Bellator 220 Main Card Recap
Rory MacDonald (C) vs. Jon Fitch
Though Rory MacDonald came into this fight to defend his belt, his match-up against Jon Fitch marked the final opening round of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix. What was unique about this match-up was the fact that both Fitch and MacDonald previously found themselves beating everybody except the champion during their peak years in the UFC.
Back in 2008, Jon Fitch went into his welterweight title fight against Georges St-Pierre whilst riding an eight-fight winning streak. He lost the fight via unanimous decision but would continue defeating everybody not named GSP until 2011.
Starting in 2011, and over the course of the next five years, Rory MacDonald would defeat everybody not named Robbie Lawler. Unfortunately for Macdonald, Lawler reigned as the UFC welterweight champion when he was finally given a UFC welterweight title fight in 2015. Though MacDonald gave the champion everything he could handle, he was defeated via TKO in the fifth round.
Rory came out and immediately went on the attack. Fitch dove in for the takedown and the fight was on. As the fight unfolded, we saw the very characteristics that made both Jon Fitch and Rory MacDonald so effective against elite welterweights throughout their entire careers. We saw MacDonald’s effective striking and his creative jiu-jitsu. We also saw Jon Fitch’s tenacious takedowns, and his ability to relentlessly grind down his opponents. It almost felt weird that these two had never fought beforehand.
The match-up proved to be tightly contested. One judge scored the fight 48-46 for Jon Fitch, while the other two judges scored it 47-47. As a result, this fight was ruled a majority draw. As is the case with any draw, the champion retains their belt. However, after this draw, Fitch is now out of the welterweight tournament and MacDonald will advance to the next round. Oddly enough, Jon Fitch had the only winning scorecard from the judges. Despite this fact, he is eliminated from the tournament strictly because Rory MacDonald is still technically the champion.
Yikes..only in MMA.
Ilima-Lei MacFarlane (C) vs. Veta Arteaga
Undefeated Bellator female flyweight champion and rising star, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was aiming to extend her title defense run to three. Her opponent, Veta Arteaga was looking to push her consecutive wins to three, but more importantly, she was aiming to capture the Bellator flyweight title.
The first two rounds proved to be highly competitive. As such, it appeared that the champion had a difficult challenge in front of her. Unfortunately, like the main event, this fight ended with somewhat of a black cloud hovering above it as well. MacFarlane landed a vicious elbow on a grounded Arteaga, and it split her forehead wide open. After the gash was reviewed by the doctor, the contest was waved off. Ilima-Lei MacFarlane defeated Veta Arteaga via TKO doctor stoppage at 1:50 of the third round.
Due to the controversial nature of this title defense, it would be prudent for Bellator to re-book the match-up right away. MacFarlane sounded more than willing to do it again in her post-fight speech. “Let’s run it back, girl. You 100% deserve it.”
Phil Davis vs. Liam McGeary
Both being former Bellator light-heavyweight champions, Phil Davis and Liam McGeary know their way around the Bellator cage. Having fought each other in the past, they’re both very familiar with competing against one another as well. Davis dethroned McGeary via dominant unanimous decision back in 2016. This rematch would be an opportunity for McGeary to prove his defensive wrestling had improved since their first encounter. It would also be an opportunity for him to beat the man who took his title. For Davis, this was a fight that he needed to win to get back on track. He recently lost a close split-decision against Vadim Nemkov and needed to rebound.
Surprisingly, McGeary and Davis spent the first round of their rematch on the feet. Davis didn’t even appear to consider shooting for the takedown. In the second round, Davis began landing unchecked leg kicks on McGeary. They looked to be taking their toll and winning him the fight.
In the third round, Davis landed a straight left that rattled McGeary. This provided Davis with the opportunity to force a quick take-down on the Englishman. Having top position, Davis began landing vicious elbows that would ultimately end the fight. Phil Davis defeated Liam McGeary via TKO at 4:11 of the third round. McGeary appeared to have a broken jaw, but a smile on his face.
Benson Henderson vs. Adam Piccolotti
When Benson Henderson made the jump over to Bellator MMA in early 2016, he aspired to become a champion in both the lightweight and the welterweight divisions. Although he lost in both of his title fights, he is now working hard to climb back to the top of the lightweight ladder. His commitment to this goal was solidified when he signed a new and exclusive long-term contract with Bellator back in November 2018. Adam Piccolotti would be his first fight since he signed the new contract and it wouldn’t be an easy test. In four years-time, Piccolotti had competed in Bellator nine times. He was looking to improve his promotional record to 8-2, with a win over the former UFC lightweight champion.
Benson survived a first-round scare when Adam Piccolotti took his back and attempted to apply a rear-naked choke submission. Though Benson avoided being choked out, the fight wouldn’t get any easier for him. In fact, the battle was back-and-forth for the full 15-minute fight duration. In a close split-decision, Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson defeated Adam Piccolotti. The crowd booed the decision against their hometown hero, but this was a fight almost too close to call.
Gaston Bolanos vs. Nathan Stolen
Gaston Bolanos came into this fight riding a three-fight winning streak. Nathan Stolen was on a three-fight losing streak and looking for his first win in the Bellator cage. Unfortunately for Stolen, Bolanos landed a left hand that would knock him on his butt. Bolanos followed him to the ground and finished the fight with a blitz of ground and pound. Gaston “The Dream Killer” Bolanos defeated Nathan Stolen via TKO at 2:21 of the first round. During his post-fight victory interview, an emotional Bolanos dedicated his win to his grandfather, who is currently battling cancer.