The Bellator European series got off with a bang in Newcastle, with new stars emerging, a few upsets and a raft of exciting finishes: mixed martial arts as it has always been, in other words. The seismic shift was that the event was shown in prime time on Channel 5, as the fight league seeks to find a new audience for the sport, while giving a firm base for the sport’s aficionados to access events with more ease. That continues this weekend when Sky Sports shows a live Bellator event for the first time, a high profile match-up between renowned welterweights Paul Daley and Michael ‘Venom’ Page. The event will be shown on DAZN in the USA and Canada.
In all, the announcements made last week with the Channel 5 and Sky Sports deals were momentous for the sport, Channel 5 showing 6 events live in UK prime time in 2019, while twenty events from North America will be shown live on Sky. Huge advancements, and with the UFC shown on BT Sport, MMA fans in the UK and Ireland have the two main promotional fight leagues fully covered. It was also announced on the night that Tim Wilde will face former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus in the main event at the next live European event in Birmingham in May. It is believed the third UK event will take place in London in June.
On Saturday night, though, Sunderland man Ryan Scope, competing in the main event, might have felt hard done by from the judges after taking leading Bellator 155lb contender Patricky Pitbull to the wire with a smart performance, using his stand up to good effect, attacking and slowing the legs of the Brazilian, known for his right hand and left hook power. Scope was dropped once, but in a close fight, lost by split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 28-29, but raised his stock in the final round of three.
Pitbull is at the very top of the food chain in the Bellator lightweight division, and this was a demonstration that the best British fighters can live with the top overseas stars.
It was a tough night, but a steep learning curve for former reality television star Aaron Chalmers, who suffered the first loss of his career to Corey Browning – now calling himself the ‘star slayer’ after consecutive victories over Baby Slice and the former ‘Georgie Shore’ cast member – in a fight where the Newcastle native learnt so much about himself, and that a fight is not over until the referee calls a halt.
In this instance, Chalmers had Browning all but finished after an attack on the feet, flooring the Nashville fighter, but then walked away believing the fight was over.
Referee Leon Roberts looked close to finishing the fight, but Browning recovered, and Chalmers, letting his foe off the hook, had to battle back as Browning showed a strong ground game.
At one round apiece going into the third, Chalmers was submitted by heel hook just 20 seconds into that final stanza.
Scottish lightweight Chris Bungard pulled off a fine first round rear naked choke submission victory over Terry Brazier, his celebration afterwards as he leapt out of the fighting arena symbolic of the delight at defeating an opponent who has been marked as one of the rising stars of the roster from the European and UK lightweights.
Fabian Edwards defeated Lee Chadwick in another learning fight, winning comfortably in a three-round decision and showing all his wares, though it is understood that the event’s commissioner Mike Mazzulli has instructed Chadwick that a move to light-heavyweight may be a pre-requisite on his next performance, with the veteran, in his 39th fight, having missed weight and been the equivalent of a heavyweight on fight night when he stepped into the combat arena.
The Bellator bandwagon now moves to New York for Wednesday, where Daley and Page will go head-to-head before leaving for the Mohegan Sun Resort in Connecticut where they will fight for a semi-final place in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, the winner moving onto a contest against Douglas Lima, the former champion, likely some time in June or July.
Lima defended the belt against Daley in London in July 2016, winning unanimously on points. It remains a 50/50 fight, and the most anticipated all-British clash of all time.
As Daley himself said this week, this is the equivalent of Chris Eubank against Nigel Benn, one of Britain’s biggest rivals and grudge fights. In other words, expect fireworks for the first live event on Sky Sports.
Bellator Newcastle: Pitbull vs. Scope Main Card Results:
Patricky Pitbull (21-8) defeated Ryan Scope (11-2) via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Corey Browning (5-2) defeated Aaron Chalmers (4-1) via submission (heel hook) at 0:20 of round three
Chris Bungard (14-4) defeated Terry Brazier (10-2) via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:06 of round one
Fabian Edwards (6-0) defeated Lee Chadwick (24-14-1) via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Preliminary Card Results:
Arunas Andriuskevicus (15-4) defeated James Mulheron (11-3) via TKO (doctor stoppage) at 0:42 of round three
Jim Wallhead (30-11) defeated Abner Lloveras (22-11) via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Cal Ellenor (8-2) defeated Nathan Greyson (6-3) via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:49 of round one
Nathan Rose (7-1) defeated Ranjeet Baria (3-1) via KO (punch) at 4:59 of round one
Justin Burlinson (4-0) defeated Maciej Gierszewski (4-4) via submission (rear naked choke) at 4:04 of round one
Luke Westwood (2-0) defeated Richard Kallos (0-1) via TKO (punches) at 1:332 of round three
Ashley Reece (7-1) defeated John Ross (2-2) via TKO (punches) at 3:42 of round one
Tommy Quinn (8-5) defeated Martin Hudson (4-7) via TKO (punches) at 3:02 of round one
Kieran Lister (4-0) defeated Davie McLaughlin (2-2) via TKO (punch) at 1:19 of round one
Joseph Calboutin (2-0) defeated Milad Ahady (2-1) via KO (punch) at 3:04 of round one
Mindaugas Gerve (4-2) defeated Tony Mustard (8-5) via TKO (injury) at 1:14 of round one