Fight Facts: Bellator 2019, a Year in Review

By Jay Pettry Jan 5, 2020

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Bellator MMA was busier than ever in 2019, visiting six countries and six different U.S. states with 27 events taking place all around the world. In this Fight Facts review, join us as we chronicle the story of Bellator this year, including several unique submissions, multiple records being set and a larger tournament than ever.

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Knockouts: 39
Technical Knockouts: 89
Submissions: 113
Unanimous Decisions: 117
Split Decisions: 27
Majority Decisions: 4
Draws: 5
No-Contests: 5

Year of the Pig

If Only You Got Your Broadcasts Straightened Out: 2019 saw a record number of events held by the promotion, with 27 cards spread across the calendar year. The previous record was 25, with that total consistent through 2011, 2012 and 2013.

A Cornucopia Of Carnage: A full 400 fights went down in 2019, smashing the previous record of 276 set in 2018. While there was also a greater number of events than ever before, 13 such cards featured at least 15 fights or more.

Saisho! Since forming in 2009, Bellator had never hosted an event in the nation of Japan. This all changed with Bellator 237 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, in December 2019. Bellator joins major organizations including the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pride Fighting Championships, Rizin Fighting Federation and One Championship that have put on shows in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Pure, Unadulterated Violence: Bellator 225 made major organizational history in August, as all 14 fights ended inside the distance. Although Bellator, the UFC, Pride, World Extreme Cagefighting and Strikeforce have all featured events where every fight ended by stoppage, none contained as many bouts as Bellator 225.

Taken By Tourneys: Two tournaments ended in 2019, first at heavyweight and then later at welterweight. Ryan Bader won the heavyweight strap by knocking out Fedor Emelianenko while Douglas Lima exacted revenge on Rory MacDonald to win back his 170-pound belt. Additionally, the promotion kicked off a 16-man tournament at featherweight, larger than either of the two aforementioned grand prix.

I Am Geoblocked: Bellator kicked off its European series in 2019, where it holds events live in various European countries as local showcases for home crowds. As a result, these events have either been tape delayed or placed to watch on the Bellator App for international audiences.

Want To Fight Him? One fighter made five trips to the Bellator cage this year: Michael “Venom” Page. The Brit lost for the first time in his career when Lima knocked him out, and he also scored four wins.

You Da Real MVP: "MVP" is one of two fighters to rack up four wins in 2019, the other being fellow Englishman Fabian Edwards. No other Bellator fighters even competed four times in the last 12 months.

Saad Occasion: A lone fighter dropped three bouts in 2019: Saad Awad. He suffered two stoppage losses and became the first fighter to record ten defeats inside the Bellator cage.

No Contendre: A record five bouts ended by no-contest in 2019, well above the prior high of three from 2014 and 2015. Three bouts ended via groin strikes, another due to an eye poke and one was overturned after knockout blows were subsequently deemed illegal. Two headlining fights ended via no-contest, more than any other year.

Still Keeping It Clean: No bouts ended in disqualification. In fact, no bout has ended in disqualification since Bellator 75 in 2012, where Eric Prindle landed an axe kick to Thiago Santos' groin.

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Can You Hear Me Knockin'?

Opposite Of UFC: One-upping the year before likely thanks to the increased quantity of fights, 2019 featured more knockouts (128) than ever before. Fighters were stopped by KO or TKO in 28 different ways.

Tony Hawk Would Be Proud: Raymond Daniels scored a stunning knockout via 720 punch when he whirled around and demolished Wilker Barros at Bellator Birmingham. No other fighter in major promotional history had ever landed that kind of knockout blow.

Eight Your Heart Out: Laying waste to Georgi Karakhanyan in eight seconds, A.J. McKee earned the fourth-fastest knockout in Bellator history in the opening round of the featherweight tournament at Bellator 228.

Practicing His Paddleboat Technique: From his back, Edwards knocked out Falco Neto Lopes with upkicks at Bellator Birmingham, scoring the first upkick-related knockout in promotional history.

He's Out! He's Way Out! Yusuke Yachi landed a flush soccer kick on Hiroto Uesako to record a knockout at Bellator 237, earning the first stoppage of its kind since A.J. Matthews demolished Charlie Rader with one at Bellator 70 in 2012.

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Never Stop Never Tapping

Championship-Level Fisherman : In merely 11 seconds, Aviv Gozali snatched up a heel hook submission on Eduard Muravitskiy at Bellator 225, earning the quickest tapout from any submission maneuver in Bellator history.

Go Gogo: Brent Primus earned the first gogoplata submission in organizational history by submitting Tim Wilde with one at Bellator Birmingham.

