5 takeaways from Bellator 278 and 279

Women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)
Women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)

Bellator MMA returned to Honolulu, Hawaii, for back-to-back nights of action. Both events were balanced out with notable fighters and featured championship bouts.

Each night had its fair share of surprise outcomes, but the second was arguably the better overall card. The promotion crowned two new champions and concluded with a thrilling main event between Cris Cyborg and Arlene Blencowe.

The bantamweight Grand Prix brackets were also made official, so now itโ€™s clear who will be fighting one another and when. An enthusiastic crowd was on hand, which added to the promotionโ€™s presentation from a broadcast perspective.

The promotion has done well in the Hawaiian market and should consider adding more than one weekend to their annual lineup. This list will look at five takeaways from the events in Hawaii.

#5. Yancy Medeiros puts on a show on his Bellator debut

#Hawaii's Yancy Medeiros (16-8) victorious in return to the islands w/ unanimous decision victory over Emmanuel Sanchez (20-8) in #Bellator279 main card opener #BellatorHawaii #HawaiiMMA @ymedeiros

Yancy Medeiros had quite the debut when he fought former featherweight title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 279. The first bout on the main card set the bar for the fights that followed.

โ€˜The Kidโ€™ and โ€˜El Matadorโ€™ traded strikes for 15 minutes as the crowd cheered on. Medeiros was having more success and took Sanchez down on a few occasions. He used his size advantage to control Sanchez on the ground and earned a unanimous decision win. The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28, all in favor of โ€˜The Kid.โ€™

It will be interesting to see what the promotion has planned for both following the event. The loss extends โ€˜El Matadorโ€™s losing skid to three straight fights, while โ€˜The Kidโ€™ is a new face in the division.

#4. Interim Bellator bantamweight champion crowned

Another A+ promoBellator has something special with Stots and Sabatello in this 135 GP

The interim bantamweight champion was among the new champions crowned at the Hawaii events. Raufeon Stots finished Juan Archuleta after landing a knee to the head and followed up with ground strikes.

The fight between Stots and Archuleta was the second Grand Prix bout as Patchy Mix vs. Kyoji Horiguchi took place earlier. Stots looked great in his win over the former bantamweight champion. His most recent performances have made a strong case for why he should be considered a favorite to win the tournament.

'Supa' will now defend the interim bantamweight championship throughout the Grand Prix with the win. He could have two title defenses and an established title reign if he wins it all.

With current champion Sergio Pettis expected to be out of action all year, this is unique. An eventual title unification bout could see the interim champion have more title defenses than the reigning champion.

#3. Cyborg and Blencowe deliver a slugfest at Bellator 279

Women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)
Women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)

The main event of Bellator 279 exceeded all expectations and delivered quite the slugfest for the womenโ€™s featherweight championship. Cris Cyborg and Arlene Blencowe traded haymakers. The champion got the better of the exchanges against the challenger and opened up a significant cut above her left eye.

โ€˜Angerfistโ€™ didnโ€™t let the cut stop her as she remained active and tried swinging for a knockout. She caught Cyborg a few times, which earned her respect, but she couldnโ€™t match the number of strikes that landed.

It was a much better performance for Blencowe in the rematch than their first bout. She went the distance with the champion but lost via unanimous decision. 'Angerfist' is 39 years old, and it could be challenging to earn a third opportunity. But she can earn a title shot should Cyborg lose the title.

#2) Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix officially underway

๐•‹๐•™๐•– ๐•ฃ๐• ๐•’๐•• ๐•ฅ๐•  $๐Ÿ™ ๐•ž๐•š๐•๐•๐•š๐• ๐•Ÿ ๐•”๐• ๐•Ÿ๐•ฅ๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•ฆ๐•–๐•ค ๐Ÿ’ฐHereโ€™s how the #BellatorBWGP bracket looks after back-to-back nights of World Grand Prix action!Who are you picking to go all the way after #Bellator278 and #Bellator279? ๐Ÿ‘€

The Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix began during the two-night event in Honolulu, Hawaii. On Friday, Danny Sabatello and Enrique Barzola both earned a spot in the tournament following unanimous decision wins.

Sabatello and Barzola now advance to the tournament and will both compete against Leandro Higo and Magomed Magomedov respectively in June. With the brackets set, the Grand Prix officially began on Saturday.

Reining RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi and Patchy Mix kicked off the tournament at Saturdayโ€™s event. It was a very tactical fight that had a surprise outcome.

Mix managed to weather the strikes and got Horiguchiโ€™s timing down before taking the fight to the ground. He forced Horiguchi to fight his style and outgrappled him throughout the bout. Mix earned a unanimous decision win after all three judges scored the bout 48-47.

Raufeon Stots also capped off an incredible performance against Juan Archuleta by finishing him in the third round. He dropped him with a head-kick and finished him with strikes to become interim bantamweight champion and advance to the semifinals.

#1. Controversial ending to Bellator womenโ€™s flyweight championship main event

New women's flyweight champion Liz Carmouche (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)
New women's flyweight champion Liz Carmouche (Photo credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA)

Unfortunately for Bellator, many believed Fridayโ€™s main event ended in controversial fashion. Liz Carmouche defeated Juliana Velasquez via fourth-round technical knockout due to elbow strikes.

The win itself wasnโ€™t controversial, but the stoppage came off as being premature. Carmouche had Velasquez in the crucifix position and landed elbow strikes that didnโ€™t cause damage. There were only 13 seconds left in the round. And so, the champion should have been given an opportunity to defend herself unless the elbow strikes were causing significant damage. The referee stepped in and stopped the bout, which left Velasquez furious.

Velasquez was also winning the fight until the stoppage. Two of the three judges had her up 30-27 heading into the fourth round, while the other judge had it 29-28. During his post-event press conference, Bellator CEO Scott Coker mentioned that heโ€™s open to booking a rematch:

โ€œI donโ€™t mind running that fight back. I think that those ladies were definitely scrapping it. For me, I donโ€™t mind running that fight back.โ€ er
#Bellator278 Official Result: Liz @iamgirlrilla Carmouche (17-7) defeated Juliana Velasquez (12-1) via KO (elbows) at 4:47 of round four to become the new @BellatorMMA Flyweight World Champion

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Edited by Phil Dillon
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