It’s been roughly a month since we’ve seen Bellator MMA in action, and Friday’s Bellator 283 card didn’t exactly scream “tentpole.” And that was before the card lost its main event, originally a lightweight title fight between Patricky Pitbull and Sidney Outlaw.
Then again, UFC London’s main event fizzled as well, which leads us to the question of the day: who won a weekend that saw the two major MMA promotions run uneven shows?
There’s two ways of looking at the main event question when it comes to these two shows: on one side, you can’t plan for injuries, and Tom Aspinall suffering a fluke knee injury 15 seconds into his planned main event with Curtis Blaydes is beyond anyone’s control. Then again, the same would apply to Bellator and lightweight champ Patricky Pitbull; past that, at least Bellator viewers got a main event, even if it was a less-than-inspiring performance that saw Jason Jackson just plain smother Douglas Lima with his wrestling.
So when it comes time to really compare and contrast the cards, maybe it’s just best to throw their respective main events to the wood heap, and check out what else they had to offer.
Turns out, Bellator 283 in Tacoma, Washington offered quite a bit, while UFC London had some bright spots, but failed to match the brilliance of the promotion’s March trip to the O2 Arena.
Expectations being what they are, the UFC was unlikely ever going to catch lightning in a bottle twice, try as they might. Even beyond the main event mishap, the few bright spots at UFC London were essentially the return of the Molly and Paddy show, with both Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett winning in spectacular fashion. McCann, in particular, managed to prove that lightning could strike twice, setting up her finish of Hannah Goldy with the same spinning back elbow that obliterated Luana Carolina in stunning fashion back in March.
There was also Nikita Krylov’s knockout of Alexander Gustafsson. Still, recognizing how far “The Mauler” has fallen in recent years takes a bit of the shine off what should regardless be considered Krylov’s most significant win to date.
Flip over to Bellator, where expectations were admittedly lower, and there were some pleasant surprises. Dalton Rosta made a statement in his long-awaited fight with Romero Cotton, setting up the finish with a perfectly-placed superman punch. Roman Faraldo lived up to his own prediction and bagged another first-round knockout. Lorenz Larkin saw his fight with Mukhamad Burkhamov end early due to an illegal elbow — it seems no promotion escaped the weekend without some sort of silliness — but Usman Nurmagomedov and Tofiq Musayev dazzled, announcing their presence as bonafide contenders in Bellator’s lightweight division.
That Musayev did so in his first fight in the promotion, absolutely crushing Sidney Outlaw with a knockout blow and likely stealing his title shot, should speak volumes. After losing champion after champion to the UFC — a steady stream of lightweight talent in Eddie Alvarez, Will Brooks, and Michael Chandler — Bellator’s 155 pound division is once again coming back around.
That right there might be the deciding factor. As entertaining as McCann and Pimblett were on Saturday, neither win can be claimed to hold much in the way of divisional relevance. Nurmagomedov and Musayev, on the other hand, appear to be neck-and-neck for a title shot, with Scott Coker even hinting during the Bellator 283 post-fight press conference that the division could see a lightweight grand prix sometime next year.
Bellator by a nose, then.