Bellator 189 post-event facts: David Rickels trails only 'Pitbull' on all-time wins list

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Bellator 189 wasn’t the most memorable night for the promotion. All four main-card fights went the distance at Friday’s event, which took place at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla., and aired on Spike.

The card concluded with women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd (11-2 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) making her first successful title defense when she picked up a narrow, and somewhat controversial, split-decision victory over Arlene Blencowe (10-7 MMA, 3-3 BMMA).

Budd’s title fight concluded the first of three Bellator events in the final month of the year. For more on the numbers behind the show, check out 20 post-event facts about Bellator 189.

* * * *

General

Betting favorites went 2-1 on the main card. One fight had even odds.

Betting favorites improved to to 15-4 (with one even odds) in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the four-bout main card was 1:10:00.

* * * *

Main card

Julia Budd

Budd extended her winning streak to nine fights. She hasn’t suffered a defeat since November 2011.

Budd’s five-fight Bellator winning streak in women’s featherweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Budd’s five victories in Bellator women’s featherweight competition are most in divisional history.

Budd has earned four of her five Bellator victories by decision.

Blencowe has suffered two of her three Bellator losses by decision. Both of those came against Budd.

Rafael Lovato

Rafael Lovato (7-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) earned the first decision victory of his career. His previous six wins came by stoppage.

Chris Honeycutt (10-2 MMA, 6-2 BMMA) fell to 2-1 since he moved up to the Bellator middleweight division in June 2016.

Honeycutt suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Chidi Njokuani (18-5 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) was successful in his Bellator middleweight debut.

Hisaki Kato (8-3 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) suffered the first decision loss of his career.

David Rickels

David Rickels’ (19-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) 13 victories in Bellator competition are tied with Michael Chandler and Joe Warren for second most in company history behind Patricio Freire (14).

Adam Piccolotti (9-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) has suffered back-to-back losses after starting his career on a nine-fight winning streak.

Piccolotti suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Preliminary card

Sam Sicilia

Sam Sicilia (16-8 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) was successful in his Bellator debut following a 12-fight UFC stint.

Sicilia snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since July 2015.

Marcos Galvao (18-9-1 MMA, 8-6 BMMA) fell to 0-2 since he moved up to the Bellator featherweight division in March 2017.

Galvao has suffered five of his six Bellator losses by decision.

Mandel Nallo’s (6-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) 18-second knockout victory marked the fastest stoppage in Bellator lightweight history.

For complete coverage of Bellator 189, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 189 results: David Rickels thwarts Adam Piccolotti in record-setting Bellator bout

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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Adam Piccolotti’s late rally wasn’t enough to stop David Rickels from winning their catchweight bout tonight at Bellator 189.

Rickels (19-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA), who was making a record-setting 19th Bellator appearance at the event, outworked Piccolotti (9-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) to a unanimous decision courtesy of a more effective striking arsenal.

“The Caveman” took the 160-pound catchweight bout, which took place at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Rickels landed multiple left hands over the course of the three-round fight, swelling Piccolotti’s eye shut.

Although Piccolotti had several meaningful takedowns during the 15-minute affair, mainly in the third round, but Rickels was able to avoid big strikes and attack with submissions.

In the end, Rickels’ work convinced the judges to award him with a decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.

“I put a whipping on that boy, but he is tough,” Rickels said in his post-fight interview. “I am the OG in this Bellator cage. You better come see me first. I never back down from a fight.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 189, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

5 reasons to watch Bellator 189, including Julia Budd's high-stakes title rematch

Filed under: Bellator, News

Bellator returns to the U.S. on Friday. After presenting events in Dublin, Ireland and Tel Aviv in November, the promotion heads to the familiar confines of WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla., for Bellator 189.

In the main event, women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd looks to defend her title for the first time when she meets Arlene Blencowe, an opponent the champion defeated by majority decision in 2016.

In the co-headliner, Chris Honeycutt and Rafael Lovato look to find a place among the top middleweights on the Bellator roster.

Bellator 189 airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. High-stakes rematch

Julia Budd

The first time Budd and Blencowe faced each other, the bout ended in a majority decision in Budd’s favor. Budd’s only contest since that victory was her featherweight title-winning TKO of Marloes Coenen.

Blencowe (10-6 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) has fought three times since she faced Budd (10-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in October 2016, and she won each of those bouts. The Australian’s most recent victory was a split-decision win over Sinead Kavanagh in August.

