Bellator NYC/180: Biggest Winners

With Bellator NYC/180 behind us, there were many noteworthy performances which saw fighters’ stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers and what’s next for them.

Zach Freeman

Overview: A journeyman lightweight, Freeman entered his first-ever Bellator fight simply as an opponent for highly-anticipated prospect Aaron Pico’s MMA debut. Freeman had short stints in mid-level promotions like RFA and Titan FC but had never won a big bout. Very few people gave Freeman a chance against Pico. The hype level for the near Olympian and Golden Gloves champion was at unprecedented levels. Some folks believed it wouldn’t be long before he was the best fighter in the promotion. However, Freeman entered the fight with nothing to lose. He went right after Pico and was able to land a strike that briefly stunned the prospect. From there, he quickly latched in a choke forcing Pico to tap before he could even get going in the fight. It was a stunning win and one that will be remembered in MMA folklore forever. 

Outlook: Freeman has a lot of options from here. Now known as the “The Prospect Killer,” there are a lot of interesting bouts for Freeman. I’d like to see him matched up again with a rising prospect to see if he can strike lightning in a bottle again. I think that’s a good way to keep the buzz going for Freeman and at the same time see where his real level is.  

Douglas Lima

Overview: In what was the best matchup on paper at Bellator NYC, Lima defended his welterweight championship against former UFC Top 10 welterweight Lorenz Larkin. The matchup was expected to be an action heavy striking exchange, however, both fighters were fairly cautious as they had to worry about the power of their opponent. In a technical striking match, Lima controlled the cage and landed the much bigger power shots to earn a decision victory. It was a key victory for Lima over a top welterweight. It’s a victory that really legitimizes his reign in this weight class. 

Outlook: A matchup with Rory MacDonald is on the horizon. MacDonald has been an elite welterweight for the last few years. Larkin was a good win for Lima, but a victory over MacDonald would put him on the shortlist of best welterweights in the world. It’s a potential career-changing fight for Lima and for the validity of the welterweight division. 

Brent Primus

Overview: In a fight Primus closed as a +585 underdog, nobody believe he could win this fight. But when Michael Chandler took a misstep, and he couldn’t put any weight on his leg, Primus’ chances to win this fight skyrocketed. How you win is much less important than winning in MMA, and that’s what Primus did. When the doctor stopped the fight in the middle of round one, Primus was awarded the win as well as becoming the new lightweight champion. 

Outlook: He won’t have much of a choice on next opponent, as Chandler will be given a rematch if he’s not forced to be out for a lengthy period of time. Most would consider it a fluke result, but one thing is clear, the rematch will be much more anticipated than this bout. Can Primus stun Chandler again, or will Chandler reclaim his championship?  


Written by Jay Primetown

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