Bellator 214 is in the books and the first event of the year for the Viacom owned promotion definitely had some memorable moments.
Whether you were tuning in to watch the conclusion of the World Heavyweight Grand Prix or if you were tuning in to watch one of the sport’s most promising prospects in Aaron Pico, Bellator 214 delivered.
That being said, who were the biggest winners from the first Bellator event of 2019? Let’s take a look.
Adel Al Tamimi
You would be hard pressed to find a better feel-good story in MMA than Adel Al Tamimi’s.
Adel’s story has been well documented (rightfully so). The Iraqi soldier nearly lost his life while serving his country. Now Adel makes his home stateside in Los Angeles and has been working with some of the best MMA guys in the game.
His hard work is paying off as made evident by his impressive performance last night at Bellator 214. As for what is next for “Kyokushin”, some time off, then its right back to training for this soldier.
Juan Archuleta improved his record to 22-1 with his victory over Ricky Bandejas last night at Bellator 214.
Archuleta vs. Bandejas was the fight many fans had circled on their calendars for months in anticipation for this event. While it wasn’t the back and forth slobber knocker some had predicted, the fight was entertaining.
More importantly, perhaps, the fight may have netted us the next bantamweight contender in Archuleta.
No one can deny that Ryan Bader had one hell of a night.
In the same evening Bader won the World Heavyweight Grand Prix, captured the Bellator heavyweight title, became the promotion’s first ever “double champ”, and likely retired one of the greatest fighters to have ever competed in any form of combat sports. Not a bad night of work Mr. Bader.
When speaking to John McCarthy during his post-fight interview, Bader stated that he would like to defend both the 205-pound title and his newly acquired heavyweight strap. However, the final decision will likely come after he sits down with Bellator President Scott Coker.
While Ryan Bader is the unquestioned biggest winner on the night, The MMA Lab’s Henry Corrales is a close second.
It was an all-out brawl while it last, but the 22-year-old Aaron Pico learned a valuable lesson. That is, your power can only take you so far, and Corrales can crack.
This was an absolutely massive victory for Corrales who improves his record to 17-3 with this win. “OK” as he is known has won five straight fights since moving to Phoenix and joining The MMA Lab.
Corrales likely earned himself a title shot against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for his stunning upset of Pico. If not “Pitbull” then there is a gentleman by the name of A.J. McKee that is a training partner of Pico’s.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/27/19.