Budd’s strength and her ability to take advantage of openings in Blencowe’s striking game made the difference in the first meeting between these two. If Blencowe is more active in her striking and able to maintain distance, this could be her fight to lose. That’s easier said than done. The only two women to defeat Budd during her 12-fight career are former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and current UFC champ Amanda Nunes.

2. Moving on up

Chris Honeycutt

Once you drill down past Rafael Carvalho, Gegard Mousasi, John Salter and Alexander Shlemenko, you run into Honeycutt and Lovato in the middleweight pecking order. A step into the top tier of the division is on the line when the two meet at Bellator 189.

Since moving up from welterweight, Honeycutt (10-1 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) is unbeaten at 185 pounds. He extended his unbeaten streak to three straight after he earned a TKO win over Kevin Casey in August. Lovato (6-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), the former Legacy FC middleweight champion, has not lost in his MMA career. His most recent win was a first-round submission victory over Mike Rhodes in July.

Lovato is well known for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu accomplishments, but he has a developing striking game and has not been timid about using those newfound skills. Honeycutt has a wrestling background, which he uses to get the fight to the mat. Once on the ground, Honeycutt unloads heavy strikes. However, it will be a surprise if he tangles with Lovato on the ground.

The winner of this contest could find himself booked against the surging Salter, who was just victorious at Bellator 188.

3. Looking to make the most of his move

Chidi Njokuani

Chidi Njokuani was on a roll. Unbeaten in nine consecutive fights with four of those coming under the Bellator banner, he looked like a rising star heading into his August bout against former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. The one thing that dimmed that star was the Texas-born fighters inability to make weight on a consistent basis. Njokuani missed weight in two of his three most recent fights; the other was contested at a catchweight of 179 pounds. After his first-round TKO loss to Koreshkov, Njokuani (17-5 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) decided to give middleweight a shot. He makes his 185-pound debut against Hisaki Kato (8-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) at Bellator 189.

Njokuani’s move to middleweight does not come at an ideal time. The top of the division is crowded with the emergence of Salter as a title contender and the signing of Mousasi. With that, the pressure is on the 28-year-old to come out of the gate hot. The 35-year-old Kato, who is on a three-fight winning streak, hopes to spoil Njokuani’s move. Kato’s most recent win was a January decision victory over Ralek Gracie.

4. Bounce back

Adam Piccolotti

Adam Piccolotti suffered the first defeat of his career in his most recent bout. The loss was a costly one. The man who forced him to tap in the first-round, Goiti Yamauchi, was booked to face former lightweight champion Michael Chandler after his victory. Meanwhile, Piccolotti looks to get back in the win column against David Rickels in a 160-pound catchweight bout in Thackerville.

This is a good test for Piccolotti (9-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA). Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) is a well-rounded fighter who should test all facets of his opponent’s game. The less experienced Piccolotti is known mostly as a top position ground fighter, but he has made strides in his striking game. If he can get by Rickels, Piccolotti should find himself right back in the thick of things in the lightweight division.

Rickels enters this fight on the strength of a third-round TKO win over Aaron Derrow at Bellator 171.

5. A fine how you do

Sam Sicilia

After three consecutive losses, Sam Sicilia saw his five-year run with the UFC end in February. He then signed with Bellator. If Sicilia thought he’d waltz into his new promotion without a test, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In his first fight with Bellator, Sicilia is matched up against former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao.

This featherweight fight has the potential to be an entertaining one if it remains on the feet. Both of these combatants like to throw their punches with maximum force. If the bout does go to the ground, Galvao (18-7-1 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) will have an advantage, but getting Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) to the mat could prove tricky as he defended 70 percent of his opponent’s takedown attempts while with the UFC.

Expect both men to be very motivated in this matchup. Sicilia enters this contest on the heels of a frustrating loss to Gavin Tucker in which he landed a total of 10 strikes. Galvao also lost his most recent outing when he dropped a decision to Emmanuel Sanchez.

For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 183 salaries: Patricky Freire earns event-best $110,000

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Patricky Freire earned the largest disclosed payday at this past weekend’s Bellator 183 event.

Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) topped former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) via split decision. Freire earned $110,000 – $45,000 of which was a win bonus – as his disclosed payday. Henderson picked up $50,000.

