Photo Credit: @darrentill2 on Instagram

Sunday Morning Cornerman: Bellator 200 and UFC Fight Night 130

I get it, it’s Wednesday. But it was a tough week, Roseanne was cancelled give a guy a couple of days to put the pieces back together. With that I bring you………The Sunday Morning Cornerman.


This was a good weekend of fights. It was an American holiday weekend and two fights abroad. Bellator 200 from the SSE arena in London and UFC Fight Night 130 from Echo Arena in Liverpool were solid cards and here’s the recap of the fights that mattered.


Darren Till vs Stephen Thompson


I respect what Darren Till and Stephen Thompson were trying to do but for me it fell a little flat. Till cautiously pushed the action as Thompson moved and looked for openings. Styles make fights and these two styles made for a rather uneventful fight. If you had the fight even throughout then Till winning the fifth, which he clearly did, should have meant then when Till’s hand getting raised shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Note to fighters it’s hard to get your hand raised when you are fighting moving backward.  The fight seemed like a coronation for Till and Wonderboy just seemed happy to be there. The walkout, the crowd, and the post fight interview all seemed to be building towards a Conor McGregor moment and push for Till. He’s good but he’s no McGregor.


Technique Talk: There’s a lot to process here. Neither man wanted to overcommit and put themselves at risk. Now that’s Thompson’s game so I expect that from him but Till seemed like he wanted to match technique and strategy with Wonderboy. Again I respect the game of standup chess these two engaged in, but respect and entertained are two totally different things.


What’s next: There has been some talk in the post fight about Kamaru Usman for Darren Till. I like that fight. Both had very underwhelming fights against their last opponents, and honestly both could use some help promoting themselves for the title shot. I say match these guys up and hope for a good fight and if you don’t get one atleast you have given the division some clarity. For Thompson, let’s keep it clean and do Magny. Give Magny a shot at the top 5.


Gegard Mousasi vs Rafael Carvalho


MMA legend and future hall of famer Gegard Mousasi just made his future introduction a little longer as he added some hardware to his mantle by taking Rafael Carvalho’s Bellator middleweight belt. Mousasi in no real trouble ever, cruised past Carvalho by finding a takedown, mounting the Brazilian and then beating him until he and Dan Miragliotta had enough. It was quick work for Mousasi and sets him up for big things moving forward.


Technique Talk: Mousasi times Carvalho’s leg kicks and uses one to open up a takedown. Carvalho gets up a couple times, but the final takedown is a drag down by Mousasi, which he transitions into top position. He takes his time, works some strikes, that forces Carvalho to look for safety by giving up his back and then finishes with strikes from behind. Mousasi’s patience in his technique made it so Carvalho really had nowhere to go. Carvalho has faced fighters with a ton of experience on their fight like Joe Schilling and Melvin Manhoef, but this may be the most experienced ground fighter he has faced.  At 31, he has less fights in his future than his past but he can learn from this and come back strong.


What’s next: There has been some talk of Mousasi and Rory McDonald fighting and with MMA’s obsession with the champ-champ right now, I like that fight at 85 more than a catchweight. This way it opens McDonald up for fights at 85, really win or lose. For Carvalho,


Makwan Amirkhani vs Jason Knight


This fight was everything that Till vs Thompson was not. Animosity, ground fighting, shit talking, big shots and fighters getting dropped. This was an old school fight in the sense that the smaller weight fighters used to just get after it and not get overly consumed with where their careers were going. These two talked cash shit through the whole process and backed it up with a good fight.


Technique Talk: Amirkhani’s psychological warfare may have worked early and I mean very early but it also got him clipped. He was trying to get cute in there and he was a little wreckless. Now it was a great couple of punches by Knight that sat his ass down but he left himself open. However, in the second and third it was his wrestling and his prowess on the mat that alllowed him to grind out a win by staying away from what Knight does well. He went into the rubber guard and lived to tell about it.


What’s next: Neither one of these guys is ranked and probably shouldn’t be. Arnold Allen who beat Amirhkani should probaby get a shot at the top 15 next. He probably deserves a name. I’d give Amirhkani Calvin Kattar who’s at the bottom of the featherweight rankings why not?


Michael Venom Page vs David Rickels


The most exciting fighter in Bellator maybe in MMA was back in action taking on the hard to finish and hard to break, David Rickels. Page did both. Frustrating Rickels at every turn, Page utilized his herky-jerky in and out style to land big shots on the “Caveman.”  The final shot was one in that did what Page described as exploding Rickel’s orbital.


