Bellator 236 Live Coverage

Wrapping up their two-night events in Honolulu, Hawaii, Bellator returned with Bellator 236 on Saturday night. Headlining the card, Bellator Flyweight Champion Ilima-Lei MacFarlane attempted to defend her belt against Kate Jackson. Also in the co-main event was a quarter-final fight in the promotion’s featherweight grand prix. The fight was between A.J. McKee and Derek Campos.

Quick Results:

  1. Keoni Diggs def. Scotty Hao via Rear Naked Choke (RD 2, 2:23)
  2. Kai Kamaka III def. Spencer Higa via Unanimous Decision
  3. Dustin Barca def. Brandon Pieper via Rear Naked Choke (RD 1: 0:58)
  4. Ben Wilhlem def. Keali’i Kanekoa via Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 2:24)
  5. Swayne Makana Lunasco def. Kaylan TKO, Unanswered Strikes (RD 3, 3:29)
  6. Zach Zane def. Nainoa Dung via Unanimous Decision
  7. Raufeon Stots def. Cheyden Leialoha via Unanimous Decision
  8. Juliana Velasquez def. Bruna Ellen via Unanimous Decision
  9. Jason Jackson def. Kiichi Kunimoto via Unanimous Decision
  10. A.J. McKee def. Derek Campos via Armbar (RD 3, 1:08)
  11. Ilima-Lei MacFarlane def. Kate Jackson via Unanimous Decision
  12. Nate Yoshimura def. Chas Dunhour via Knockout, Elbow (RD 2, 2:46)

Bout 1: Keoni Diggs (7-0) vs. Scotty Hao (4-2) (Lightweight)

The first fight of the evening saw undefeated Keoni Diggs face Scotty Hao. Diggs got a takedown in the first minute of the fight. He landed some punches from the top position. Hao started to bleed from his nose in the final minute of the round. Diggs stayed in the dominant position until the round ended.

Diggs came forward with punches at the start, then got a takedown from a bodylock. Halfway through the round, Diggs got on the back of Hao and put in a rear naked choke to get the win. Moving to 8-0 as a pro, Keoni Diggs put on a ground game clinic for one-and-a-half rounds.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Diggs 10
Hao 9

Bout 2: Kai Kamaka III (5-2) vs. Spencer Higa (7-10) (Featherweight)

In the next fight, Kai Kamaka III and Spencer Higa competed. After two minutes of a fast-paced striking battle between the two, Kamaka landed a double leg takedown. Kamaka kept ground and pound going for a few minutes before they got up against the cage in the closing seconds of the fight.

Kamaka got a very well timed double leg takedown early in the second round. He stayed in half guard on the ground while throwing punches. Just like the round before, Kamaka was dominant throughout.

Kamaka landed a good head kick in the first minute of the final round. Becoming more aware of Kamaka’s playbook, Higa stopped a takedown attempt and kept it in stand-up. Kamaka got a takedown in the second minute of the round. Kamaka put in a choke with a minute left in the round, but let it go. They stood up with under a minute left in the round. Higo landed knees to the body in the clinch. Kamaka went into a clinch, trying for another takedown, finishing it just as the round ended. Going to the decision, all three judges were in agreement that Kai Kamaka III was the winner (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Kamaka III 10 10 10 30
Higa 9 9 9 27

Bout 3: Dustin Barca (3-0) vs. Brandon Pieper (11-13) (Lightweight)

Early in his pro-MMA career, undefeated Dustin Barca fought the much more experienced Brandon Pieper next. Early into the fight, the fighters got into a body lock on the cage. Barca took down Pieper with a rear naked choke. Pieper tried to fight out of it, but tapped out eventually. With a very quick win, Dustin Barca moved to 4-0 as an MMA pro.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 4: Ben Wilhelm (3-0) vs. Keali’i Kanekoa (2-2) (Welterweight)