MMAjunkie obtained the list of disclosed paydays from the California State Athletic Commission, which oversaw the Sept. 23 event. Bellator 183 took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and the main card aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

In the co-main event, Paul Daley (40-15-2 MMA, 6-2 BMMA) topped welterweight rival Lorenz Larkin (18-7 MMA, 0-2 BMMA) with a big left hand. Daley earned a flat payday of $50,000 while Larkin got $40,000.

The total disclosed payout for the event was $513,500.

The full list of Bellator 183 paydays included:

Patricky Freire: $110,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. Benson Henderson: $50,000

Paul Daley: $50,000 (no win bonus)
def. Lorenz Larkin: $40,000

Roy Nelson: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Javy Ayala: $50,000

Aaron Pico: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Justin Linn: $4,000

Goiti Yamauchi: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Adam Piccolotti: $18,000

Tony Johnson: $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
def. Mike Ortega: $1,500

Kaytlin Neil: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Brooke Mayo: $3,000

Brandon Laroco: $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
def. Gaston Bolanos: $4,000

Jaimelene Nievera: $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)
def. Corina Herrera: $1,500

Fernando Gonzalez: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Alex Lopez: $2,500

Ricardo Vasquez: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
def. Justin Tenedora: $1,500

J.J. Okanovich: $4,000 (includes $2,000 win bonus)
def. Luis Jauregui: $1,500

Daniel Gonzalez: $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)
def. Anthony Castrejon: $1,000

Now, the usual disclaimer: The figures do not include deductions for items such as insurance, licenses and taxes. Additionally, the figures do not include money paid by sponsors. They also do not include any other “locker room” or special discretionary bonuses Bellator sometimes pays.

In other words, the above figures are simply base salaries reported to the commission and do not reflect entire compensation packages for the event.

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the night.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Despite quick win and history, Goiti Yamauchi mum on callouts after Bellator 183

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Goiti Yamauchi is one of those fighters who truly prefers to let his fighting do the talking. Fortunately for him, his performance at Bellator 183 spoke volumes.

In his third appearance since moving up to the Bellator lightweight division in October, Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) scored a second-round submission of previously unbeaten Adam Piccolotti (9-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) in Saturday’s Bellator 183 main-card opener, which took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and aired on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

Yamauchi improved to 3-0 at 155 pounds with the performance. Not only that, he tied the record for the most submission victories in Bellator history with his sixth tapout. He said he was pleased with his effort and simply credited his work ethic and the support of his team for the win.

“I’m feeling good; I’m feeling very happy,” Yamauchi told MMAjunkie after the win. “It’s just how it worked. I’ve been working since my last fight. It’s just the hard work that I’ve been training, and that’s the result of all my teamwork. I’m very happy for this win.”

After a successful, but not spectacular, run in the featherweight division, Yamauchi decided moving up in weight was best for his growing body. At just 24, he is still an evolving athlete who is making gains to his physique, skillset and mental approach.

Piccolotti entered Bellator 183 with an unbeaten record and five consecutive wins with the promotion. Yamauchi took that all away in swift fashion, setting him up for some meaningful opportunities in the future.

Although he could have used the platform of his shining moment to call for a big fight or a specific name, Yamauchi opted to keep humble and revealed he would prefer to allow the Bellator brass to direct his future.

“My next fight is not up to me,” Yamauchi said. “I’m just waiting for the next contract to sign. I will sign it, and that’s how it works for me.”

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 183 post-event facts: Patricky Freire, Goiti Yamauchi produce record work

Bellator put on another solid event Saturday with Bellator 183, which took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., with a Spike-televised main card following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie

In the main event, Patricky Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) continued to put a damper on Benson Henderson’s (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) Bellator stint with a competitive split-decision victory over the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion.

A number of other notable names competed on the promotion’s 14th fight card of the year. For more on the numbers to come out of Bellator 183, check below for 25 post-event facts.

* * * *

General

Debuting fighters went 1-1 at the event.

Betting favorites went 2-3 on the main card.

Betting favorites fell to to 9-4 (with one even odds) in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the five-bout main card was 44:44.

* * * *

Main card

Freire improved to 4-3 in Bellator main events.

Freire’s 11 victories in Bellator lightweight competition are tied with Michael Chandler for most in divisional history.

Henderson suffered consecutive losses for the first time in his Bellator career. He’s 3-5 in his past eight fights overall.

Henderson fell to 1-2 since he returned to the lightweight division in August 2016.

Henderson has suffered all three of his Bellator losses by decision.

