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Bellator 189 Results: Julia Budd retains featherweight title with controversial decision over Arlene Blencowe


In a fight commentator Mauro Ranallo called a “somnambulant affair,” Julia Budd retained her Bellator featherweight title, winning a controversial split decision in her rematch with Arlene Blencowe Bellator 189 in Thackerville, Okla.

In their first fight, 14 months ago, Budd used her wrestling acumen to control the fight and eke out a majority decision, but almost none of that was on display Friday night. Instead, Budd spent most of the fight being backed up by the forward pressure of Blencowe, generating her best offense with knees when she was able to force the clinch, which wasn’t often. The bout was mostly characterized by a lack of action and by the fifth round the boo birds were out in full force.

When it came time to render the decision, it seemed that most, including commentator Jimmy Smith, who scored the bout 49-46 Blencowe, expected to hear “and new,” but to the surprise of everyone, Budd took home a split decision with judges Todd Anderson and David Sutherland awarding her 49-46 scorecards, and Michael Bell scoring the bout 48-47 for Blencowe.

In the co-main event, multiple-time BJJ world champion Rafael Lovato Jr. took on two-time NCAA All-American Chris Honeycutt in a tepid affair that Lovato Jr. won by unanimous decision. Honeycutt was never able get anything going as Lovato Jr. landed the more effective strikes on the feet and stifled Honeycutt’s takedowns with submission threats. The win moves Lovato Jr. to 3-0 in the Bellator cage (7-0 in his career) and potentially sets up the jiu-jitsu ace for a middleweight title shot next year.

Elsewhere on the card, Chidi Njokuani made a successful middleweight debut, cruising to a unanimous decision win over Hisaki Kato. Kato was unable to get inside the range that Njokuani set with his striking and spent the majority of the evening absorbing kicks and punches at distance while being unable to initiate much offense of his own.

In the main card opener, despite coming in on short notice, David Rickels was able to take a clear decision over Adam Piccolotti, winning every round on every scorecard. Piccolotti had moments of success in the bout but he was never able to get into a rhythm as Rickels’ pressure kept him backing up for most of the evening. The bout also moved Rickels into sole possession of the record for most Bellator fights of all time at 19, one more than current Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire.

On the undercard, former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao dropped his second fight in a row since moving up to featherweight, losing a unanimous decision to Sam Sicilia. Galvao surged in the third round with some takedowns and ground work but it was too little too late as Sicilia was able to dictate the pace of the first two rounds.

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