In another fight that showcased an undefeated fighter, Ben Wilhelm faced Keali’i Kanekoa. They were swinging hard right out of the gates. Kanekoa got a takedown quite quickly. They stood up only moments later, fighting in a clinch. Wilhelm caught a leg and tried for a takedown, but couldn’t get uit. They really enjoyed fighting in the clinch, throwing lots of knees from the position. Rolling onto the ground, Wilhelm put in a rear naked choke. It got under the chin, with Kanekoa eventually tapping out. With a very flashy takedown and choke, Ben Wilhelm continued his undefeated career after a fast and chaotic fight.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 5: Swayne Makana Lunasco (0-0) vs. Kaylan Gorospe (0-0) (Bantamweight)

In a double debut, Swayne Makana Lunasco and Kaylan Gorospe fought next. This was a rematch, as these two have faced off as amateurs in the past. Lunasco got a takedown after a minute or so of inactive striking. Lunasco got on Gorospe’s back, trying to join the club of rear naked choke winners on this card. They got back up, where Gorospe landed a couple of good punches. Lunasco got a double leg takedown that didn’t have much setup. Lunasco tried for a guillotine choke, but Gorospe’s head popped out of it. He tried for an arm triangle with a minute left in the fight. After enduring the choke for quite some time, Lunasco eventually lost the choke. He landed a couple of punches before the round clock expired.

Lunasco tried for another takedown early in the first round but did not get it. Gorospe landed a knee and some strikes Lunasco as he failed to secure his takedown. Lunasco got his first takedown of the round in the second minute. They got back up shortly after. While Lunasco was rolling around he got caught in some punches. Lunasco got a double leg takedown. Lunasco was dominant on the ground, trying for an arm triangle again. He let go of the hold, then landed a few more strikes from above. Lunasco started to let some elbows fly. Gorospe started to bleed from the nose. After Lunasco landed dozens of unanswered strikes, the round finally ran out of time.

Lunasco got a takedown to start off the final round. He stayed in the top position on the ground for a few minutes. After Lunasco continued with strikes for quite some time, the referee finally stepped in. With nothing short of a dominant performance, Swayne Makana Lunasco started his pro-MMA career with a win.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Lunasco 10 10
Gorospe 8 8

Bout 6: Nainoa Dung (3-0) vs. Zach Zane (13-9) (Lightweight)

Kicking off the main card, the experienced Zach Zane fought the up-and-coming Nainoa Dung. Zane got a single leg takedown in the first 30 seconds of the fight. He did minimal ground and pound from top position. They got up for a moment where Dung threw a head kick, but Zane was able to control the situation and bring it back to the ground. Zane continued to hold top position until the round ended.

In a body lock at the start of the second round, Zane got another takedown. Dung got up but was tossed right back down. Zane got on the back of Dung, where he tried for a rear naked choke. Both of them went into a combination of moveson  the ground which was fast and ended with Zane back in top position. Zane tried for a guillotine choke as the second round closed out. In this round, Zane showcased his talent on the ground.

The two fighters traded punches to open the final round. Dung landed some good shots, keeping it in stand-up. He put in a guillotine choke while in stand-up, which was brought to the ground. Zane escaped the choke, but Dung got on his back and tried for a rear naked choke. Zane got Dung off of his back, getting into top position. They went back to stand-up with a minute and a half left in the round. Zane tried for a takedown but didn’t fully commit to it. Zane at a body kick, but used it to land a takedown. They switched positions many times, with Zane being in the controlling position most of the time. Zane held off Dung until the round ended. The fight went to the scorecards after the three rounds, with Zach Zane getting a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28). After the fight, Zane praised Dung.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Dung 9 9 10 28
Zane 10 10 9 29

Bout 7: Raufeon Stots (12-1) vs. Cheyden Leialoha (7-1) (Bantamweight)

The seventh fight saw two experienced bantamweights make their Bellator debut against each other. Both only losing once prior to this meeting, Raufeon Stots and Cheyden Leialoha battled. Stots put Leialoha up against the cage in a body lock early on. Stots got a takedown halfway through the round, but Leialoha got up shortly after, still in the body lock. They went back to striking with two minutes left in the round. Stots reversed a takedown, getting his own.