Henderson fell to 0-3 in decision under the Bellator banner after going 9-1 on the scorecards during his UFC career.

Paul Daley (40-15-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his past five Bellator appearances.

Daley has earned 32 of his 40 career victories by stoppage.

Daley has earned all 32 career stoppage victories as a result of strikes. That includes five of his six Bellator wins.

Lorenz Larkin (18-7 MMA, 0-2 UFC) fell to 4-3 since he dropped to the welterweight division in January 2015.

Larkin fell to 5-5 in his past 10 fights.

Larkin has suffered both of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Javy Ayala (10-6 MMA, 5-3 BMMA) suffered his first decision loss since Nov. 15, 2012 – a span of 1,773 days (nearly five years) and 10 fights.

Aaron Pico (1-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) was successful in his featherweight debut.

Pico earned a victory on his 21st birthday.

Justin Linn’s (7-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) three-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since September 2014.

Linn suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) improved to 3-0 since he moved up to the Bellator lightweight division in October 2016.

Yamauchi has earned 19 of his 22 career victories by stoppage. That includes eight of his nine Bellator wins.

Yamauchi has earned all three of his Bellator lightweight victories by stoppage.

Yamauchi’s six submission victories in Bellator competition are tied with Marcin Held and Alexandre Bezerra for most in company history.

Adam Piccolotti (9-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) has his nine-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of Bellator 183, with an always-welcome nod to 'The Karate Kid'

While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a Bellator win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Saturday’s Bellator 183 event in San Jose, Calif., went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Patricky Freire def. Benson Henderson via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Patricky Freire: “Bate Pesadao” by Pegador Luo

Benson Henderson: “Awesome God” by R-Swift

Paul Daley def. Lorenz Larkin via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 2:40

Paul Daley: “Wins And Losses” by Meek Mill

Lorenz Larkin: “This Is Now” by Hatebreed

Roy Nelson def. Javy Ayala via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)

Roy Nelson: “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen

Javy Ayala: “Congratulations” by Post Malone feat. Quavo

Aaron Pico def. Justin Linn via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 3:45

Aaron Pico: “Nuthin’ But a G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre

Justin Linn: “Puritania” by Dimmu Borgir

Goiti Yamauchi def Adam Piccolotti via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:19

Goiti Yamauchi: “You’re The Best Around” by Joe Esposito

Adam Piccolotti: “Can’t Be Touched” by Roy Jones Jr.

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Bellator 183 results: Goiti Yamauchi hands Adam Piccolotti 1st loss with record submission

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Goiti Yamauchi’s decision to move up to the Bellator lightweight division continued to pay off on Friday when he submitted Adam Piccolotti in the first round at Bellator 183.

Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) improved to 3-0 since he moved up from the featherweight division in October when he threw an onslaught of submission attempts at his opponent until Piccolotti (9-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) was forced to tap out to a rear-naked choke at the 3:19 mark of Round 1.

The lightweight bout aired on Spike as part of the Bellator 183 main card, which took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

The fight opened with a brief feeling-out process on the feet. As soon as they got close, Yamauchi jumped on a guillotine choke attempt. It looked good at first, but Piccolotti remained calm and waited for his moment to get free.

The grappling exchanges continued from there, with Piccolotti getting on top and landing some punches. Yamauchi eventually used the cage to stand up, then proceeded to jump on Piccolotti’s back. He locked in the rear-naked choke from a standing position before Piccolotti fell to his back and was forced to tap out.

Piccolotti suffered the first loss of his 10-fight career, and Yamauchi said he had all the confidence that would happen.

“I’ve been training a lot since my last fight,” Yamauchi said in his post-fight interview. “This is just the result of all my hard work. Adam’s a great and tough competitor, but I was better than him and I’m glad I got the win.”

With the finish, Yamauchi tied Marcin Held for the most submission victories Bellator history with six. He said he wouldn’t mind taking sole possession of the record against current Bellator lightweight champ Brent Primus (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA).

“Work hard and good luck in your career, because the monster is coming, baby,” Yamauchi said.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator 183 results include:

  • Goiti Yamauchi def. Adam Piccolotti via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:19
  • Tony Johnson def. Mike Ortega via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 1:49
  • Kaytlin Neil def. Brooke Mayo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Brandon Laroco def. Gaston Bolanos via technical submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:16
  • Jaimelene Nievera def. Corina Herrera via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)
  • Fernando Gonzalez def. Alex Lopez via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Ricardo Vasquez def. Justin Tenedora via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:39
  • J.J. Okanovich def. Luis Jauregui via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 0:42
  • Daniel Gonzalez def. Anthony Castrejon via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 4:03

For complete coverage of Bellator 183, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Goiti Yamauchi not worried about 'so-so' and 'average' Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 183

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Goiti Yamauchi had a busy 2016 with three fights, but tonight he finds himself back to work for the first time this year – and against an unbeaten opponent.