Technique Talk: Page thrives in space and Rickels gave it to him.  Now when I say gave it, Page is also someone it’s hard to take space from. He moves well. He’s a little bit Dominick Cruz, a little bit Anderson Silva and a little bit Roy Jones. Which is a tough style to handle. Short bursts, mean an opponent must maintain ultimate focus. Page seeks out those openings and destroys opponents when he finds them.


What’s next: Time to get serious. Page vs Benson Henderson. Page has been a showcase fighter for a couple of years now. It’s time to put him in there with someone who has seen it all and can put this ass on the canvas whenever he wants to. Page needs some adversity so we can see what we have in this young man.


Neil Magny vs Craig White


Neil Magny has fought a lot of high level guys and picked up wins. On this night, he fought a “Thundercat”. White seemed game early but in the end Magny was too much and showed the brit, it’s a different level in the big show.


Technique Talk: Magny’s calm is what stood out to me in this fight. White came out pushing the action, although not with strikes, he looked to want to control the distance and the level. Magny remained calm and when he had Craig against the fence leaned him right into the knee that started it and finished it from the top.


What’s next: I said it earlier and I’ll say it again. I like Magny against Thompson. I’d like to see White again, this time against someone who is more on his level.


Phil Davis vs Linton Vassel


Former Bellator Light Heavyweight champion Phil Davis improved to 19-4 overall and picked up his second straight win turning the lights out on Linton Vassell in the third.  Davis is 6-1 in Bellator which is insane to think considering how long it felt like he was in the UFC and how young he is. Bellator divisions are always tricky to figure out but this would seem to position him for a rematch with 205 lbs champion Ryan Bader. Their first fight was a split decision win for Bader and these two seem at the very top at 205 lbs not just in Bellator but in the world.


Technique Talk:  Davis has a very unique style, moving his head and always looking for openings in the stand-up. Vassell caught the low kicks of Davis early, which looked to be a problem for the former Penn State standout. But it may have lowered Vassells right hand which led to him eating a Davis high kick to end the second. That showed Davis the kick was available and in the third, he turned the lights out on Vassell.


What’s next: For Phil Davis, it might be time for him and Ryan Bader to run it back. Bader has his hands full right now with the Heavyweight Grand Prix but whenever he’s done Davis is next. For Vassell who knows, the divisions in Bellator are always very fluid. Of the fighters I found listed for this division, Alessio Sakara, Feijao and a rematch with Liam McGeary are all fights I would tune in for.


Trending up, Trending Down


Trending up:


Phil Davis – Davis looked good and a title shot appears to be next.


Trending Down:


Stephen Thompson – I feel like the act is getting old and the results aren’t there. (I get it only 3 losses, just not excited to see him fight)


Trending up:


Aaron Chalmers-People have their doubts because of the reality show thing, this kid can scrap and he has personality.


Trending Down:


David Rickels-He’s still young. But the dreaded verbal submission, while it was probably the smart thing to do, isn’t a good look.


Trending Up:


Tom Breese- We have been saying Breese’ name for a minute, hopefully now the medicals are all lined up for him to go on a nice run.


Trending Down:


Daniel Kelly-One minute he’s beating Rashad Evans(albeit a shot Rashad Evans) next thing he’s getting KO’d in the prelims. He’s still 13-4 but he sure as hell ain’t trending up.


Oh word?:


Gegard Mousasi was on Bellator 200 and UFC 200.


Say what?


“You’re chin’s weak, boy”  


“Get in here, bitch”


Jason Knight to Makwan Amirkhani in the second round of their fight.


Not for nothing:


……..but I’m kind of more excited about the 205 division in Bellator then in the UFC.


……..but Stephen Thompson played the good guy here and let this fight go down and it really didn’t do him any favors.


…….but Bader and Cormier might be the most interesting fight at 205 lbs right now. (I know they are in different promotions)


…….Anderson Siliva was a bad boy but he never had fools quitting……MVP does.


…….but Makwan Amirkhani and Tom Breese could use the old school UFC PR push.


…….but no matter who Neil Magny beats, he still reminds of my boy’s uncle from back in the day.


…….but maybe a bigger deal should have been made…..I mean it was the 200th Bellator.


……..Brendan Fitzgerald is either intentionally or unintentionally starting to sound like Mike Goldberg.


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