Leialoha got a takedown in the second round, but not after lots of resistance from Stots. Stots reversed the position on the ground, taking top position and staying in control for most of the round. He didn’t do anything substantial, but he did keep active enough for the referee to keep them on the ground for the whole round.

Stots put Leialoha up against the cage early on in the final round. They went back to stand-up, although Stots landed a takedown shortly after. Leialoha tried for an armbar on the ground, but Stots slipped out of it eventually. Stots stayed on top of Leialoha. They got up and traded punches as the fight clock finished. After three rounds, it was Raufeon Stots who got the unanimous decision win (29-28, 30-27 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Stots 10 10 10 30
Leialoha 9 9 9 27

Bout 8: Juliana Velasquez (9-0) vs. Bruna Ellen (5-2) (Flyweights)

In the next matchup, undefeated fighter and potential title contender Juliana Velasquez faced Bruna Ellen. It was an all-Brazilian match. Velasquez had a clear height and reach advantage. After nearly two minutes of inactive standup, Velasquez dropped Ellen with a left straight punch. She took top position on the ground, where Ellen held a body lock to slow the momentum of Velasquez. They got back up and returned to stand-up. Ellen often came in with combinations but they hardly connected.

Ellen continued to be on the perimeter of the cage throughout the second round. Velasquez got some good jabs in throughout the round, often counter-punching. Velasquez turned up the head in the closing seconds of the round, coming forward with many strikes including a flying knee.

Velasquez had her best round in the third, connecting with tons of combinations. She landed tons of punches when in a clinch up against the cage. When finally going to the scorecards, Juliana Velasquez upped her wins to double digits (30-27, 30-27 & 30-26).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Velasquez 10 10 10 30
Ellen 9 9 8 26

Bout 9: Jason Jackson (10-4) vs. Kiichi Kunimoto (20-8-2) (Welterweight)

In the next fight, former RIZIN fighter Kiichi Kunimoto faced Jason Jackson, who took this fight on short notice. Jackson was quick from the start, throwing a head kick in the opening seconds. Jackson landed a right hook which cleaned Kunimoto’s clock, putting him on his back. Jackson made the referee stand Kunimoto back up, and they returned to striking. Kunimoto landed a takedown and got on Jackson’s back. Jackson turned the situation around, taking top position on the ground. From the bottom, Kunimoto tried for a kimura. Jackson rolled out of it. They got back up for the final minute of the round. Kunimoto put on a body lock, but was slammed in the end by Jackson.

The second round was mostly striking, with Jackson landing good shots. Kunimoto failed many times to get the fight to the ground. Jackson almost got roped into a takedown in the final minute, but avoided it and made the referee stand Kunimoto up.

Kunimoto shot for a takedown early in the final round, which Jackson reversed into a takedown of his own. He got up moments later. Jackson had some good striking throughout the third round., Jackson got in top position on the ground in the final minute of the round. Jackson tossed Kunimoto as the fight ran out of time. At the end of the fight, all three judges thought Jason Jackson pulled off the victory (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Jackson 10 10 10 30
Kunimoto 9 9 9 27

Bout 10: A.J. McKee (15-0) vs. Derek Campos (20-9) (Featherweight World GP Quarter-Final)

In the co-main event of the evening, A.J. McKee and Derek Campos fought in the quarter-finals of the Featherweight GP. Right off the bat, McKee tried for a flying knee which did not connect. He slipped when throwing a punch, which allowed Campos to take the fight to the ground. They got back up, where McKee shot for a takedown. He got on Campos’ back and tried for a rear naked choke. He didn’t get it, but stayed on the back of Campos. He stayed there until the round ended.

