Bellator 180 took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City Saturday. Airing on Spike TV, the four fight card featured a main event of light heavyweight champ Phil Davis defending his belt against Ryan “Darth” Bader. Also on the bill, undefeated BJJ expert Neiman Gracie repped the Gracie family name at the big event, taking on Dave Marfone. Or it was on the bill, until time constraints forced it onto the Bellator NYC Pay-per-View.
Gracie (5-0) was a clear favorite over “Flexster” Marfone (5-2), who was making his Bellator MMA debut on the night.
Gracie ducked under a Marfone punch early, and immediately took his opponent down. As Marfone powered to his feet, Gracie clung to the back, and worked to get hooks in. He couldn’t quite take Marfone’s back, instead tying up one leg and controlling the action. After disengaging, Gracie actually landed a left that got Marfone’s attention, but Gracie then slipped.
Marfone, wisely, chose not to follow him to the ground. Gracie then managed to get the fight to the mat and worked to half guard, keeping an arm wrapped around Marfone’s neck. The Brazilian then briefly moved to full mount, but Marfone first got him back to half guard, then worked up to his feet. Marfone certainly showed he wasn’t lost on the ground against a high level BJJ expert.
Nearly adding another surprise to the night, Marfone pulled guard and threatened with a guillotine as the seconds ticked down in the first, but Gracie was having none of it.
Round two opened with Neiman Gracie mixing in some kicks to the head and body. While a takedown by Gracie was thwarted by Marfone, Gracie would later take the back and force the fight to the ground. Locking in a body triangle with half the second round remaining, it was not a good position for Marfone to find himself in. The rear-naked choke followed, and it wasn’t long before Marfone tapped!
Neiman Gracie def. Dave Marfone by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:27