MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Month' for November: A slick choke caps a historic return

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best submissions from November: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Submission of the Month” award for November.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.

* * * *

The Nominees

Ilima Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote at Bellator 186

Ilima Macfarlane (7-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) may have become Bellator’s inaugural women’s flyweight champion, but Emily Ducote (6-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) did not go down without a major fight.

Macfarlane finally put Ducote away with an armbar and a verbal submission from a triangle choke late in the fifth round. But Ducote tested her most of the fight in what may have been a close one had it gone to the judges. The finish, however, came with less than 90 left in the final round.

Instagram Photo

Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping at UFC 217

Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) promised to make history against Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC), and he delivered by becoming just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win belts in two weight classes when he claimed the middleweight belt.

Former longtime welterweight champ St-Pierre was successful in his return to the octagon after nearly four years when he defeated Bisping by third-round technical submission, tying the record for most wins in UF history.

Instagram Photo

Haim Gozali def. Arsen Faitovich at Bellator 188

Haim Gozali (8-4 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) made his way to the Bellator cage with style, complete with Israeli musical group The Shadow performing a song specifically for him. To be clear, Gozali entered with style and finished his fight the same way.

Arsen Faitovich (4-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) made the big mistake of shooting for a take down in the opening moments, and Gozali made him pay, transitioning to a triangle choke and putting Faitovich to sleep in his promotional debut.

Instagram Photo

Nik Lentz def. Will Brooks at UFC Fight Night 121

There was a little bit of bad blood between Nik Lentz (28-8-2 MMA, 12-5-1 UFC) and Will Brooks (18-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) heading into their lightweight showdown, but in the end “The Carny” emerged victorious.

Lentz submitted Brooks with a second-round guillotine choke, then called out anyone at his former camp, and Brooks’ current camp, American Top Team – with a $50,000 bet on the table. Lentz forced the 5-1 favored Brooks to tap in the second round.

Instagram Photo

Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Sheymon Moraes at UFC Fight Night 122

Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) made things look easy when he extended his winning streak to 10 with a dominant performance former WSOF title challenger Sheymon Moraes (9-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

Magomedsharipov outworked Moraes for nearly 15 minutes, then put the Brazilian away with a late anaconda choke. Magomedsharipov was on his way to an easy win on the judges’ scorecards, but no doubt was glad for the finish, which came with 30 seconds left in the fight.

* * * *

The Winner: Georges St-Pierre

After four years away, St-Pierre made UFC history in his long-awaited return to the octagon against Bisping.

St-Pierre, who left the sport as a long-reigning welterweight champion, returned to the UFC and choked out middleweight champion Bisping to become the new 185-pound titleholder and just the fourth two-division champion in the promotion’s history.

St-Pierre went to the center and faked a kick while Bisping circled on the outside. Bisping tried to pepper a jab, but St-Pierre landed a right hand over the top. He tried a spinning kick shortly after that. St-Pierre missed on a right hand that had bad intentions. Bisping landed a left, but Bisping hit a solid jab seconds later. With two minutes left, St-Pierre clipped Bisping with a right hand, but couldn’t drop him.

A spinning kick whiffed for St-Pierre with 90 seconds left, and with a minute left St-Pierre dropped down for a takedown and secured it. It didn’t take long for Bisping to get back to his feet, but St-Pierre landed a right and a glancing kick before the horn. If anyone wondered how St-Pierre would respond after four years off, they got their answer.

St-Pierre tried a side kick early in the second, then tried it again 90 seconds into the frame. A right hand clipped Bisping not long after that. But Bisping’s best punch of the fight came a little more than two minutes into the round when he popped St-Pierre’s head back with a right. With two minutes left, St-Pierre got Bisping down in the center of the octagon and got to half-guard.

But without taking any damage, Bisping was right back to his feet and landed a big right hand. Bisping nearly took St-Pierre off his feet with a punch and slip, and St-Pierre looked to be much slower deep in the second than he was at the start of the round. Bisping glanced a high kick off St-Pierre’s head, then another not long before the round ended.