Never Mess With The Bull: On the Bellator 226 prelims, Batsumberel Dagvadorj locked up a bulldog choke on James Terry, picking up the first bulldog choke victory in Bellator history.

Suloev Was Not A Nice Guy: In a first for any Bellator fighter, Patrick Mix scored a Suloev stretch submission over Isaiah Chapman at Bellator 232. The maneuver, made famous by Amar Suloev, has been performed multiple times over in the UFC in the past.

Yamagracie: Submitting Awad and Daron Cruickshank in 2019, Goiti Yamauchi now holds the most submission victories in Bellator history with eight.

They Said It: Three fighters verbally submitted this year, accounting for three of the four in Bellator history. Wendle Lewis called a stop to his fight in nine seconds after eating several punches from Justin Burlinson, Awad audibly surrendered to an armbar from Yamauchi and Jason Perrotta called it quits on account of a knee injury against Romero Cotton.

Some Form Of Tap: When Lewis vocally submitted due to punches at Bellator 223, Burlinson earned the quickest submission in organizational history.

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The Golden Path

A Conveyer Belt: The most active weight class for the title pictures was welterweight, as the belt was on the line in all three stages of the tournament.

The Post-Title Era: Only one fighter prevailed in multiple title fights in 2019: Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. She won both of her flyweight championship bouts in 2019. She managed to accomplish the same feat in 2018, as did two other champs.

That Champ-Champ Sickness: Winning the heavyweight crown as the current light heavyweight king, Ryan Bader became the first double champ in Bellator history.

I Can Do That Too: Less than four months after Bader did it, Patricio Freire became the second simultaneous two-division champ in organizational history. As the featherweight kingpin, he moved up to lightweight and knocked out Michael Chandler to take that title as well.

Good Experiment, Never Again Though: At the time the Rizin bantamweight champ, Kyoji Horiguchi came over to Bellator to rematch Darrion Caldwell for his belt. When he beat Caldwell for the second time, he became the second fighter in major promotional history -- Alistair Overeem being the first with Strikeforce and Dream -- to serve as champ in two organizations at the same time. After suffering an injury, he has since vacated both belts before he had a chance to defend either one.

Collecting Dust: For the second year in a row, the light heavyweight belt was never put on the line. Champ Bader has not competed at 205 pounds since November 2017, and despite his inactivity in the division, 22 bouts at light heavyweight took place in 2019.

Weird Year For Champs: For the first time on either occasion in Bellator history, a title fight ended by a draw as well as a no-contest. MacDonald drew with Jon Fitch to retain his welterweight strap while Bader accidentally poked Cheick Kongo in the eye in their heavyweight encounter.

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Gambler's Paradise

Easy Odds: Of the 129 bouts that received betting odds from 5dimes this year, 96 favorites won (78 percent), six closed with even odds and 27 scored upsets.

Carey Scared Up Some Money: The biggest upset of the year came when +775 underdog "Scary" Daniel Carey put Gaston Bolanos (-1200) to sleep with a guillotine choke at Bellator 226. This is larger than any betting upset over in the UFC in 2019.

Very Slim Pickings: Including Carey, only three of 28 fighters closing as +500 underdogs or higher won their bouts. Chris Bungard (+525) tapped -750 favorite Terry Brazier at Bellator Newcastle while Luis Muro (+500) beat the -700 Nick Newell by split verdict at Bellator 232.

Why Even Bother Making A Line? Seven fighters clocked in as betting favorites above -1300 this year, and all seven won, including six by stoppage.

S-T-Y-L-E: The biggest favorite of the year came when -2000 Edwards knocked out +900 Lopes at Bellator Birmingham.

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I Am Overburdened

18 Percent? Not counting a few of the matches from the co-promoted event with Rizin in December, 72 bouts took place outside of standard weight classes, with 50 taking place at previously scheduled catchweights.

How Is There Stability? Twenty-five of the 27 events held this year featured catchweight bouts of some form or another. Only Bellator 230 and 231 had no fights where at least one fighter missed weight or a matchup was scheduled at a predetermined catchweight.

A Small Chicken Over: Six fighters missed weight for their bantamweight fights this year -- the most in any weight class -- ranging from .25 pounds heavy to almost seven pounds over.

Maybe Try Featherweight: The biggest weight miss belongs to Swayne Makana Lunasco, who in his MMA debut at Bellator 236 managed to blow past the bantamweight limit by 6.8 pounds. Lunasco still managed to win by stoppage, though, finishing Kaylan Gorospe with punches in the third round.

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