BELLATOR 274: Nieman Gracie vs Logan Storley
By Eric Borukhov & Jonathan Fayzakov | Feb 21, 2022, 11:30AM EST
Jonathan Di Lorenzo defeats Orlando Mendoza via submission (d’arce choke)- Round 1, 1:07
Losing his debut at Bellator 264, it looked as though Mendoza was getting off to a better start, dropping Di Lorenzo with a right hand followed by a single leg takedown in the opening seconds of the fight. Unfortunately, his success did not last long, as Di Lorenzo was able to scramble out of the takedown and secure a tight d’arce choke, ending the bout in a little over a minute. Not a bad way to enter the promotion for the 30-year-old New York native Jonathan Di Lorenzo who is now 2-0 as a professional.
Isaiah Hokit defeats Theodore Macuka via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 3:59
In an odd way, this was a fight between two well respected MMA gyms; Hokit representing Jackson Wink MMA, and Macuka representing LAW MMA. Hokit came into this match looking well determined to avenge his 10-second Bellator debut loss to Corey Samuels at Bellator 261. Hokit, a wrestler since the age of 4 and Fresno State alumni, relied on what he knows best, and that is his wrestling. He was able to secure a double leg in the opening seconds of the fight and remained in Macuka’s closed guard for over 2-minutes while landing a flurry of unorthodox elbows and punches from the top. Hokit eventually transitioned to side control, and to a full mount shortly after. From the mount position, Hokit attempted an arm triangle choke which he quickly let go of. In desperation mode, Macuka attempted to spin out of the mounted position while surrendering his back and allowing Hokit to get his hooks in and secure a rear-naked-choke which ultimately ended the fight. Great win for Hokit, but what does this mean for Macuka who is now on a 3-fight skid?
Justin Montalvo defeats Corey Samuels via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 2:43
The fight began with Samuels, who was on a 2-fight winning streak looking sharp in the opening moments, pressuring the undefeated and highly regarded LAW MMA prospect with a series of combinations. After weathering the storm, Montalvo began to find success of his own with counter strikes which lead to powerful combinations. Just after the midway point of the round, Montalvo was able to land a barrage of punches, many landing to the body, folding Samuels. An impressive start to his young MMA career, Montalvo is now 5-0, with 4-wins coming by way of KO/TKO.
Jordan Newman defeats Cody Herbert via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
The scorecard for this fight pretty much tells the story. Newman, a 2-time wrestling national champion for the University of Wisconsin fought a near perfect fight and is now 4-0 in his professional MMA career. Newman relied heavily on his wrestling, going a perfect 5-5 on his takedown attempts, while showcasing his impressive ground-and-pound pedigree. To be quite honest, Herbert did not seem like he belonged in the cage against the much savvier and skilled Newman. That being said, it is only fair to give Herbert credit for staying in the fight and not giving up when he had plenty of opportunities to do so.
DeAnna Bennett defeats Justine Kish via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Perhaps not as lopsided as the scorecards make it seem, but a clear victory for the 37-year-old Bennett. The muay thai specialist Kish had her fair share of moments in the striking department, even leading the dance at one point in the first. However, the biggest difference in this fight was the wrestling of Bennett. Bennett was able to secure a takedown and maintain a dominant position in each round which ultimately won her the fight. Improving to 12-7, Bennett now adds Kish to her list of notable wins which already include the likes of Miranda Maverick, Jennifer Maia, and Julianna Pena!
Bobby King defeats Aviv Gozali via TKO (doctor stoppage) - Round 1
Though a prelim fight, the roar from the crowd as these two warriors entered the cage was electric. Gozali, 21, came into this contest with a perfect record of 6-0 with all 6 wins coming by way of submission. Speaking to the Israeli prior to the fight, he was confident that he would showcase his much-improved striking. Unfortunately for Gozali, the fight did not pan out as he expected; he was clearly dominated on the feet by the more experienced and stronger Bobby King. Per his Instagram post, Gozali sustained a torn ACL and a broken ankle in the early moments of the first round. Nevertheless, King’s striking was more precise and polished, dazing Gozali several times during the first round before the fight was stopped due the doctor’s decision, and rightfully so. Before the medic and referee made their final decision to call off the bout, the medic signaled over to Gozali's father and asked him to enter the ring. There appeared to be an altercation between Haim Gozali (a former Bellator fighter) and the commissioner as he tried to stop Haim from entering after missing the medic's request. The full video can be found on our Instagram channel: @insidetheclinchmma. A big congratulations to the 38-year-old King who is now 2-1 in Bellator and is a tough outing for any lightweight on the roster.
Jaylon Bates defeats Chris Disonell via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 3, 3:39
Bellator bred, 25-year-old Jaylon Bates advanced his record to 5-0 (14-0 including his amateur fights) as his training partner, the Bellator Featherweight Champion and #1 ranked Bellator pound-for-pound fighter A.J. Mckee, supported him from his corner. Not the best performance from Bates that we have seen so far, but that should be largely attributed to the toughness and durability of Chris Disonell who put up a strong fight, landing several impressive takedowns. Fighting some adversity, Bates stayed composed through the entirety of fight, nearly ending the fight towards the end of the 2nd round. Bates was able to secure a takedown in the opening minute of the 3rd round, eventually scrambling and transitioning to a rear naked choke that ended the fight. Undoubtedly a great win for the highly regarded prospect Jaylon Bates.