Fifteen seconds into the third, St-Pierre took Bisping down for the third time. But Bisping landed elbows from the bottom and cut St-Pierre open. Bisping wrapped St-Pierre up in guard and played defense from his back. St-Pierre got an elbow through. Just past the three-minute mark, Bisping got back to his feet. St-Pierre was a bloody mess from Bisping’s elbows. Bisping landed a right hand, but St-Pierre landed seconds later.

But a perfect left hook landed for St-Pierre and put Bisping on the canvas. St-Pierre dropped down and started hammering away with punches. John McCarthy gave the champ plenty of time to defend and work his way out. But St-Pierre let Bisping get out – only to take his back and quickly sink in a rear-naked choke.

Bisping refused to tap and went out cold, and St-Pierre was the latest two-division champion in UFC history.

I knew he had a problem with the shot coming from the right,” St-Pierre said afterward. “That’s what we did most of the fight. (The submission) was a trick. I think the best thing in fighting is to set up a trap.”

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What's next for Bellator champs Ryan Bader, Ilima Macfarlane? Scott Coker weighs in

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Bellator 186 saw the defense of one title and the crowning of a new champion.

In the main event of last Friday’s event at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s Campus in University Park, Pa., Ryan Bader pounded out Linton Vassell to retain light heavyweight gold with a second-round TKO.

And in the co-headliner, Ilima Macfarlane won the inaugural Bellator women’s flyweight title with a fifth-round submission of Emily Ducote.

So what could be next for the two champions? Bellator President Scott Coker has no intention of rushing a decision.

In the lead-up to Bellator 186, the 205-pound champion Bader expressed interest in taking part in a heavyweight tournament, should the promotion go that route to decide a new champion. Coker called Muhammed Lawal “a natural choice” for Bader’s next opponent but wouldn’t go so far as to commit to it.

As for Macfarlane, it’s new territory for Coker and Co. deciding what makes sense for the champion of a recently created division, but she’s in no rush to return.

Check out the video above to hear Coker weigh in on the possibilities for both champions, as well as his assessment of their performances.

And for complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Bellator 186 post-event facts: Ilima Macfarlane's dominant run leads to inaugural 125-pound belt

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One new champion was crowned while another defended the gold on Friday at Bellator 186, which took place on the Penn State campus at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.

In the Spike-televised headliner, Ryan Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) defended his light-heavyweight title for the first time with a second-round TKO of Linton Vassell (18-6 MMA, 7-3 BMMA), which kept him undefeated since ending his UFC tenure a year ago.

The co-main event, meanwhile, saw Ilima Macfarlane (7-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) continue her dominance in the Bellator flyweight division. She beat Emily Ducote (6-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) once again, but this time she was awarded the inaugural 125-pound belt for her efforts.

Bader’s victory closed out of a five-fight main card, which saw four contests end in a stoppage. For more on the numbers behind the show, check out 20 post-event facts about Bellator 186.

* * * *

General

Ryan Bader

Debuting fighters went 0-2 at the event.

Betting favorites went 5-0 on the main card.

Betting favorites fell to 12-4 (with one even odds) in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the five-bout main card was 39:14.

* * * *

Main card

Linton Vassell and Ryan Bader

Bader improved to 9-1 in his past 10 fights. The lone defeat in that stretch came to Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX 18 in January 2016.

Vassell fell to 0-2 in Bellator title fights.

Vassell suffered his first knockout loss since Oct. 29, 2010 – a span of 2,562 days (more than seven years) and 16 fights.

Macfarlane became the inaugural Bellator flyweight champion.

Macfarlane’s six Bellator victories are most among female fighters in the organization.

Ilima Macfarlane

Macfarlane’s six-fight Bellator winning streak in the longest among female fighters in the organization.

Macfarlane’s four stoppage victories in Bellator competition are most among female fighters in the organization.

Macfarlane’s four stoppage victories in Bellator flyweight competition are most in divisional history.

Macfarlane has earned all of her Bellator stoppage victories by submission.

Ducote suffered the first submission loss of her career.

Leonardo Leite (10-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) had his 10-fight winning streak for the first defeat of his career.

Ed Ruth

Ed Ruth (4-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) has earned all of his career victories by knockout.

Chris Dempsey’s (11-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) four-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since April 2015.

Dempsey fell to 1-5 in his past six fights dating back to July 2014.

