'OG' David Rickels downing pizza and beer before latest win, wants Benson Henderson next

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

David Rickels has appeared in 19 Bellator bouts, more than anyone else in company history, and for that he believes he’s due some respect.

“Still around, still whipping ass,” Rickels told MMAjunkie. “Man, I’m the OG. Put some respect on my name. I think I just solidified that I’m no joke. I’ve got skills.”

Or perhaps even more than respect, Rickels believe he might be due former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA).

“Benson Henderson, what’s good?” Rickels asked. “Let’s go. That’s who I want to fight, actually. I’ve been talking about that fight for a minute. Benson Henderson, let’s get it.”

Rickels (19-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA), whose 19 Bellator appearances include a pair of no contests, was riding high when he spoke to MMAjunkie, and for good reason. Fresh off a Bellator 189 win over prospect Adam Piccolotti (9-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) at this past Friday’s event in Oklahoma, Rickels knew he was in for a tough fight.

And that was even before he stepped in the cage.

“It really didn’t affect me, but I was worried when they called,” Rickels said. “I was 185 (pounds), and I was eating pizza and drinking some beer, and yeah, man. The weight cut, it wasn’t terrible. It came off a lot easier than I expected, but it was cool. It worked out.”

Stepping in on short notice, Rickels was granted a 160-pound catchweight contest rather than going all the way down to the lightweight division. “The Caveman” said he’d be more than happy to take more of those matchups should future opponents be interested.

It would seem Rickels might be in line for a top-tier opponent. After all, in addition to his lengthy tenure with the company, Rickels also now boasts an official three-fight winning streak. But to be honest, with more than six years under the Bellator umbrella, Rickels isn’t too worried about challenging for a title. Instead, he’s only worried about challenging himself.

“My performance is what’s important to me,” Rickels said. “Tonight, I had a great performance. I felt smooth. I felt sharp. I landed good shots, and yeah, I think it showed.

“The performances. I just want to put my paws on people.”

And if Henderson is willing, then Rickels would like to go ahead and get a bout agreement drawn up. It’s no disrespect, he insists, but Rickels believes the two could combine for an entertaining scrap.

“I’ve just always respected him through his career, and I just think it would be a great fight,” Rickels said.

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

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

Trading Shots: What does it tell us when former UFC fighters struggle in Bellator?

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC

Former UFC fighters are finding that the transition to Bellator isn’t always an easy one, so what does that tell us about the true difference in talent between the two promotions? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

Fowlkes: Well, Danny, if you were thinking that you’d come out of retirement and cruise through the Bellator ranks, might be time to reconsider that strategy.

On Friday night Gegard Mousasi was the latest former UFC fighter to meet more resistance than expected in Bellator. Unlike Lorenz Larkin and Benson Henderson, he still got the win in the end, but he faced some stiff competition from Alexander Shlemenko, and the evidence was written all over his face by the end.

As the sample size grows, is it time to start asking ourselves whether we’ve been selling the competition short in Bellator? Mousasi left the UFC on a five-fight winning streak. If you put him in a fight with the current UFC middleweight champion, he’s probably the favorite. Yet he still got all he could handle in his first fight with Bellator.

As Bellator CEO Scott Coker loves to point out, people did the same with Strikeforce fighters, downplaying their skills because they weren’t in the UFC. But several of them became champs once they finally made the jump to the UFC. Are we making the same mistake all over again with Bellator as the lesser-known MMA organization? If so, will we ever stop making that particular blunder?

Downes: Welcome to the club, Ben! Those of us who actually watch the sport of MMA instead of being a Zuffa Zombie (although I guess now they’re the Endeavor Eunuchs) have known about Bellator for some time. Especially considering the way the UFC roster has ballooned the last couple years, the talent gap outside the top five has drastically narrowed.

We should be asking ourselves if we’ve been selling the competition short, but I wouldn’t count on too many others joining the fold any time soon. The UFC bias is too strong. In Mousasi’s case, despite the fact that he’s competed in every MMA organization you can think of, people will think of him as an “also ran,” like he couldn’t hack it in the UFC.

