Bellator MMA's final card of 2020 was headlined by a flyweight title fight between reigning champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and undefeated challenger Juliana Velasquez. In the end, it was the record of Macfarlane (11-1) that received its first blemish.
The main event of Bellator 254 saw both women struggle to land anything of importance over the first two rounds, although a guard pull by Velasquez (11-0) gave Macfarlane control as the second round ended. However, Velasquez started to land heavily in Round 3, which saw Macfarlane go for desperate takedowns she was unable to secure. The fourth frame saw Macfarlane able to put the Brazilian on her back, but it was the challenger that took Macfarlane to the ground and finished the fight strong. After 25 minutes, Velasquez was declared the winner via unanimous decision with scores of 48-47, 49-46, and 48-47.
Bantamweights were slotted as the co-main event as Magomed Magomedov faced off against Matheus Mattos. The fight was all Magomedov (17-1), whose superior grappling was an issue that Mattos (12-2-1) couldn't overcome. After three dominant rounds, Magomedov was awarded a unanimous decision with scores of 30-26, 30-27, and 30-27.
Linton Vassell made a statement in the Bellator heavyweight division by defeating promotional newcomer Ronny Markes. Vassell (20-8, 1 NC) was able to overpower Markes (19-8) and consistently took the Brazilian down. In Round 2, Vassell upped the pressure and started landing devastating punches in mount that forced the fight to be called off at the 3:37 mark.
The main card opened with a middleweight bout between Romero Cotton and Justin Sumter. Cotton (5-0) was able to control Sumter (7-4) on the ground and eventually took his back. After that, it was a textbook rear-naked choke at 3:36 of the first round.
In preliminary action, Shamil Nikaev (10-0, 1 NC) won a unanimous decision over Kemran Lachinov (10-3) with scores of 29-28 across the board; Grant Neal submitted Maurice Jackson with a rear-naked choke during the second round at 3:59; Cody Law (2-0) pounded out Kenny Champion (2-1) earning a stoppage at 4:44 of Round 3; and Billy Goff (3-2) swarmed a fatigued Robson Gracie Jr. (3-1) with punches to win at 1:46 of Round 2.
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