Dempsey has suffered all six of his career losses by stoppage, including five knockouts.

Saad Awad

Saad Awad (21-9 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) has earned 17 of his 21 career victories by stoppage.

Awad’s four knockout victories in Bellator lightweight competition are tied with Michael Chandler for second most in divisional history behind Patricky Freire (seven).

Zach Freeman (9-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

For complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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New Bellator women's flyweight champ Ilima Macfarlane in no rush to return

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – If you’re expecting new Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima Macfarlane to be back in there right away, think twice.

After her fifth-round submission win over Emily Ducote (6-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) on Friday in the Bellator 186 co-main event, Macfarlane (7-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) is more than happy to take some time off, she said.

“People are asking me, ‘Oh, are ou going to fight on the L.A. card at The Forum?’ Macfarlane said after the fight. “I’m like, ‘No way!’ I’m going to relish in this for as long as I can. I’m going to hang out as the champion – I don’t have any need to fight immediately and defend the belt. I’m good. I can fight in six months.”

Bellator 186 took place Friday at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa. The main card aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Macfarlane came into her post-event meeting with the media with a hitch in her giddy-up, which she said was courtesy of Ducote’s consistent kicks to hea lead leg. That’s even more reason for her to take a break, she said.

For more from Macfarlane, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
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Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of Bellator 186

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 Friday’s Spike-televised Bellator 186 event at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa., went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Ryan Bader def. Linton Vassell via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:58

Ryan Bader: “Paint It Black” by Rolling Stone

Linton Vassell: “Ran Threw Em” by Determined Record

Ilima Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote via verbal submission (armbar) – Round 5, 3:42

Ilima Macfarlane: “Electric Pow Wow Drug” by A Tribe Called Quest

Emily Docote: “Hard Love” by NeedToBreathe

Phil Davis def. Leonardo Leite via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Phil Davis: “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa

Leo Leites: “Feel Good” by James Brown

Ed Ruth def. Chris Dempsey via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:27

Ed Ruth: “Hello Zepp” by Charlie Clouser

Chris Dempsey: “Welcome to D-Block” by Jadakiss

Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:07

Saad Away: “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J
Zach Freeman: “Marianas Trench” August Burns Red

For complete coverage of Bellator 186, 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 186 highlights: Bader's title defense, Macfarlane's title win, Claxton's crazy knee

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Check out the highlights from Friday’s Bellator 186 event on the Penn State campus at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.

In the Spike-televised headliner, Ryan Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) scored the first defense of his light-heavyweight title with a second-round TKO win over Linton Vassell(18-6 MMA, 7-3 BMMA).

As you can see in the video above, Bader trapped the challenger against the fence, controlled his wrists, and then unloaded the fight-ending flurry of punches.

Additionally, Ilima Macfarlane (7-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) claimed the inaugural women’s flyweight title with a fifth-round submission victory over Emily Ducote (6-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA), former Penn State national wrestling champion Phil Davis (18-4-1 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) scored a dominant decision victory over previously unbeaten Leo Leite (10-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in a mostly standup affair, and fellow Penn State alum Ed Ruth (4-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) scored a big knockout win over former UFC middleweight Chris Dempsey (11-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA).

Additionally, in the main-card opener, lightweight Saad Awad (21-9 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) needed just 63 seconds to stop Zach Freeman (9-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA).

Because the video above shows the main-card highlights, they’re missing one viral clip from the preliminary card. Featherweight Tywan Claxton (1-0) blasted Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman (1-1) with a massive flying knee:

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For complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Bellator 186 results: Ilima Macfarlane taps Emily Ducote in fifth to win inaugural flyweight title

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Bellator has its first women’s flyweight champion, and it’s Ilima Macfarlane. But Emily Ducote did not go down without a major fight.

Macfarlane (7-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) finally put Ducote (6-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) away with an armbar and a verbal submission from a triangle choke late in the fifth round. But Ducote tested her most of the fight in what may have been a close one had it gone to the judges. The finish came at the 3:42 mark of the final round.