The same holds true for Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. Even Eddie Alvarez, who became UFC champion after a successful career in Bellator, doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He lost his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone, therefore Bellator is the minor leagues!

Part of it is also Bellator’s own doing. In an effort to deliver some name brand fighters, the “legends tour” moniker can seem too familiar. We all love a good “freak show” fight, but even then Bellator is held to a different standard. If Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock III happens inside a Rizin ring instead of a Bellator cage, I think the feelings and expectations are much different.

We often talk about how the number of UFC events can make fans feel less inclined to watch. This has ramifications outside the UFC. Even though Bellator and the UFC rarely go head to head, there’s only so much MMA you can consume. Even the hardcore fans have to go to work and occasionally bathe. Who has time for another MMA promotion?

The boom period of MMA is over. Isn’t it too late to catch up to the UFC now? If not, how do they gain ground?

Fowlkes: First of all, props for being the hip guy who knew Bellator was good before it was cool. Second, how do you catch the UFC from behind? Maybe you have to meet it halfway.

Bellator has been slowly gaining ground on the UFC, both through its own talent acquisitions and the UFC’s missteps, but there’s still a ways to go. What I wonder is whether it helps that cause to see former UFC fighters struggle in the Bellator cage.

On one hand, you paid good money to lure these fighters away, so you want to make your investment back. You want them to be the successful stars you thought you were paying for, right?

On the other hand, if they come over and get roughed up by existing Bellator fighters, it prompts the kind of conversation we’re having now.

Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe some people see it as proof that the UFC was right to let that guy go. Maybe they don’t even notice, because Bellator just draws so much less attention to begin with.

Or maybe this conversation about quality of fighters isn’t one that most fans are truly interested in anymore. We used to love that argument when it was PRIDE vs. UFC. We loved it slightly less when it was Strikeforce vs. UFC. But could it be that the UFC brand name is so solidified at this point that a certain segment of the fan base doesn’t even care if it’s where the best fighters are?

That’d be a little depressing, now that I think about it. But does that mean it’s not true?

Downes: I take it back. We don’t want you in our club anymore. I bet you’d probably never pay your dues.

There is something to the thought that the UFC is so ingrained as the face of MMA that it would be hard to catch it (there’s something to it because I said the exact same thing earlier, and you repackaged it as your own thought). People like to make fun of the “I train UFC” crowd, but there’s something to the joke. The term MMA may have more traction now than ever, but there are still a huge number of fans who think UFC = MMA.

Part of that has to do with the role of media. Dana White may talk about Bellator’s Viacom money, but the UFC has a lock on content. In mainstream outlets like ESPN or FS1, the UFC is the MMA content.

This brings us to a chicken or the egg argument. The UFC receives the most coverage because that’s what fans want. But how much of that has to do with what we give them?

Can you name three Bellator champs? How many fighters on the Bellator roster can you list? Is Alexander Griboyedov a current heavyweight or a 19th century Russian playwright? Certainly the failure to answer those questions isn’t the media’s fault, but we have to wonder if fans will ever be willing (or able) to make up that lost ground in the information battle.

Having good fights isn’t enough. What that extra piece of the puzzle is, I don’t know. I do know that there are only so many hours in a day, so many articles a website can write, and so much time an MMA fan can commit. Maybe fans will start to commit more of that time to Bellator. But maybe they’ll find something else to do. If they do that, it won’t just be bad for Coker – it’ll be bad for everyone.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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

Twitter Mailbag: Why are we talking about McGregor-Diaz III like it's a done deal? There's a reason

In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, are we really all-in for McGregor-Diaz III, or are we just desperate for a big fight to look forward to? Also, what happens if GSP becomes UFC middleweight champ? And is it better for fighters to be deep thinkers or non-thinkers?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

Want to know how easily manipulated the MMA media news cycle is these days, now that there’s not much going on and very little of immediate interest to discuss? All it takes is for Conor McGregor’s longtime coach John Kavanagh to throw a coin in the wishing well with a date and location attached, and suddenly we’re all talking about this Nate Diaz fight in March like it’s practically a done deal.

