As we discussed on the podcast (links available on the ODPH front page), Bellator 221 had a really stacked card Saturday night (Live on DAZN). There was a lot of hype (and rightfully so) for UFC 237, but at the end of the night, Bellator had made the bigger wins out of the 2 MMA promotions.
Take nothing away from UFC 237. They had a great main event with "Bate Estaca" Jessica Andrade defeating "Thug" Rose Namajunas in dramatic fashion for the women’s straw-weight title. They had big names on the card with Anderson Silva & Jose Aldo along with a nostalgic match between BJ Penn & Clay Guida. They had a great night, but Bellator had a better one.
Let’s break it down, shall we. Say what you will, but whenever an athlete crosses over to MMA, there’s a lot of questions. we’ve seen it with Brock Lesnar. We’ve seen it with CM Punk. We now see it with Jake Hager FKA Jack Swagger/Jake Strong from the pro wrestling world. Hager won his Bellator debut in decisive fashion a few months back & won with a 1st rd submission over TJ Jones Saturday. In the post cage conference, Hager cut into a vocal Illionis crowd, taunting them like a true heel pro wrestler.
Parlay point: Not really shocked here. This is a day and age where if you can talk, you can make a quick name & get some big fights. Bellator could use a huge star in the making & it could be Hager. Hager’s looked great in his 1st 2 fights, but the true test is going to be when he gets into the cage against more elite competition. All the promos in the world won’t matter then, his skill set will.
Next big fight on 221 was Douglas Lima vs Michael “Venom’ Page (MVP). Both fighters are entered into Bellator’s Welterweight (170lbs) Grand Prix tourney. MVP has been one of Bellator’s biggest names for his flashy striking & highlight reel fights (Google Cyborg-MVP) entering Saturday with a 14-0 record. Lima is no slouch by any means as a former welterweight champion. Lima knocked out Page in the 2nd rd to advance in the tourney. Lima now waits for the Rory MacDonald-Nieman Gracie winner on June 14th
Parlay Point: HOLY EFFF! LIMA KILLED HIM! MVP bought into his own hype and got humbled imo. Coming into the cage, MVP was loose & dancing. With a record of 14-0, he can’t be faulted for being confident, but anytime you see a fighter acting THAT loose walking in, it usually spells trouble. Last time I witnessed a fighter do the same thing was Allister Overeem vs Bigfoot Silva & looked what happened there. Lima waited & weathered a big barrage then TOOK MVP OUT with a devastating hook. Now the question is how/when does MVP recover to get back on track & can Lima carry this momentum further?
The main event had Lightweight champion Michael Chandler facing off against Featherweight champ Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for the 155 title. There has been history between Chandler & the Freire brothers (Chandler defeated Patricky Freire in 2011 & it’s built from there). Freire won via ref stoppage (strikes) in the 1st rd. Freire is now currently the 145 & 155lbs champion of Bellator.
Parlay Point: Definitely did NOT see this fight going that way. Say what you will, but the ref made the call to stop. Chandler might have been awake but wasn’t defending the 3 strikes thrown on the ground. Freire is running with the win, and who can blame him. At worst case scenario, when these two meet again….wait for the fireworks to happen! Not sure of immediate plans now for Freire. Maybe AJ McKee (who won over Pat Curran & is undefeated at 145lbs)? Maybe immediate rematch with Chandler? I heard talk he wants to box with Canelo Alverez….Out of those options, do the immediate rematch with Chandler imo. You want legacy? You want a big fight? it’s right there. Fighting with Alverez will be Conor-Mayweather 2.0. McKee is a maybe but for the promotion and storyline, it’s Chandler without question.
Bellator 221 has a great card & deserves some praise for the action. Hit me up on Twitter @ODParlayHour & let me know your thoughts on the card and was it better than UFC 237. Thanks for reading!