The inaugural women’s flyweight title bout was the co-main event of today’s Bellator 186 event at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa. It aired on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Ducote landed an early kick, but Macfarlane countered with a quick combo. Macfarlane swung hard seconds later with a right, but was just off the mark. A Ducote leg kick was on the spot, and Macfarlane moved in to clinch up. She landed a knee, then another, from a Thai clinch before Ducote finally broke away a minute in. Ducote briefly dragged Macfarlane to the canvas 100 seconds in, but the Hawaiian was right back up.

Macfarlane stalked Ducote down not long after that and landed several heavy shots. Ducote clinched up trying to recover, but again Macfarlane landed knees to the body. Then Macfarlane scooped Ducote up for a takedown right in front of Ducote’s corner. She tried to take her back, then went after a rear-naked choke. She had it briefly, then worked to half-guard and landed elbows from up top with 90 seconds left. With a minute left, Macfarlane went after a striaght armbar, then jumped over to near mount. She stayed after the armbar and turned it over with 10 seconds left. But Ducote survived the frame.

Ducote kicked early in the second, but ate a couple punches from Macfarlane after. Macfarlane landed a solid jab that was too quick for Ducote to catch up to. Ducote worked kicks to Macfarlane’s lead leg, but they didn’t appear to be stopping her. When she kicked harder, Macfarlane threw harder counters. Macfarlane seemed more patient in the first half of the frame and was willing to eat a few leg kicks – and they may have started to take their toll. With each one, Ducote’s corner got more and more confident with Macfarlane backing up. The kicks let Ducote climb right back into the fight.

Ducote started the third with more leg kicks. If she lacked the same kind of punching power that Macfarlane had, she seemed poised to make up for it with the kicks. Macfarlane tried to chase her down for a takedown just about a minute in, but Ducote wasn’t there. Macfarlane put together a combination 90 seconds in, then clinched up with Ducote for more knees. That was where she found success in the first and went back to it when she needed to.

Ducote finally broke away, but not long after, Macfarlane landed perhaps her best combo of the fight. When Ducote threatened with punches, Macfarlane shot for a single-leg takedown. But with 90 seconds left, she found herself still working to complete it. With 45 seconds left, Macfarlane tried twice to pick Ducote up and failed. But the third time was the charm and she finished the round with a few punches from on top.

Ducote opened the fourth with another leg kick, but ate a few punches for her effort. They tied up briefly, but Macfarlane wasn’t able to get anything done in the clinch. Macfarlane continued to work through Ducote’s kicks, but with two minutes left Ducote turned up the aggression in her striking game. A solid right from Macfarlane landed, but she struggled to put combinations together and Ducote stayed aggressive. With 40 seconds left, Macfarlane got the fight to the ground. But Ducote reversed it with a trip and got to side control to end the frame.

Macfarlane opened the final frame with a pair of right jabs, then just missed a Superman punch. Ninety seconds in, Ducote got back to her leg kicks, but found herself taken down by Macfarlane. But there once again, Ducote reversed to get on top. Macfarlane worked for a triangle choke from the bottom and had half the round keep working at it. She finally locked it up tight enough to get Ducote’s arm and roll it over for an armbar finish when Ducote verbally tapped.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator 186 results include:

  • Ilima Macfarlane def. Emily Ducote via verbal submission (armbar) – Round 5, 3:42 – to win inaugural women’s flyweight title
  • Phil Davis def. Leo Leite via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Ed Ruth def. Chris Dempsey via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:27
  • Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:07
  • Scott Clymer def. Michael Benjamin Putnam via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:07
  • Mike Wilkins def. Brett Martinez via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:09
  • Michael Trizano def. Mike Otwell via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 2, 2:07
  • Dominic Mazzotta def. Matthew Lozano via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1, 2:37
  • Logan Storley def. Matt Secor via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Tywan Claxton def. Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman via knockout (flying knee) – Round 1, 1:29
  • Frankie Buenafuente def. Francis Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Andrew Salas def. Ethan Goss via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Josh Fremd def. Ryan Parker via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:25

For complete coverage of Bellator 186, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Bellator 186 weigh-in highlights video, photos with classic apparel from Macfarlane, Davis

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Photo Gallery, Videos

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The ceremonial weigh-ins for Bellator 186 are in the books, and there were some solid costumes a couple days after Halloween.