It’s not. That’s just fantasy matchmaking, and Kavanagh’s the first to admit that he has almost no power to make it happen. But we’re desperate. What else are we supposed to get excited about, interim title fights and the UFC’s debut in Gdansk, Poland? It’s tough out there, and we’ll take any port in a storm.

Yes I do, barely, but does it even matter? The sole reason to do this fight again (instead of, say, an actual UFC lightweight title fight against an actual lightweight contender, of which there are several) would because it would likely make a bunch of money. That’s the hope, anyway. And that hope is based on the pay-per-view numbers from the first two fights, which combined to give the UFC a monster financial year in 2016.

As you may have noticed, 2017 is not shaping up to be quite as monstrous on PPV. The new UFC owners paid a fortune for this thing, and now there’s debt to be paid but precious few superstars to bring in the kind of money that might help pay it. In times like these, no one in the position to make decisions at the UFC cares about the scorecards in McGregor-Diaz II.

Brother, if we can convince the MMA gods to accept Paige VanZant vs. Jessica Eye in return for keeping their malicious mitts off Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem, let’s just say we’ll have made one excellent trade.

That said, I have to favor Ngannou in this fight. He’s a big, young, athletic guy who hits hard and with plenty of confidence. Overeem has looked a little chinny in recent years, and when people get in his face and stay there he sometimes struggles. I don’t see him taking Ngannou down and beating him there. If he can’t keep Ngannou at kicking range, trouble abounds for “The Reem.”

Then again, these are heavyweights we’re talking about here. I’d sooner bet on a literal coin flip.

Chaos. Mass hysteria. Dogs and cats living together. You know, the usual.

First of all, I think it’s unlikely that Georges St-Pierre beats Michael Bisping. He’s just been out of action so long, and his style isn’t well-suited to beating a bigger man with good cardio and high work rate, who also happens to be a pretty sound defensive wrestler.

But GSP is still GSP, and Bisping is an aging middleweight with plenty of miles on the odometer, so it’s not unthinkable for St-Pierre to become the new UFC middleweight champ.

What happens then, you ask? One thing I don’t see St-Pierre doing is turning right around and defending his belt against Robert Whittaker. I think it’s more likely he looks around for another money fight (maybe against someone whose name rhymes with Bonor McEgger…) outside the division. Maybe he even decides that he’s proven what he had to prove and made the money he came back to make, so he returns to the solace of retirement.

Where would that leave the middleweight division? More or less where it is now, with everyone feeling pretty certain that “Bobby Knuckles” is the man to beat.

You’re asking the wrong question. It’s not a matter of smart vs. dumb, in part because there’s all different kinds of smart, just like there’s all different kinds of dumb. The real mental difference between fighters, according to my observations, is thoughtful vs. not thoughtful.

What I mean by that is, some fighters are very self-aware and introspective and honest with themselves. Others are very not. And while one hates to generalize, yeah, there does seem to be a difference in success rate, and it often favors the less thoughtful fighters – up to a point.

Take somebody like Uriah Hall, for instance. He’s been open about his struggles to get out of his own head at times, which is a problem that most of us would have if our jobs were entirely dependent on one brief physical performance every few months. An introspective person could drive themselves crazy in this business.

But then you have other fighters who rarely seem to struggle with doubt, as if their success is somehow preordained. They are confident almost to the point of being delusional. They don’t even think about all the negative “what if” questions, and it’s not because they’re intentionally avoiding them. Those possibilities just don’t occur to them, because they can only think one way about this stuff.

Greg Jackson likes to say that fighters have to be optimists. You can see his point, because if you get too honest with yourself about this sport and all the ways it can go, you probably wouldn’t ever set foot in the cage.

The problem is, those who manage to stay out of their own heads often have trouble being honest with themselves when they need to be. They can’t or won’t perform necessary risk-versus-reward calculations. They just go. Even when they should stop.

We’re not quite there yet, but such a test might soon be a reality. (You can read more about that here.)  If and when that does happen, it could change how we think about violent sports, but I suspect it will have a much greater impact on football than on MMA.

Think about it: Football is an extracurricular activity in America. It’s a game. We grow up playing it in school, as kids, which feeds our fandom as adults. If we become so collectively horrified at the consequences of it that we stop supporting it as this vast American institution, it can’t help but harm the future of the sport and leagues like the NFL.