Nick Browne defeats Mandel Nallo via TKO (right hand followed by strikes) - Round 2, 2:20
Both fighters entered this fight with momentum on their side. Nallo, a pupil of the legendary coach Faras Zihabi came into the contest with a record of 8-1, only losing once in his professional career due to a leg injury. Brown was riding a 5-fight win streak and was as confident as we have ever seen him. Nallo was the clear victor of round 1, easily stuffing Browne’s takedowns, landing more efficiently, and at one point even knocking Browne down to the canvas. It was pretty much a similar story in the opening minutes of the 2nd round until it wasn’t. At the midway point of the round, Browne landed a devastating right hand which knocked Nallo down and followed it up with a flurry of punches to secure the TKO victory. MMA is such a crazy sport; everything can change with a blink of an eye. Still very high on Nallo and was impressed by most of his performance. Big congrats to Nick ‘Nyquil’ Browne for overcoming adversity and finding a way to win. What a great ending to an exciting prelim card.
Davion Franklin defeats Said Sowma via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
No question, this was one of the more exciting fights on the card. Two large and extremely powerful heavyweights stood toe-to-toe and exchanged bombs through the entirety of the fight. To be quite honest, the fight could have gone either way with Franklin landing the more powerful strikes, while Sowma was clearly ahead in terms of volume thrown. The judges scored the contest for Franklin, who won the bout via split decision and improved his record to an impressive 5-0. Coming off this win, I would like to see Franklin become a bit more calculated with his striking as many of his punches missed the target and often left him open and exposed. Nonetheless, the Jackson Wink product gets the job done, and it would come with no surprise to see him fight Bellator’s elite heavyweights in the near future. As for Sowma, not a bad performance whatsoever. He did a fantastic job in avoiding getting hit with those heavy bombs that are capable of knocking out any man. Hope to see him get back to the drawing board and come back better than ever.
Brennan Ward defeats Brandon Bell via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 0:32
After nearly a 5-year hiatus, Brennan Ward, the former middleweight title contender and Bellator season 9 winner made his return to the cage, and in impressive fashion. A dominant first round from Ward had Bell bloody and defeated walking to his corner. Ward’s dominance carried over to the second round which only lasted 32-seconds as Ward was able to overwhelm a tired Brandon Bell and land some devastating strikes to the head and midsection, dropping Bell, and giving Ward the opportunity to end the fight with a series of strikes to his grounded opponent. Welcome to Bellator Mr. Brandon Bell. With this loss, the 37-year-old Bell is on a 4-fight skid, and it’s certainly tough to watch. On the contrary, Ward, in his 15-fights with the promotion has not had a fight go to the judges’ decision. After all that he’s been through in recent years, it’s nice to see Ward back in the cage doing what he does best, and that’s finish fights.
Adam Piccolotti defeats Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Both men entered this contest with losses in their last respective outings. As many of the fights on this Bellator card, the difference in this fight was the wrestling of Adam Piccolotti that allowed him to land a couple of impressive takedowns in the first and second rounds and maintain a dominant position. A desperate Karakhanyan came out strong in the 3rd and was able to sink in several submission attempts, but unfortunately to no avail. This was a much-needed win for Piccolotti who came into the contest with losses in four of his last seven fights. Not the most exciting fight, but Piccolotti did just enough to come out victorious.
Andrey Koreshkov defeats Chance Rencountre by TKO (spinning back kick and punches) - Round 1, 0:38
Koreshkov, the former Bellator Welterweight Champion entered this bout tied for the most wins and fights in Bellator welterweight history. It only took him 38-seconds to dismantle Rencountre with a Giga Chikadze’ esk spinning back kick to the midsection which had Rencountre wimping in pain as he fell down to the canvas. It is now known that Rencountre suffered five broken ribs and sustained a punctured lung. We wish him a speedy and full recovery. As for Koreshkov, he has now won 3-straight since his split decision loss to Lorenz Larkin in 2019. The Russian is still only 31-years-old and by the looks of his performance on Saturday night, he still has a lot to offer in the welterweight division. His eyes are on the prize as he looks to regain his championship.
Logan Storley defeats Nieman Gracie via unanimous decision (48-47, 50-45, 49-46)
To wrap up an exciting Bellator card, Logan Storley made a huge statement by defeating the well accomplished and highly regarded Nieman Gracie. This bout marked the first 5-round non-title main event in Bellator history, and it certainly delivered. As we often see in grappler-vs-grappler matchups, this fight took place predominantly on the feet. Both fighters relied heavily on their jab, but Storley’s arsenal was undoubtedly more effective and diverse. As the fight progressed, Gracie became more flat-footed and vulnerable, allowing Storley to attack with big hooks and overhand punches. This, however, is not to say that Gracie did not have any success of his own. In the 4th round, Gracie landed an uppercut which wobbled Storley. Given the opportunity, Gracie made an attempt to finish the fight, however got countered instead, nearly losing the fight in the 4th. After 5-rounds, Storley out-struck Gracie, landing 198 total strikes while Gracie landed only 108. With this win over a highly respected opponent, Storley is determined as ever to either avenge his loss against the current welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov (26-0) or challenge Bellator star Michael “Venom” Page.