In the main event, Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) puts his light heavyweight title on the line for the first time against challenger Linton Vassell (18-5 MMA, 7-2 BMMA). The two were cool and collected at their face-off.

But the evening’s highlights came from women’s flyweight title challenger Ilima Macfarlane (6-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA), who fights Emily Ducote (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) for the vacant belt, and former light heavyweight champion Phil Davis (17-4-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who takes on Leo Leite (10-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).

Macfarlane, a Hawaiian now living in San Diego, wore traditional Hawaiian garb onto the stage for a great photo op. And Davis, a Penn State wrestling product who gets to fight on his former campus, wore a Nittany Lions wrestling singlet onto the scale.

Bellator 186 takes place Friday at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Check out the highlights from the five fights on the main card above.

And for more on Bellator 186, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Bellator 186 staff picks: Is anyone picking upsets in the 2 title fights on Penn State's campus?

Bader
vs.
Vassell
Ducote
vs.
Macfarlane
Dempsey
vs.
Ruth
Davis
vs.
Leite
Awad
vs.
Freeman
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 97-67
bader2017
Bader
(87%)
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
(75%)
ruth2017
Ruth
(68%)
pdavis2017
Davis
(90%)
awad2017
Awad
(54%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 108-62
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 106-64
trophy copy 2016 Champion
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 106-64
trophy copy 2015 Champion
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 105-65
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
awad2017
Awad
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 103-67
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
awad2017
Awad
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 100-70
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 98-72
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 97-73
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
awad2017
Awad
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 97-73
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
dempsey2017
Dempsey
pdavis2017
Davis
freeman2017
Freeman
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 96-72
trophy copy 2014 Champion
bader2017
Bader
macfarlane2017
Macfarlane
ruth2017
Ruth
pdavis2017
Davis
awad2017
Awad

Bellator returns this week with a pair of titles on the line at the top of the bill in “Happy Valley.”

Bellator 186 takes place Friday at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) puts his title on the line for the first time when he meets veteran challenger Linton Vassell (18-5 MMA, 7-2 BMMA). Bader is more than a 3-1 favorite in the fight and is one of three unanimous picks on the main card from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, Emily Ducote (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) and Ilima Macfarlane (6-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) meet in a rematch for the inaugural Bellator women’s flyweight title. Macfarlane won the first fight less than a year ago by unanimous decision. She’s a heavy favorite in the rematch and another unanimous pick from our staff members.

The other unanimous nod on the main card comes in the form of former 205-pound champion Phil Davis (17-4-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) against Leo Leite (10-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who is making his promotional debut. Davis is the heaviest favorite on the main card at more than 6-1. He’ll be fighting in front of a friendly crowd at Penn State – he wrestled there in college.

Another Nittany Lions wrestling product is Ed Ruth (3-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), who takes on Bellator newcomer Chris Dempsey (11-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a middleweight bout on the main card. Ruth is a 9-1 pick from our staff members. And in the closest fight from a picks perspective, as well as in the betting lines, Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has a 6-4 edge over Saad Awad (20-9 MMA, 8-6 BMMA) in their lightweight fight to open the main card.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Bader, Macfarlane, Ruth, Davis and Awad are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on Bellator 186, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

5 reasons to watch Bellator 186, where a once-disrespected challenger gets his wish

After he signed a free-agent deal with Bellator, former UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader was booked to face Muhammed Lawal in his promotional debut, but an injury forced “King Mo” from the fight. That gave Bader the opportunity to meet then-light heavyweight champion Phil Davis at Bellator 180.

Bader won by split decision, and the victory earned him the first major title of his 10-year career. On Friday Bader looks to defend that title when he meets Linton Vassell in Bellator 186’s main event.

In the co-main event, Ilima Macfarlane faces Emily Ducote for the Bellator’s inaugural women’s flyweight title.

Former champ Davis also appears on this card and welcomes Bellator newcomer Leo Leite to the promotion.

Bellator 186 takes place at Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus in University Park, Pa., with a main card on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. Put the lesson to good use

Not long after Bader took the light heavyweight title from Davis at Bellator 180, Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie he was leaning toward Bader vs. Lawal for the freshly minted champ’s first title defense. That didn’t sit well with Vassell, who defeated former champ Liam McGeary at Bellator 179.