But Yamauchi (21-3 MMA, 7-2 BMMA) isn’t very concerned with his lightweight foe, Adam Piccolotti (9-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and that perfect record. He also isn’t very concerned with the Californian’s six finishes in his nine wins, or the four that have come by submission.

“He’s good; he’s not a bad fighter,” Yamauchi told MMAjunkie. “But none of his individual martial arts is at a very high level. His jiu-jitsu is so-so. His standup is pretty raw. But he shows up in good shape and has a lot of heart. I think it will be an excellent fight. I’ll win in a convincing way. He’s good, but I’m excellent. I’ll beat him.

“His striking, takedowns and jiu-jitsu are all average.”

Yamauchi and Piccolotti fight on the main card of Bellator 183, which takes place tonight at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Adam Piccolotti choking out Mario Soto at Bellator 147

Piccolotti might disagree with Yamauchi’s assessment of his skills, though. Like Yamauchi, Piccolotti will be returning after a lengthy layoff – but one that doesn’t concern him. And over the course of his career, he’s been happy with how things have gone so far and the quality of opponents that have stood across from him.

“I’ve had long layoffs in the past, so it’s nothing new to me,” Piccolotti told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’m really excited. Nerves and everything are definitely there, like usual – as they should be.

“I wish I would’ve finished a couple more fights that I didn’t. But I’m happy. I went out there and I’ve fought my ass off and I’ve made improvements every fight. I think I’ve represented myself and my team very well. I’m really happy with the competition I’ve had up to this point. Looking back on my career … I’ve had a pretty cool upbringing in terms of my opponents being pretty well-matched with me along the way.”

Yamauchi represents the most accomplished opponent so far on Piccolotti’s resume, both overall and in Bellator. And with 18 finishes in his 21 career with, and a whopping 17 by submission, he’ll be no slouch for Piccolotti to try to stay unbeaten against.

But Piccolotti said if the time comes for him to lose, so be it. He just doesn’t plan on that happening against Yamauchi. And he definitely doesn’t buy into that whole theory of learning more from your losses than your wins.

“I’ve lived my whole career with the mentality of: ‘Learn from my victories and learn from other people’s mistakes,’” Piccolotti said. “I think that stays true to me as a person. … I don’t want to ever (expletive) lose. It happens; I get it. And if someone’s better than me on that day, then it is what it is. But I’m ready to go out there and put my life on the line every single fight.”

So too, though, is Yamauchi, he says. And he wants to start making his way toward the top of the lightweight division.

“I’ve been doing good work,” Yamauchi said. “I’m very happy, but I’m unsatisfied since I want to be the best in the world. I want to break records and make a new era in our sport. I truly believe in that. From a young Brazilian prospect, I’ve been able to make my name in one of the top promotions in the world. People have always doubted me and my team, but we’re among the best in the world.”

For more on Bellator 183, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

5 reasons to watch Bellator 183, a Saturday card with high-stakes matchups

Bellator returns to SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., for Saturday’s Bellator 183 fight card, and the event features some very familiar names.

The main event competitors, Benson Henderson and Patricky Freire have had different experiences at “The Shark Tank” as of late. Henderson dropped his most recent fight there, a split decision to then-lightweight champion Michael Chandler. As for Freie, he knocked out former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson in his most recent bout at the arena.

In the co-main event, one of Bellator’s big – in both a figurative and literal sense – signings makes his debut. In that fight, Roy Nelson meets Javy Ayala.

The three other fights on the main card – Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, Adam Piccolotti vs. Goiti Yamauchi, and Aaron Pico vs. Justin Linn – might not be receiving the same amount of attention as the headlining bouts, but these three matchups have high stakes of their own.

Bellator 183 airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. Post-surgery ‘Bendo’

It turns out Henderson wasn’t fighting at 100 percent during his first three Bellator bouts. In April, Henderson, who is currently No. 12 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, told MMAjunkie he’d seriously damaged his knee before his promotional debut, a unanimous decision loss to then-welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov.

