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By Matt ten-Hoeve on 3/22/2024 8:27 PM

Bellator Champions Series: Belfast Takeaways and Thoughts

It was nice to see Bellator back for the Bellator Champions Series: Belfast show. Even though it is now under the PFL umbrella and had some PFL-style updates, it had the feel of a Bellator show, especially from recent years. Let’s take a look at how the fights shook out…

Main Card

Vacant Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship

Corey Anderson def. Karl Moore by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to win the title

Bellator Featherweight Championship

Patricio Pitbull def. Jeremy Kennedy by TKO via strikes (4:07, R3) to retain the title

Fabian Edwards def. Aaron Jeffery by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Leandro Higo def. James Gallagher by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Manoel Sousa def. Tim Wilde by KO via punch (4:48, R1)

Preliminary Card

Ciaran Clarke def. Darius Mafi by submission via arm triangle choke (0:41, R3)

Nathan Kelly def. Vikas Singh Ruhil by KO via elbow strike (0:40, R1)

Abraham Bably def. Isaiah Pinson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Luke Trainer def. Grant Neal by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Alfie Davis def. Oscar Ownsworth by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Nate Kelly def. Jordan Elliott by submission via arm bar (1:48, R1)

The Prelims

It was great to see Bellator have a “normal” amount of Prelims on the show again. For a while, they were scheduling a ton of Prelim fights - sometimes over 15. While having more fights on a show sounds like a good thing going in, it definitely tired me out during some shows. Some fun stuff happened today:

Nate Kelly had another impressive amateur showing. His arm bar in the first round was nasty. At 18 years old, it’ll be interesting to see when he decides to go pro. He might be ready now - especially in Bellator.

Nathan Kelly had a great KO in the first round that has me excited to see him and his striking again.

Ciaran Clarke and Darius Mafi had a nice back and forth fight with Clarke getting the submission in the third round. Both men did a great job of showing their toughness and I’m looking forward to seeing them both when they fight again.

Manoel Sousa

Sousa looked great here and got the highlight of the night. Seriously - go watch his KO! It was nasty, but I couldn’t stop watching the replay. In Bellator, this type of power may do him quite well going forward.

Fabian Edwards

Aaron Jeffrey didn’t make it easy, but Fabian Edwards was able to grind out the win. This was being billed as a contender’s fight, so expect Edwards to be considered as the next contender in the division. He came up short his last time when he went for the title, but a second chance may be what he needs. I will say, though, this win may not get a ton of people excited to see a rematch for the title. I think everyone, including Edwards himself, was looking for a more impressive outing.

Patricio Pitbull

Speaking of impressive outings - Patricio Pitbull had the type of finish he’s been wanting to showcase for a while now. He didn’t get the chance to fight last month and it looks like he took out his anger today with a beautiful TKO of Jeremy Kennedy in the third round. Kennedy did a nice job of hanging with Pitbull until the TKO, which is not easy to do. However, Patricio’s power and experience came through and he showed why he remains one of the best fighters in Bellator after all these years.

Corey Anderson

Well, Anderson finally has the Light Heavyweight Championship after all this time. He couldn’t get through the Nemkov barrier, but was able to grind out the win today against Karl Moore. Moore had a couple of nice moments in this fight - a scary arm bar and a few nice punches. However, Anderson used his wrestling to just grind and grind until the final horn. A win is a win…and this win made him a champion. Can’t hate on that. He did what he had to do.

The Show on Max

I was really impressed with Max today. Even though I’ve had the app since it started and enjoy watching shows and movies on it, I’ve never used it to watch live sports - until today. The show was really easy to find on the app and I was able to start it from the beginning after it had already begun (I wasn’t home in time to watch it live from the start). I was able to easily skip through video packages to catch up to things live, which I appreciated. The experience made me happy and I'm looking forward to the next show, for sure.

I went 2-3 on my Main Card picks. Yuck! Admittedly, I knew I was taking a big chance on the three I got wrong, but I tried to follow my gut. Boy, was I wrong!

Overall, this was a fun return for Bellator. It was great to see Pitbull back. Sousa and the Kellys really impressed me. While I know a lot of the PFL’s attention will go to the PFL brand, and rightfully so, I definitely won’t mind these Bellator shows every few months. 

Did you watch the show? If so, what did you think? Let me know at I’ll be back in a few days to talk about what happens on the UFC Fight Night: Ribas vs. Namajunas card. See you then!