“I do feel disrespected,” Vassell told MMAjunkie. “I feel like what I’ve done is not enough. Beating former world champions is not enough. If you’ve got a bigger name, then you’re going to get the fight – win or lose. No disrespect for Mo, but his recent record is win, loss, win, loss.

“When Scott was asked the question (about who was next), he didn’t even mention my name. He just said, ‘Yeah, Mo will be next in line.’”

In August, the promotion gave Vassell (18-5 MMA, 7-2 BMMA), who is No. 14 in the most recent USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings, what he wanted: the opportunity to fight the No. 3-ranked Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) for his title.

This is Vassell’s second shot at the light heavyweight crown. In his previous title fight, then-champ Emanuel Newton submitted him in the fifth round. Vassell had the champ in trouble multiple times during that contest with his own submission game, but he couldn’t force the tap.

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Vassell, who is in the midst of a three-fight winning streak, has waited three years for his second shot at Bellator gold. He’s said he learned from his first title fight loss, and we’ll find out if that’s true at Bellator 186.

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2. Run it back with higher stakes

Macfarlane has had a wild ride in MMA. She made her pro debut in 2015 and won that fight with a 10-second knockout. Video of the stoppage quickly went viral after her overmatched opponent, Katie Castro, was dubbed a “soccer mom.” Since then, Macfarlane has done an excellent job of shaking off whatever stigma came with that win. She’s now 6-0, and at Bellator 186, she meets Ducote for the inaugural flyweight title.

This is the second meeting between these two. In the first fight, Macfarlane scored a unanimous-decision victory. Since that bout, Macfarlane (6-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) has one win – a first-round armbar submission – while Ducote (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) has a submission win and decision victory to her name.

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The first matchup between these two was fairly even. Ducote had the advantage on the feet, but Macfarlane’s aggressive ground game won her the fight.

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3. Risky business

Former light heavyweight champ Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) meets promotional newcomer Leite at Bellator 186.

Even though this is Leite’s (10-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) first fight with Bellator, he’s no neophyte when it comes to combat sports. He enters this bout as a former dual-division titleholder with Legacy FC. He also sports a perfect 10-0 record. Leite has also won world championships in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The only mark against the Brazilian is that he hasn’t fought in nearly a year.

This is a high-risk, low-reward fight for Davis. Not only is he fighting at the school where he won an NCAA Division I national wrestling championship, but he also faces an opponent who lacks the name recognition of many of his former foes. If Davis, who is ranked No. 4 in the light-heavyweight division, loses this fight, his road back to a title shot could lengthen.

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4. The spoiler

Zach Freeman

Zach Freeman raised his profile considerably in his most recent fight. Freeman was the man Bellator picked to fight the much-hyped Aaron Pico in his pro debut. Freeman ran over Pico, submitting him in 24 seconds in front of a stunned crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) takes a considerable step up in competition at Bellator 186, where he faces 14-fight Bellator veteran Saad Awad (20-9 MMA, 8-6 BMMA), who has been in the cage with some of the best fighters in the promotion’s lightweight division.

Awad has had mixed results in those fights, but he’s a tough, well-rounded fighter who puts a lot of pressure on his opponents. Awad defeated Ryan Quinn by decision in his most recent bout.

If Freeman can get past Awad, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bellator fast-tracked him into a fight against a top-five lightweight in his next outing.

5. Stepping up

Ed Ruth (3-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) wanted a step up in competition for his fourth professional fight. He gets that in former UFC competitor Chris Dempsey (11-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who had a four-fight run with the UFC between 2012-2016.

During that time, he went 1-3, and his three losses all came via first-round knockout. In his most recent bout, Dempsey was knocked out in 40 seconds by Adam Hunter at a regional show (Hunter signed with the UFC after that victory).

Ruth, a three-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion at Penn State, turned pro in MMA in 2016.

Since inking his deal with Bellator, Ruth has looked like a solid prospect. He’s still working on his situational awareness, and he does rely heavily on his wrestling, but he’s making steady progress. One thing in Ruth’s favor in this fight is Dempsey’s takedown defense, which was a mere 16 percent during his UFC tenure.

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For more on Bellator 186, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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