Campos got dropped early in the second round, but it was hard to tell whether it was from a punch or not. McKee tried for a choke on the ground but couldn’t get it. When in stand-up, McKee got on his back on the ground. Campos took top position on the ground. Campos stayed in top position for quite some time, landing punches every once in a while.

McKee got a good takedown in the first minute of the third round. Campos was able to reverse the position, but from the bottom McKee put in an armbar while Campos transitioned. It made Campos tap out quite quickly. Continuing his undefeated record, A.J. McKee reached the halfway point of the Featherweight World Grand Prix, with the final destination possibly being a one million dollar prize.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total
McKee 10 9
Campos 9 10

Bout 11: Ilima-Lei MacFarlane (10-0) vs. Kate Jackson (11-3-1) (Bellator Flyweight World Championship)

Finally, in the main event of the evening, Hawaii’s own Ilima-Lei MacFarlane attempted to defend her Bellator Flyweight Championship against England’s Kate Jackson. MacFarlane had quite the grand entrance, with 11 other people onstage with her doing a performance before her walk to the cage. As expected, the crowd was quite behind MacFarlane. Jackson tried to trip MacFarlane early on in a clinch, but it was avoided. MacFarlane landed a trip takedown later on. From the bottom, Jackson landed some good upkicks and punches. They stood up in a clinch with two minutes left in the round. MacFarlane landed knees to the head while in the clinch, which cut Jackson open. They stayed in the standing clinch until the last few seconds of the first round.

MacFarlane started the second round with a good two-punch combo. They went into another standing clinch, where Jackson landed some punches that made MacFarlane start to bleed as well. MacFarlane secured a takedown with under two minutes left in the round. MacFarlane landed elbows from top position. In the final seconds of the round, MacFarlane put in a hold, but didn’t have enough time to finish Jackson with it.

The third round included the most kickboxing from both fighters. MacFarlane landed some great punches coming forward in the fourth minute. MacFarlane got another takedown, this time in the final minute of the third round.

MacFarlane opened the fourth round by landing some punches in clinch and then landing a takedown. After being in top position for a while, MacFarlane got up and took the back of Jackson. MacFarlane started to try for an armbar, but Jackson kept a hold of her arm. Jackson avoided the hold until the round expired.

The first two minutes of the final round was a close striking battle between two fighters who were clearly fatigued. MacFarlane landed a takedown in the closing seconds of the fight. She continued with strikes, nearly getting a stoppage win, with the bell stopping her. After fighting for 25 minutes, the fight went to the scorecards. When consulting the judges, Ilima-Lei MacFarlane pitched a shutout to defend her Flyweight Championship yet again (50-45, 50-44 & 50-44).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total
MacFarlane 10 10 10 10 10 50
Jackson 9 9 9 9 9 45

Bout 12: Nate Yoshimura (0-0) vs. Chas Dunhour (0-1) (Flyweight)


Before the show completely wrapped up, they had one post-lim to present. In that fight, Nate Yoshimura debuted against Chas Dunhour, who had yet to win as a pro. Dunhour got dropped by a strike in the third minute of the fight. They were trading blows throughout the first round. Yoshimura got a takedown with a minute to go, but Dunhour got up quite quickly. Dunhour stopped a takedown in the final seconds of the round.

Yoshimura came forward with some hard punches early in the second round. Yoshimura got hurt halfway through the round. He was hit with a counter right which started everything. A left hook made Yoshimura retreat to the cage. With Yoshimura up against the cage, Dunhour landed an elbow which took Yoshimura out cold. After a loss when debuting in professional MMA, Chas Dunhour bounced back in explosive fashion, getting a knockout victory.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Yoshimura 10
Dunhour 9

Bellator wraps up it’s 2019 season next week when it heads to Japan for a co-promoted card with RIZIN Fighting Federation. Headlining the card will be Fedor Emelianenko and Rampage Jackson.

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