In December, after his decision loss to Chandler, Henderson went under the knife. Henderson said the surgery repaired a torn “ACL, MCL, two meniscus and a bunch of loose cartilage.”

If the surgery did its trick, expect Henderson (24-7 MMA, 1-2 BMMA) to use his speed and motion to work from the outside to pick apart Freire (17-8 MMA, 10-7 BMMA) with powerful kicks. If Henderson’s knee is not up to par and he’s not able to move as well as he did in the past, Freire’s chances of catching Henderson with his powerful hands increase exponentially.

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It’s unlikely that the winner of this fight will earn an immediate shot at the lightweight title. Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie in June he was leaning more toward a rematch between champion Brent Primus and Chandler.

Freire defeated Josh Thomson by knockout in his most recent fight.

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2. Big signing

After nearly eight years with the UFC, Nelson signed a free-agent deal with Bellator in May. Nelson, who never got a shot at UFC gold, left the promotion with a losing record. Despite that, the vet, with his iron chin and one-punch knockout power, was always one of the more popular UFC heavyweight fighters.

Bellator has been loading up at heavyweight lately. The division now features Matt Mitrione, Cheick Kongo, Sergei Kharitonov, Bobby Lashley, Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir. While none of these fighters is a young man, they all do make for an interesting lineup. This is especially true since they’re all jockeying for a shot at a title that has been vacant for more than a year.

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Nelson (22-14 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) begins his pursuit of Bellator gold against Ayala (10-5 MMA, 5-2 BMMA). Ayala enters this fight coming off a stunning one-punch knockout win over Kharitonov at Bellator 163.

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3. Bad blood

Daley and Larkin both have the same goal: to get a crack at welterweight gold. Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) lost a unanimous decision to current champion Douglas Lima in his most recent fight, while Daley (39-15-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) dropped a decision to Lima in a 2016 title-eliminator.

While a shot at the belt is the longterm goal for these two, the short-term goal is a return to the win column. Like the No. 8 ranked Larkin, Daley enters this fight coming off a second-round submission loss to Rory MacDonald.

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This matchup promises a return to form for Daley and Larkin. Daley has never been a ground fighter; MacDonald exploited that deficiency. Larkin had never participated in a five-round fight before his bout with Lima. That fact might have affected Larkin’s game plan and effectiveness in that bout.

This fight is a three-round affair. Fans should expect these two strikers, who don’t seem to like each other in the least, to get after it early. Between them, Larkin and Daley have 40 knockout victories and just two true knockout losses.

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4. Knocking on the door

Piccolotti passed his first big test inside the Bellator cage when he earned a unanimous-decision win over the more experienced Brandon Girtz in November. At Bellator 183, Piccolotti (9-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) faces another opponent with more experience, 23-fight veteran Yamauchi (21-3 MMA, 7-2 BMMA).

Piccolotti, best known for his ground game, showed improved striking in the Girtz fight. Piccolotti used his height and reach advantages to work from the outside, touching Girtz with a good mix of kicks and punches. That striking should come in handy against Yamauchi, who is very dangerous off his back after winning 17 contests via submission. Yamauchi has won his two most recent fights by first-round tap-out.

These two lightweight prospects are inching toward the top of the division. A win in this matchup is likely to earn the victor a shot at a top-five opponent.

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5. Give it a second try

Bellator has handled most of their recent blue-chip signings with kid gloves. The promotion has matched unproven fighters such as Ed Ruth, Tyrell Fortune, Jarod Trice and Joey Davis against opponents equally unproven opponents. For some reason, the promotion didn’t do that with Pico, its most hyped prospect.

In his first pro fight, Pico matched up against 8-2 Zach Freeman. Just 24 seconds into that bout, Pico tapped to a guillotine choke from the former RFA lightweight title challenger.

Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) drops to featherweight at Bellator 183 to face another much more experienced opponent in Linn (7-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA). Linn, who turned pro in 2010, enters this fight with losses to former UFC fighter Cody Gibson and current UFC combatant Matthew Lopez in past two outings. Linn has not fought since his April 2016 loss to Gibson.

Pico’s calamitous loss to Freeman puts even more pressure on him for his second fight. If he loses, Pico can expect to hear murmurs and whispers of “he’s a bust” from unforgiving MMA fans. Pico needs to bounce back in a big way against Linn.

For more on Bellator 183, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie