The opening round of the Bellator MMA Featherweight Grand Prix kicked off on Saturday at The Forum in Los Angeles, California. The Bellator 228 fight card featured two main events with featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire defending his title and advancing in the tournament and middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi avenging a previous loss to former UFC champion Lyoto Machida.
Mousasi and Machida engaged in a three-round chess match. Both athletes wanted to play counter fighter. In the opening frame, Mousasi landed a counter right hand off of a leg kick by Machida and dropped the Brazilian. Machida immediately got back to his feet by lost the round.
In the second round, Machida was more active but neither did damage to the other. Heading into the final round, it was anyone’s fight. Late in the frame, Machida landed a head kick but was left off balance and Mousasi gained top position on the round. Machida was active off of his back and worked to lock on a guillotine choke in the closing seconds. He was unable to secure the submission before the end of the round and the judges scored the fight for Mousasi by split decision.
“He’s crafty. I had to fight this way. I couldn’t take a lot of risks. I neutralized him. I had to fight like this,” said Mousasi after the win. “The guillotine was tight, but nothing I would have tapped to.”
With the win, Mousasi wants a chance to win back the Bellator MMA middleweight crown. He was defeated by current champion Rafael Lovato Jr. at Bellator 223 by majority decision in June.
“It’s got to be Lovato the next fight,” said Mousasi. “Lovato for sure.”
Freire put his belt on the line against Juan Archuleta in the second main event on the fight card. “Pitbull” cruised to a victory ending Archuleta’s 18-fight winning streak. Archuleta moved up a weight class to take on Freire, but the champion was too much.
Freire won every aspect of the fight and nearly finished Archuleta in the third round. He dropped the challenger with a right hand and mauled him on the ground. After opening up Archuleta with strikes, he slapped on a guillotine choke but couldn’t get the finish. In the final two rounds, Freire was the faster fighter and continued to cruise to a unanimous decision win.
In the remaining three Featherweight Grand Prix bouts, A.J. McKee only needed eight seconds to to finish Georgi Karakhanyan. McKee dropped karakhanyan with a left hand and finished seconds later with follow-up shots on the ground.
Darrion Caldwell advanced in the tournament with a unanimous decision win over Henry Corrales while Daniel Weichel punched his ticket to the next round by defeating Saul Rogers by unanimous decision.
Bellator 228 Results:
– Gegard Mousasi def. Lyoto Machida by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
– Patricio Freire def. Juan Archuleta by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 49-46)
– A.J. McKee def. Georgi Karakhanyan by KO (punches) at 0:08, R1
– Darrion Caldwell def. Henry Corrales by unanimous decision (29-27, 30-27, 30-27)
– Daniel Weichel def. Saul Rogers by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Preliminary Card Results:
– AJ Agazarm def. Jonathan Quiroz by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
– Ava Knight def. Shannon Goughary by TKO (punch to the body) at 1:46, R3
– Antonio McKee def. William Sriyapai by TKO (punches) at 1:17, R2
– Johnny Cisneros def. Michael Jasper by TKO (ankle injury) at 2:48, R2
– Leandro Higo def. Shawn Bunch by submission (guillotine choke) at 4:43, R2
– Weber Almeida def. Weber Williams by TKO (punches) at 0:20, R2
– James Barnes def. David Duran by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:51, R2
– Joshua Jones def. Dominic Clark by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:39, R1