Best of Bellator: 2020 Recap

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It goes without saying, 2020 was a crazy year. The world of combat sports was affected in its own way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bellator MMA wrapped up a crazy year of operations this past Thursday with Bellator 254. The night was capped off with Juliana Velasquez dethroning Ilima-Lei Macfarlene for the women’s flywieght title. Here are some of the biggest moments from Bellator in 2020.

Bellator MMA Biggest Moments of 2020

Cris Cyborg Defeats Julia Budd (Bellator 238)

Bellator started it’s 2020 in a big way with the debut of women’s MMA icon, Cris Cyborg. After parting ways with the UFC, the Brazilian looked to conquer Bellator’s featherweight division. She did just that when she TKO’d Julia Budd in the main event of Bellator 238.

Timothy Johnson’s Resurgence (Bellator 239)

Tim Johnson entered 2020 on a two fight skid. At Bellator 239, he squared off with a dangerous opponent, Tyrell Fortune. Johnson knocked out Fortune in the first round. This victory was the first of three for Johnson in 2020, as he went on to defeat Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo.

Bellator Cancels Due to COVID (Bellator 241)

Bellator 241 was to take place on March 13th, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. However, Scott Coker announced on the day of the event that it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Chandler Moves On (Bellator 243)

“Iron” Mike faced Benson Henderson in the main event of Bellator 243. This was a highly anticipated rematch fueled by bad blood. The night came quickly to a close when Chandler landed a devastating shot that dropped Henderson. Soon after, it was announced that Chandler’s contract with Bellator was up and opted to test free agency. On September 17th, it was announced that Chandler signed with the UFC.

New King at Light Heavyweight (Bellator 244)

Vadim Nemkov challenged Ryan Bader for Bellator’s light heavyweight strap on August 21st, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Nemkov looked dominant throughout, and in the second round Nemkov landed a series of strikes that dropped Bader for good. Nemkov, now 14-2 professionally, will look to make his first title defense in 2021.

Jon Fitch Retires (Bellator 246)

Jon Fitch, a long time vet of the UFC, made his Bellator debut at Bellator 199 where he defeated Paul Daley. In his sophomore appearance for Bellator, he fought Rory MacDonald for the welterweight championship. This fight ended in a draw. At Bellator 246, Neiman Gracie submitted the former WSOF Welterweight Champion. After the fight, Fitch announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, ending his 18-year career.

James Gallagher Wins Again (Bellator Milan 3)

The Irishman took on Cal Ellenor in the main event of Bellator’s October 3rd card. The bantamweight prospect make quick work of Ellenor as he submitted him via rear-naked choke in the first round. The 24-year old improved to 11-1 with an 82% finish rate.

New King of the Middleweights (Bellator 250)

Gegard Mousasi faced Douglas Lima in the main event of Bellator 250 to crown the vacant 185-lb. throne. This highly anticipated match up culminated in a chess match between two highly skilled technicians. Although the fight was close, “The Dreamcatcher” did enough to earn the judges’ nod and win the Bellator Middleweight Championship.

AJ McKee Inches Closer to Gold (Bellator 253)

AJ McKee shocked the world with his spectacular finish of Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 253. This match up took place on November 19th, as a part of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix semi-finals. McKee was able to secure a neck crank in just over a minute in the first round to earn the submission victory and improve to 17-0.

The Queen is Dethroned (Bellator 254)

After holding the title for more than three years and defending it four times, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defended her Women’s Flyweight Championship against  Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 253. Entering the bout, the fighters had a combined record of 21-0. The title bout went all 25 minutes and went to the judges scorecards. Juliana Velasquez earned a unanimous decision victory to win the Bellator Women’s Flyweight Championship.

What was your favorite moment of the year? Comment below!

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Brian Knight is a contributing writer and active editor for MMASucka since November 2020. He is currently authoring his first book.

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