Bellator 288: Key Takeaways and the Biggest Spectacle of the Night

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Bellator MMA made its return to the Windy City last night in spectacular fashion. Blistering wind and snow flurries did not keep fans out of the Wintrust Arena, as the seats were nearly filled to capacity by the start of the main card. With eight stoppages and two title fights last night, there was plenty of roars from the Chicago crowd throughout.

Bellator 288: Pitbull has No Answers, Corey Anderson Comes Up with the Wrong One, and the Biggest Spectacle of the Night

In the most incredible spectacle of the night, Tyrell Fortune, the #5 ranked contender of the heavyweight division, welcomed Chicago’s own, Daniel James, in the featured heavyweight contest of the main card. Late into round number one, Fortune forced the fight to the mat, and through a hectic scrabble, jumped on James’ back and locked in a deep rear naked choke.

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James weathered the storm, manipulated Fortune’s grip, and violently flipped his hips to escape the choke. James would go on later to tell the media, “Chicago got me out of that choke.”

In round two, James found an uppercut which would drop the highly-touted Fortune and pounce on his opponent to secure the ground and pound finish.

Pitbull has No Answers, Nurmagomedov Wins in Utterly Dominant Fashion

Patricky Pitbull took on Usman Nurmagomedov in a five round clash for the Bellator Lightweight Championship. Pitbull would be defending the title for the first time since winning it in at Bellator 270 in November of 2021.

From the first round bell, Nurmagomedov stabbed Pitbull with a variety of kicks—body teeps, leg strikes, and head kicks, which kept Pitbull guessing. After two rounds of competition, it was clear Pitbull had no answers for the 24-year-old Russian. Onlookers could nearly read on the face of Pitbull the feeling of utter confusion as he failed to find positive offense and effective defense. Pitbull froze on his feet from the blistering attacks of Nurmagomedov, but was hesitant to push forward knowing the grappling prowess of the now champion. The fight, which went the distance, could have been contended over a 10-round period and Pitbull still would not have had a clue about how to derail Nurmagomedov.

With 25-minutes in the books, Nurmagomedov’s hand was raised in victory and declared the new Bellator Lightweight Champion.

Anderson Forces the Takedown, Losing in the Main Event

In the main event, Corey Anderson would challenge Vadim Nemkov for the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship. As the pair had met before and their previous meeting ending in a “no-contest”, their fight was set to conclude the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix. The winner would take home the light heavyweight title and a check for one million dollars.

From the onset, Anderson looked for the takedown—something that proved to be effective in their first fight.  However, Nemkov was incredibly prepared for Anderson’s takedown efforts, thwarting all fifteen takedown attempts from “Overtime” throughout their twenty-five minute contest.

This proved to be Anderson’s downfall. Despite finding success when pushing the pace on the feet, Anderson would default back to closing the distance in an effort to secure a takedown. Perhaps, a good game plan on paper, but one that needed to be adapted. Nemkov would work the legs of Anderson and ultimately do enough to earn a unanimous nod from the judges to retain the Bellator Light Heavyweight Title.

It was announced that #1 contender Yoel Romero would challenge Vadim Nemkov for the light heavyweight title at Bellator 290 on Saturday, February 4th.

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