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2019 MMA Card of the Year: Bellator 225

Sometimes, the best cards could be right under your nose. When Bellator decided to change things up and go from Uncasville to Bridgeport, CT, they opened the door to a number of opportunities. In just one night, Bellator 225 became not just the best MMA card in Bellator MMA history, but all of 2019.

Taking place inside the Webster Bank Arena, Bellator 225 garnered a total gate of $648,141 with over 6,631 fans in attendance. They witnessed history, as all fourteen fights ended in finishes. Do you know how crazy that sounds? At UFC 208, arguably the worst event in UFC history, there was only one finish out of ten fights. That is right, only one! Being able to cover both events, it was something out of a dream and a nightmare. The former took over on this night, however.

The main event featured a rematch between Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov. A few months prior at Bellator 215 in February, both attempted to battle one another inside the Mohegan Sun Arena. Mitrione (13-7, 1 NC) hit an errant low left kick to the manhood of Kharitonov (29-7, 2 NC) in round two, forcing the big man to tumble down to the mat. It was a painful thing just to witness, and while the referee tried giving him a few minutes to recover, there was no way the fight was going to continue.

Mitrione was very open to the idea of a rematch, and Bellator 225 was born. There was a sense of panic any time Mitrione went for a kick, but everything ended up above the belt. Unfortunately for Mitrione, that was the only thing positive about his night. Kharitonov managed to take out Mitrione’s mouthpiece three separate times, with the latter getting frustrated every step of the way. The last time Matt’s mouthpiece came out was his downfall, as Kharitonov flattened him with a right and a few hammerfists.

That was the end of the night. The beginning of the night started with a few fireworks. It was during the prelims where the pace was set. Avi Gozali ended up submitting Eduard Muravitsky with a heel hook in the second bout of the night. He ended up crushing the record for the fastest submission in Bellator history with 11 seconds.

The fight after that ended just as fast. Sabah Homasi knocked out Micah Terrill with an overhand right just 17 seconds into the bout, the tenth-fastest KO in Bellator history. He called out Austin Vanderford, husband to Paige VanZant, who was fighting after him. “Mr. VanZant” out-wrestled Joseph Creer, and hit vicious shots that bloodied the challenger. The fight ended up being called in the second when Creer was unable to continue.

As we moved on up, the fights got even wilder. Ricky Bandejas knocked out Ahmet Kayretli via KO in round one, before we got to hometown hero Mike Kimbel v. Chris Disonell. Kimbel was winning the fight, using hard strikes to his advantage. One mistake, however, caught him and Disonell had him on the floor. Before the first round could come to an end, Kimbel was finished.

The final bout of the prelims was an interesting one. Nick Newell, who didn’t get a contract with the UFC after appearing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, was fighting for a contract. Nobody knew how this would go, but the hometown hero put on a true performance of a lifetime. He hit a few clubbing blows to the face of Corey Browning, and ended up putting him down to the mat. Suffocating him, Newell locked in an arm-triangle choke to secure the win, the support of the fans and a Bellator contract.

How could the main card compete with the prelims? Hold onto your butts, because the best was yet to come.

Tyrell Fortune submitted Rudy Schaffroth after two rounds. It was an offensive display for Fortune, who mangled his opponent. The heavyweight, who was finally making the main card, made it a point to protect his spot in the company when asked about Jake Hager. The former WWE star, who you can see on AEW TV now, has gotten opportunities Fortune believes he deserves. Be on the lookout for that potential matchup, as that has money written all over it.

Yaroslav Amosov submitted the always excentric David Rickels before it was the women’s turn to make some noise. Alejandra Lara, who may be one step closer to a title opportunity, knocked out Taylor Turner in the first round of her fight. There was a cool moment where she attacked Turner, paused to look at her work, and then went right back to pound on her.

The co-main event featured Vitaly Minakov, the former Bellator Heavyweight Champion, v. Timothy Johnson. After suplexing the hell out of Johnson and his mustache, Minakov ended it with a brutal right to the face of Johnson that scrambled him back towards the cage.

What more could you say about Bellator 225 other than it was a true piece of art? Rarely do you get a card that’s so virtually perfect top to bottom. In Bellator’s case, that card helped swing momentum their way as one Grand Prix ended and another one was starting. Perhaps Bellator should look into heading back to Bridgeport in 2020. Maybe, just maybe, lighting can strike twice.

No titles were on the line and the company’s biggest stars weren’t even scheduled to fight at Bellator 225. What they did have, however, was just a little bit of swagger that blew into something bigger than itself.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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