Bellator 215 and 216 – A (sort of) Review

215 and 216. What does that mean to you? I tell you what it means to me, how many hours it felt like I wasted this weekend watching these absolute dumpster fires. After the train wreck of UFC 234 last weekend MMA fans around the world were raring to go with these Bellator events. It’s not breaking news to suggest that Bellator’s talent pool is a lot thinner than the UFC’s, but they have the ability to put on some great cards, and after 234 the ball was in Bellator’s court to knock one out the park. On paper, Bellator 215 seemed lacklustre. I mean there was a little intrigue there with the likes of Mitrione fighting, but as a main event? An actual main event of a numbered card? Quite frankly it was embarrassing. As many fighters on the undercard were fighting for a hot meal and warm place to sleep tonight, you’d expect them to seem hungry. Wrong. You wouldn’t get this many phone ins as a 999 operator in Peckham. Regardless, it was a sign of things to come. The entire result was a metaphor to everyone who stayed up to watch this weekend’s joke of back to back cards. The ending of 215 was fitting, as we all sat up for hours, eager to be entertained, and once we finally got to the grand reveal, we were kicked square in the balls for having the audacity to even think that Bellator might pull something special out the bag. Our time, slowly being filled up like an overflowing septic tank, every hour ticking by wondering how on earth I’m ever going to get this portion of my life back. I would usually break down every fight of the main card, but quite frankly, there’s no point. Just reading the line up, it was a who’s who of who the fuck is that, no disrespect to the fighters, at that level they need a platform, but that shouldn’t be on a numbered card, on primetime, that people either need to pay or subscribe for. 

216 was better, in the way that stepping on lego barefoot is better than being shot in the kneecap. *breathes deeply* I understand this is sounding harsh, but honestly I love MMA, and I have so many issues with the UFC, the politics, how it’s run, and how they’ve been so outlandishly corrupted. To me, we need competition, it drives innovation and anytime there’s somewhere else for the fighters to work that’s absolutely amazing. I want Bellator to succeed. I want it to be a genuine competitor and a solid rival, I want there to be as many viable places to fight as possible and honestly Bellator has the blueprint to do this. Good budget, TV deals, subscription deals, a good roster, good MMA and boxing minds behind the scenes, and that’s why things like this make me so angry and frustrated. Instead of being an alternative they’re trying to be a clone, and it seems pathetic. Take nothing away from the fighters, they put it all on the line, so let’s just have a little rundown, at least, of 216 because quite frankly the card looked great on paper. In practise? Well the opener was okay, Loureda’s been on many MMA fans minds for a while now for… purely, combat reasons. She had a good showing, the tae kwon do prodigy really showed off her skills and got a nice early finish with some ground and pound. The next fight was good too, I was really looking forward to watching Amosov fight, any former sambo champion is always an interest for me and against a veteran like Erick Silva? Guaranteed fireworks am I right? No. Couple of slams, and Amosov looked okay but his record looked so much more impressive that his performance. Now that the little bit of praise I had is out the way, we can get to the nitty gritty.

Kongo vs Minakov holy mother of Christ this was just the gift that kept on giving. Being billed as a fight with guaranteed action, where the commentary team were listing all the first round knockouts between these two and the sheer power both possessed we expected as least a bit of back and forth. Roy Nelson literally grew his beard waiting for either men to do anything, I’d be surprised if over say 15 strikes were thrown at all. I physically exhausted myself more lifting a beer to my lips than Kongo did until the last 30 seconds of every round. Boring, disappointing fight here, especially considering Bellator wouldn’t stop praising Minakov toting him as one of the worlds best heavyweights. He’s not even the world’s best at lethargically grabbing a single leg on Chiek Kongo. I’m lost for words, this was horrific. Regardless, Minakov should have cruised to an easy decision, he got the better of most the exchanges and laid on Kongo for an entire round, and other than the last 30 seconds of the fight which was admittedly great from Kongo, devastating knees from the clinch, it was pretty much all Minakov. But just as you thought the two men in the ring were the worst part of this ordeal, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and fucking Daredevil at ringside scored a UD for Kongo. Somehow. It was silly, but I wasn’t even mad. It was a terrible fight, and the first time I’ve seen Minakov fight live. The clinical killer I’ve heard so much about killed nothing but my excitement for the rest of this card.

One of the greatest strikers to ever live was up next. The absolute world beater, the journeyman who has caused waves and utilised his world class striking to clean house of the divisions in every promotion he’s been in. Someone who we consider to be in the conversation of one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. That’s right. BIG COUNTRY ROY NELSON. He was fighting some Croatian guy. But in all seriousness, on paper this is a great fight, Cro Cop was on a staggering 9 fight win streak and Nelson is always in with a shot, he has a win over Mirko in the past and has super heavy hands. Either way, this was gonna be exciting. Well their first fight was. In this fight we saw a 98% pure muscle Cro Cop who’s molten hot piss could literally slice USADA’s rule book clean in half, which is handy, as the only testing going on here was Bellator continuously testing my patience with this bullshit booking. Nelson looked how we all felt watching this. Tired, bruised, overweight. Cro Cop continuously landed some nice uppercuts in the clinch, and the bionic man even threw some kicks for good measure. Despite Nelson taking the last round after a nice single leg, I was seriously on my last leg. This was boring, and considering Mirko looked like he was injecting fortified dragon blood I expected so much more from one of my favourite ever fighters. Regardless, he avenged his loss and we go on too… the main event.

If Roy Nelson’s figure was a main event, it would be this. I’ve spoken previously about how Bellator tries to be a UFC clone. Since their success with Conor and WWE like promotion and trash talking drawing huge numbers and creating storylines and intrigue behind fights, Bellator thought, do we have the capacity for this? No? Fuck it, we’ll give it a bash anyway. So they did the exact same thing. But instead of a charismatic Irishman with an exciting style, they had two Englanders with the microphone skills of a wet sock. This was booked as a heated grudge match between two warriors whose hate for each other supersedes the realm of mixed martial arts. In the UFC, McGregor and Aldo had huge philosophical differences on the meaning of what it is to fight, on the pride and skill that represents not only themselves, but their hometowns, their blood and their families. They didn’t see eye to eye because talent and hard work weren’t enough for either men, it was more, it went deeper, the entire landscape of western MMA was on the cusp of change and which way was it gonna go? Daley and MVP pushed each other once and I think one called the other’s Mum a slag. Wow. Riveting stuff. And you could tell that their blood feud was boiling over after the first round which, and I’m not just saying this, was the worst round of anything I’ve ever seen. Overall, minus 7 punches were thrown. MVP was his usual catastrophically overrated, elusive self, and in the second round Daley decided to forget everything he knew and stood for and wanted to be like Khabib. If Khabib developed limes’ disease, had no cardio and completely forgot what it meant to grapple. In a tightly contested match, MVP just got the nod due to Daley just being awful and gassed in the final round, winning it at first but getting one too many things revered.

As a whole it is quite clear I was not happy with these cards. Bellator has the potential to be so much better and the whole idea of this weekend was just ridiculous. 2 numbered cards one after the over? Literally no one on the first one then seemingly stacking the second? And what was cyber Cro Cop about? Just book the Fedor retirement match and call it a day. I will struggle to watch events going forward, but I will for the sake of the website and journalistic integrity or some shit. There are still loads of amazing talents at Bellator, I just hope the shows are booked better going forward. We just need more. I stayed up until 3AM, watched 5 fights, and it was 6AM. How? How does that even happen? Let’s just hope the UFC saves the weekend and we can at least see Cain back to his former glory. But hey, at least we got to see Loureda.

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