Saturday night at the Forum was full of dramatic fights and explosive finishes as Bellator 214 put the finishing touches on the promotion’s year-long heavyweight tournament and decided a couple of new contenders in the process.
Local fighters packed the preliminary card, and California-based fighters Desmond Torres (Irvine), Craig Plaskett (LA), Ryan Lilley (Thousand Oaks), Jay Jay Wilson (San Diego), and Thor Skancke (Woodland Hills) all picked up impressive wins before the event went live for a global audience.
But not only were fans treated to some impressive performances from the native fighters, they also witnessed a surprising amount of violent early finishes. Over the course of the entire night, only three fights got out of the first five-minute round, with Plaskett’s dominant decision victory over San Diego’s Ian Butler and grappling ace AJ Agazarm’s underwhelming debut in his decision loss to Jesse Roberts taking just enough time to force the last two untelevised bouts into the dreaded “post-lim” slot as the stadium emptied after the main event.
The main card opened with a stellar showing from Torrance’s Adel Altamimi (who has one of the most incredible backstories in MMA) channeling his training partner Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord powers into a slick armbar win in just over a minute before local favorite Juan “The Spaniard” Archuleta took on Ricky Bandejas. After a close — and very entertaining — three-round battle, Archuleta picked up his 22nd career victory in a decision over Bandejas, likely putting the bantamweight standout in line for a title shot.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as well for Archuleta’s training partner, Whittier’s Aaron Pico, who was knocked out in devastating fashion while trying to put away Henry Corrales (who moved from SoCal to train in Arizona). After a minute-long war that looked like MMA’s version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, the 22-year-old prospect got caught by a right hand that knocked him unconscious while still on his feet before crumpling to the ground with another blow. Now 4-2 in MMA, the former boxing and wrestling star still has plenty of time to rebound from the loss, and he should have plenty of people watching him do it based on the cheers he received last night from the hometown crowd.
In the other (non-local) main card action, former professional and collegiate wrestler Jake Hager looked athletic and capable as he easily submitted possible woodshop teacher J.W. Kiser in his MMA debut. To close out the night, Bellator’s light heavyweight champion also became the heavyweight champion when Ryan Bader knocked out the aging legend Fedor Emelianenko with one punch. Although some viewed it as America’s first victory over Russia since 2016, most MMA fans and pundits simply saw the victory as proof that the greatest heavyweight of all time needs to stoically ride off into the Russian sunset even more than ever before.
Josh Chesler used to play baseball for some pretty cool teams, but now he just writes about awesome stuff like tattoos, music, MMA and sneakers. He enjoys injuring himself by skateboarding, training for fights, and playing musical instruments in his off time.