Bellator MMA closed out their 2020 events schedule on Thursday with Bellator 254: Macfarlane vs. Velasquez at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The eight-bout fight card was headlined by a women’s flyweight title bout between champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Juliana Velasquez. Both women entered the cage with undefeated records.
The bout went the distance. The title changed hands, and Macfarlane’s championship reign came to an end. Velasquez put in a dominating performance, kept her undefeated record intact and walked out with the women’s flyweight belt.
Macfarlane had difficulty getting inside Velasquez’ reach advantage. She was left with having to rush in with a flurry to close the distance. Velasquez landed her jab and kept Macfarlane on the outside.
The biggest moment of the fight came at the end of the third round when Velasquez connected with a jumping knee in the closing seconds of the frame.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, Macfarlane was able to successfully close the distance and secure takedowns, but it wasn’t enough. All three judges scored the fight for Velasquez. The scorecards read 48-47, 49-46, and 48-47.
“I’m very excited to finally be the champion,” Velasquez following the win. “My goal is to not only be a champion inside the ring, but also a champion outside of the ring.”
“For me, this is like a gold medal. I didn’t get to win a gold medal in Judo.”
Macfarlane defned the title four times before losing it on Thursday. With the win, Velasquez became only the second woman to hold the flyweight title. Following the loss, Macfarlane congratulated the new champion.
“At the end of the day, she just out performed me,” said Macfarlane. “She’s the champion. She deserves it.”
The co-main event featured a match between two of the top bantamweights in the world, Magomed Magomedov and Matheus Mattos. Magomedov holds a win over UFC champion Petr Yan, but he was defeated by Yan in a rematch. Mattos’ only career loss heading into Thursday’s bout was also to Yan. Both fighters were making their promotional debuts on Thursday.
Mattos now has two losses in his career. Magomedov put on a grappling clinic and dominated Mattos with relentless pressure. In each round, Magomedov took Mattos to the ground and controlled him. Mattos had no answer for Magomedov’s stifling style. It was a one-sided unanimous decision win for Magomedov.
Following the win, Magomedov admitted that he was nervous to be competign in Bellator for the first time.
“I was really nervous to fight in a big promotion like this. I didn’t sleep for a couple of days,” Magomedov said. “I’m happy to be here.”
Magomedov solidified his place as a contender in the bantamweight division. He didn’t say who he’d like to face next, but put the Bellator roster on notice.
“I don’t want to say names. I just want to say to everybody in Bellator, the jungle has a new king,” he said.
In the opening round, Markes tried to take the fight to the ground, but lost top position. Vassell spent most of the round in top position landing short punches to the body and head.
In the second frame, Markes again tried to take Vassell down. As soon as the fighters hit the canvas, Vassell reversed Markes to gain top position. He mounted Markes and hammered away with punches and hammer fists until the referee stepped in to stop it.
“I was a bit disappointed in my stand up. Obviously, I planed to land a lot more than I did,” said Vassell after the win. “He took the fight to the ground. Obviously, I reversed it. My confidence kept growing and kept growing.”
During his post-fight interview, Vassell called for a rematch against Valentin Moldavsky. The two fought at Belator 2018 in in March 2019 with Moldavsky defeating Vassell by unanimous decision.
“I want that rematch with Moldavsky, Valentin Moldavsky. You know who you are. We had that fight a couple of years ago now. I want that rematch,” he said.
Bellator 254 Full Results:
- Juliana Velasquez def. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47)
- Magomed Magomedov def. Matheus Mattos by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Linton Vassell def. Ronny Markes by TKO (strikes) at 3:37, R2
- Romero Cotton def. Justin Sumter by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:36, R1
- Shamil Nikaev def. Kemran Lachinov by unanimous decision (29–28, 29–28, 29–28)
- Grant Neal def. Maurice Jackson by submission (rear-naked choke)
- Cody Law def. Kenny Champion by TKO (punches) at 4:44, R3
- Billy Goff def. Robson Gracie Jr. by TKO (punches) at 1:46, R2