NEW YORK — Before Rory MacDonald puts put his championship on the line against Neiman Gracie in the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, there is an entire evening of Bellator 222 fights at Madison Square Garden.
From a bantamweight title bout rematch between champ Darrion Caldwell and Rizin belt-holder Kyoji Horiguchi, to a battle of MMA legends, here’s how the fights are going down:
Undefeated Borics spoils Pico’s return to the Garden
Adam Borics knocks out Aaron Pico with a flying knee in the second round of the Bellator 222 prelims.
Highly touted featherweight prospect Aaron Pico suffered heartbreak (again) in the Garden, this time at the hands of undefeated prospect Adam Borics.
Pico (4-3) looked good early in the bout, which was his first since joining renowned MMA coach Greg Jackson. He took down Borics (13-0) almost at will in the opening two rounds, although he did have trouble keeping him there. Borics, 25, turned the tide in an instant late in the second, however, as he knocked Pico out with a flying knee.
The finish came at the 3:55 mark of the round. Pico, 22, never went unconscious but was badly dazed and did not protest the stoppage.
The result was reminiscent of Pico’s nightmarish MMA debut in June 2017, when he suffered a 24-second submission defeat to Zach Freeman. That bout also took place in the Garden.
Borics, of Hungary, is now 4-0 in the Bellator cage, with four finishes. This was his first appearance of 2019.
Middleweight: Phil Hawes (5-2) def. Michael Wilcox (6-4) by first-round TKO (doctor stoppage, 5:00)
Lightweight: Marcus Surin (6-1) def. Nekruz Mirkhojaev (4-3) by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 29-27)
Welterweight: Robson Gracie Jr. (2-0) def. Oscar Vera (0-1) by first-round submission (armbar, 3:15)
Bantamweight: Mike Kimbel (3-1) def. Sebastian Ruiz (2-3) by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27) 3 5:00
Men’s 180-pound catchweight: Haim Gozali (11-6) def. Gustavo Wurlitzer (22-23, 1 NC) by first-round submission (triangle choke, 4:02)
Women’s 112-pound catchweight: Lindsay VanZandt (6-1) def. Rena Kubota (8-3) by first-round technical submission (rear-naked choke, 4:04)
Women’s flyweight: Valerie Loureda (2-0) def. Larkyn Dasch (0-2) by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Women’s flyweight: Taylor Turner (4-5) def. Heather Hardy (2-2) by first-round TKO) (3:53)
Still to come …
Featherweight: John Beneduce (2-2) vs. Kenny Rivera (2-1)
Men’s 165-pound catchweight: Kastriot Xhema (2-3) vs. Whitney Jean Francois (2-6-1)
Men’s flyweight: Brandon Medina (0-0) vs. Brandon Polcare (1-2)
Bantamweight championship: Darrion Caldwell (13-2) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (27-2)
Featherweight: Eduardo Dantas (21-6) vs. Juan Archuleta (22-1)
Bantamweight: Ricky Bandejas (11-2) vs. Patrick Mix (10-0)
Men’s 175-pound catchweight: Dillon Danis (1-0) vs. Max Humphrey (3-2)
Light heavyweight: Lyoto Machida (25-8) vs. Chael Sonnen (31-16-1)
Welterweight championship: Rory MacDonald (20-5-1) vs. Neiman Gracie (9-0)