Fighting, on the other hand? It doesn’t have so far to fall. It’s always been looked at as this brutal fringe of sports culture. You can still put kids in helmets and shoulder pads, but if you throw them in a cage to punch each other you’re likely to be branded a madman.

Most parents already don’t want their kids to take up full-contact mixed martial arts fighting. They don’t view it as an after-school activity. You don’t get a college scholarship that way; you break bones and lose teeth.

If people find out that tackle football is inherently bad for brain health, they might rethink a giant piece of American culture. If they find out the same about fighting, they might just see it as confirmation of what they already suspected.

But if he retires, how is Nick Diaz going to rematch both Anderson Silva and Takanori Gomi in the same night of some insane Rizin FF tournament on New Year’s Eve 2019? Dammit, man. You’ve got to think this stuff through.

I doubt it, because what do Benson Henderson’s and Lorenz Larkin’s losses really tell us? What, that Bellator fighters aren’t pushovers? Seems like that should be obvious to pro fighters who are capable of looking past the brand name and recognizing skill when they see it.

Also, if your main consideration is finding the easiest fights possible, that’s not a great argument for sticking with the UFC, where the talent pool is deeper in just about every division. Free agency is about money, and sometimes also respect and freedom. You don’t make it far enough to be in that conversation if you’re only interested in easy fights.

Henderson is definitely a good fighter, but at this point he’s pretty set in his ways. When he’s getting beat up, you’ll see him pull off (or at least attempt) some fun stuff. When he thinks he’s winning, however, he gets a lot more risk-averse.

The result is that, when it’s close, he tends to feel like he’s already winning. He fights like he doesn’t want to screw around and lose, rather than fighting like he wants to make absolutely certain that he wins.

If there’s any good news, is that at this point he has more to gain than lose by going out there and taking some risks. It’s just a question of whether can really just his approach this far into his career.

First of all, thank you for illustrating what a bad idea the expanded Twitter character count is. I think we can all look at the terrifying example you have provided and conclude that this is not a world we want to live in. So, um, good work?

Second, Rashad Evans is far from the first fighter to ever feel this way. It’s the dilemma of the former champion in decline. He doesn’t want to quit on a loss, but a win would only convince him that he can still do it.

And sure, there are light heavyweights he could beat. There’s probably easier prey at the bottom of that division than there is at middleweight. But is that really what would make this easier for him, just hunting around for a warm body he could beat, for the sole purpose of having a W next to his name at the very end of his career? I suspect that it wouldn’t give him the peace he’s looking for, but I don’t expect that to stop him now.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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

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

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Filed under: Bellator, News

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

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

Patricky Freire says he should get title shot before Michael Chandler

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire believes he’s earned the right to cut the line of contenders at 155 pounds.

Although many think Michael Chandler’s (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) freak injury loss to champ Brent Primus (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) guarantees a rematch, “Pitbull” Freire said he should be first.

“Listen, I’m the top dog,” Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) told MMAjunkie after his split-call win over ex-UFC champ Benson Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) at Bellator 183. “He was fighting, he got hurt. He hurt his leg. Nobody knows what happened, and two weeks later, he’s running. That’s his fault.

“I’m at the top of the list. I’ve been at the top of the list for 18 victories. This is my chance. This is my shot. That’s why I deserve it.”

Freire edged Henderson in a Spike-televised headliner at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., coming on strong in the third and final frame of a very close fight.

“I feel prepared for the big gold,” Freire said backstage after the fight.

Chandler undoubtedly will have something to say about that. But soon after the fight, he let a video clip do the talking, posting a highlight reel of his wins over Freire and Henderson in his second title reign.

“I still have one more ‘Pitbull’ on my list,” Chandler wrote, signaling Freire’s younger brother, featherweight champ Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.

For the elder Freire, one big name is now on his list of wins. So far, he’s been unable to capture Bellator gold. But his argument just got stronger for another chance.

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

Frustrated Benson Henderson after Bellator 183 loss: 'I need to stop having close fights'

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

Benson Henderson is tired of leaving his fights in the hands of the judges, and he’s vowed to do his best to make needed changes following his loss to Patricky Freire in the Bellator 183 main event.

Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) suffered a split-decision loss to Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) in Saturday’s Spike-televised lightweight headliner – which took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., following prelims on MMAjunkie – dropping him to 0-3 in fights decided on the scorecards since he came to Bellator.

Prior to joining Bellator, the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion faired well in decisions, going a combined 10-2 in those promotions. The tables continued to turn on “Smooth” at Bellator 183, though, and he said he’s had enough.

“I think that either way, win or lose, I need to stop having close fights,” Henderson told MMAjunkie after his loss. “(People say), ‘Oh, it was kind of close, maybe you could have won, you could have lost.’ Like, those close fights are killing me. It’s always nice to win a close fight, win a close split decision, but just being in close decision, close split decision, split decision (all in a row) – those are just too close to have. You can’t have those. You have to have a better performance win or lose. You got to be in more decisive battles. It sucks.”

Henderson said he’s not sure exactly how to articulate what he needs to change in order to create a wider gap from the competition, but in his opinion, it largely comes down to activity.

“I think if I had a technical reason for it, maybe cage control or damage done while you have the cage control,” Henderson said. “Maybe the number of significant strikes thrown from cage control. You’ve got to find the way to word it, exactly. For whatever reason, earlier on, I was winning those really close decisions, and I’ll take it. Now I’m not winning close decisions, so I have to do better. I have to be better to get my hand raised in those close decisions.”

After leaving the UFC with a decorated resume and momentum on his side, it’s fair to say that Henderson’s Bellator tenure has not gone as planned so far. He said the outcomes of his fights have been largely discouraging but made it clear there’s no piece of him that’s being turned off from the sport or forcing him to consider giving up.

“When you get to a point where you’re losing and it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t sting and you’re like, ‘Oh, I lost another one; oh, well’ (then you should retire),” Henderson said. “This burns my soul. This does not feel good. It is burning inside. You have to learn who to deal with it. Learn how to accept it, take it like a man, and get better from it. In no way, shape or form, am I not highly upset. But I know if I tear a TV off the wall and smash it, it doesn’t do anything. It’s just all theatrics. I know on Monday I need to get back in the gym and work on getting better so I don’t have close decisions, period.”

One of Henderson’s primary goals when he moved to Bellator was to become the first fighter in MMA history to claim titles in the UFC, WEC and Bellator. His rough road has derailed his plans in the interim, but Henderson said he’s not deterred – he just hopes he can get back on track sooner than later.

“For me, it’s always get back in there right away,” Henderson said. “I’m pretty healthy. No black eyes or not beat up or too sore or nothing like that. I’d like to get back in there right away, but who knows what Bellator is going to say, match-wise, who I’m going to match up with next. That’s a whole spaghetti and pile of noodles I don’t want to worry about.

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

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos
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.

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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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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 183 video highlights: Freire edges Henderson, Daley and Pico deliver big

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured Videos, News, Videos

Saturday’s Bellator 183 event was heavy on talent, and the card delivered on entertainment value.

Bellator 183 took place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The main card aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

In the night’s main event, Patricky Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) handed former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) his second straight split-decision loss.

In the night’s co-feature, hard-hitting Paul Daley (40-15-2 MMA, 6-2 BMMA) ended his rivalry with Lorenz Larkin (18-7 MMA, 0-2 BMMA) in impressive fashion, catching the fellow striker with a big left hand. However, it was top prospect Aaron Pico (1-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) who may have delivered the most memorable moment of the night, scoring a crushing knockout of Justin Linn (7-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA).

Check out the video above to see highlights of all the action.

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

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

Twitter reacts to Patricky Freire's narrow win vs. Benson Henderson at Bellator 183

Patricky Freire pulled off arguably the biggest victory of his career on Saturday when he defeated former UFC and WEC champ Benson Henderson in the Bellator 183 main event.

Not only did Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) beat Henderson (24-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) by split decision in the Spike-televised lightweight headliner at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., but he also avenge a loss for his brother, who was beaten by “Smooth” in August 2016.

Check out the top Twitter reactions to Freire’s victory over Henderson at Bellator 183.

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

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie