Velasquez earned scores of 48-47 twice and 49-46 for largely shutting down Macfarlane’s takedown game and countering the champ’s charges with heavier, more accurate punches. The 34-year-old Brazilian is the second 125-pound champion in the ViacomCBS-owned promotion’s history.
“This is like a gold medal I didn’t win in judo,” Velasquez said afterward via translator.
Velasquez size advantage was noticeable from the outset of the action at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. But the majority of damage done to Macfarlane came from a flying knee that connected at the end of the third round, and a clash off a takedown left a razor-thin cut across the camp’s brow. The injuries bled generously, giving Macfarlane another opponent as she struggled to hit and keep down her foe.
Macfarlane’s offense was largely limited to short bursts of striking offense that the southpaw Velasquez picked off with straight lefts, uppercuts and check right hooks. When she was able to get Velasquez on the mat in the fourth, she was unable to do much other than fire short punches. Velasquez was simply too big and too strong to manipulate, and a fifth-round takedown backfired when she wound up on bottom.
“You could say I coulda, woulda, shoulda, but at the end of the day, she outperformed me,” Macfarlane, who suffered the first loss of her professional career, said afterward. “Her gameplan was spot on. She’s the champion. She deserves it.”
Velasquez remains undefeated after 10 fights.
Magomedov smothers Mattos
The final tally was 30-26 and 30-27 twice for Magomedov, who picked up his 16th pro win with a takedown and grappling clinic on Mattos. A brief wrap of the neck was the Brazilian’s only ray of light, and it came in the opening seconds of the bout. After that, he was completely on Magomedov’s time, fighting off takedowns and choke attempts as single-legs begat back-takes with strikes in between.
Magomedov, the only man to beat current UFC bantamweight champ Petr Yan (who later avenged the loss), declined to call out future opponents and simply said there’s a new “king” in the Bellator jungle.
Vassell’s size too much for Markes
Markes, who’s bulked up later in his career, tried to get the fight down but on two occasions ended up on the bottom against the one-time title challenger. The second, Vassell made the most of things and advanced to mount, where he unleashed a flurry of strikes that left Markes nowhere to go. At the 3:37 mark of the second frame, the referee had seen enough and waved off the bout for Vassell, who’s now won two straight after a disastrous three-fight skid.
Cotton chokes “Fort” Sumter
A step-knee was Romero Cotton’s invitation to take down Justin “The Fort” Sumter after a few moments of feeling things out on the feet. From there, he manhandled Sumter until an escape attempt allowed him to take the back and sink in the rear-naked choke at 3:36 of round one.
Full Bellator 254 results:
Juliana Velasquez def. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47)
Magomed Magomedov def. Matheus Mattos via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Linton Vassell def. Ronny Markes via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:37
Romero Cotton def. Justin Sumter via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:36