight GP Semifinal Title Bout:
Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie

Round 1

The headline fight of the night features the reigning Bellator welterweight champ, MacDonald (20-5-1), taking on the 9-0 Gracie in a semifinal of the ongoing World Grand Prix. Dan Miragliotta is your referee. MacDonald lands a snappy left jab. Gracie is throwing low kicks early. MacDonald has the jab cocked, throws a low kick. Gracie jumps in, clinches, but the “Red King” shucks him off. Just shy of the halfway mark, MacDonald slips on a kick, but pops up before Gracie can take advantage. Gracie throws a jab to the body. 90 seconds left, and MacDonald is the matador, sliding left and right and letting Gracie come forward. MacDonald catches a kick and calmly walks Gracie to the fence with the foot hoisted aloft. Gracie extracts his foot and they resume circling. The bell sounds on a tense first round.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald

Round 2

Gracie lands an outside low kick to open the second round, then drags the champ to the ground in the ensuing collision. They scramble, and Gracie comes out of it with a leg isolated. He looks for a heel hook, but MacDonald rolls, rolls again, and calmly uses his free foot to extricate himself from danger as Gracie looks to extend the leg. The welterweights return to their feet and clinch against the fence. MacDonald ends up in top position as they go back to the ground with just over half the round left. MacDonald is in Gracie’s guard, throwing short punches and forearms and looking to advance as Gracie snakes his legs up, looking for offense. With 30 seconds left, MacDonald elevates completely out of Gracie’s aggressive guard, but instead of standing, dives back in behind a standing-to-ground punch. The bell rings.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald

Round 3

The two welterweights set up in matching orthodox stances to open the third round. They bounce in and out of range, and MacDonald lands a flush straight right in the first 30 seconds. MacDonald catches another kick, but lets it go quickly this time. 90 seconds in, Gracie shoots a for-real double-leg take down. MacDonald sprawls and turns Gracie over, landing on top. MacDonald gets out to side control for a moment, then Gracie forces a scramble, getting MacDonald out of position. MacDonald dives in with a standing-to-ground punch. Gracie moves to rubber guard, taking a mission control position briefly, holding his own ankle with the opposite hand behind MacDonald’s neck. Gracie sweeps to top position, snatching an armbar as he goes. Gracie’s grip is tight but MacDonald is clearly out of danger and he steps over to resume top position. The round ends with MacDonald on top once again.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald

Round 4

The championship rounds open with MacDonald and Gracie exchanging single shots at range. They clinch and Gracie is looking for the takedown. MacDonald ends up on top. Gracie escapes, they scramble, and Gracie ends up on MacDonald’s back. MacDonald defends and settles in Gracie’s full guard after a lengthy grappling exchange. With 90 seconds left, it’s MacDonald still in Gracie’s guard. Gracie is very aggressive off his back, likely understanding that he needs a finish. Gracie is throwing his legs up, looking to shift his hips out one way, then the other. MacDonald stands up at the 10-second clapper, and the round ends.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 MacDonald

Round 5

After an exchange of single shots, Gracie rushes in for a takedown. MacDonald defends well with an overhook, but after a series against the fence, Gracie gets the champ down to the canvas and slides into mount. Gracie is calm and deliberate on top, and MacDonald appears equally calm on the bottom. Halfway through the round, MacDonald attempts to shrimp and push Gracie back to guard. Gracie denies him, but MacDonald regains half-guard. MacDonald, likely aware he is ahead on the scorecards, is slowing everything down. His hands are locked behind Gracie’s body as he switches quickly from half-guard to butterfly hooks on either side. With 40 seconds left, MacDonald actually regains full guard. At the clapper, Gracie goes for a Hail Mary leglock, but MacDonald defends and time runs out before he can get anything going. This should be a straightforward decision win for the Canadian.

Sherdog Scores

Ben Duffy scores the round: 10-9 Gracie (49-46 MacDonald)
Tyler Treese scores the round: 10-9 Gracie (49-46 MacDonald)
Cole Shelton scores the round: 10-9 Gracie (49-46 MacDonald)

The Official Result

Rory MacDonald def. Neiman Gracie via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

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