It is very fitting that CEO Bjorn Rebney describes Bellator as a platform for future MMA stars and the venue for Bellator X is stage of the historical Chicago Theatre. Felice Herrig and Jessica Rakoczy made up the distaff portion of the card. The fight was contested at a 120 pound catch weight. Felice weighed in at 117 and Jessica at 121. This is the lightest weight Jessica has ever fought. Felice was the hometown favorite and was corned by Josh Barnett; Jessica fights is a member of the Vixen Crew and had Kim Couture in her corner.
The first starts with both women meeting in the center. Felice feints a kick. Jessica lands an overhand right. They clinch and Felice lands a knee. They circle trying to get dominance over one another in the clinch. Felice pushes Jessica into the fence, but Jessica circles out and throws a knee. Jessica lands a left. Jessica lands a knee and they separate. Felice attempts a front kick, but Jessica is keeping a long range. They clinch again and Felice gets the takedown. Felice has side mount. Jessica shrimps and gets into half butterfly. Felice lands a right then postures up. Jessica tries to stand but Felice pulls her back down. Jessica sits up and lands a loose guillotine on Felice that eventually turns into double under hooks. Felice gets to half guard and grabs a side headlock. Jessica rolls Felice and winds up in her guard. Jessica pushes Felice into the fence. Felice uses a high guard to negate Jessica. Jessica postures up and lands a right. Felice uses an omoplata like move to reverse Jessica. Jessica’s arm is trapped between Felice’s legs; this gives Felice the opportunity to land a series of rights. The bell sounds ending a very close round.
The bell rings for the second round. They meet again in the middle. Felice throws a left front kick that misses. Felice throws to the midsection then throws a right to Jessica’s head. They separate and Felice throws another front kick. She’s using it like a jab to find range. Jessica throws a right left combo. Felice throws a body kick but Jessica is out of range but Felice lunges in with a straight left. They clinch. Felice pulls Jessica down and throws a knee. Jessica pushes Felice into the fence but exposes her neck. Felice grabs a guillotine and Jessica slams her with a thud. Felice loses her grip and it becomes more of a headlock with an under hook. Jessica gets her head out and lands a left hook from the top. Felice does a great job holding Jessica in tight. Felice slaps on a triangle. The referee is keeping a close eye on Jessica. [It should be mentioned this is the same referee who called a technical submission earlier in the night. The fans weren’t happy.] Jessica escapes the triangle, but lands in an arm bar. [The referee is in tight. It almost seems another technical submission is coming.] Jessica stacks Felice. There isn’t much action from the stacked position so the referee separates them. Felice throws an inside leg kick; Jessica answers with one of her own. Both throw left hooks. Jessica shoots on Felice. Felice again slaps on a guillotine. If Jessica’s earlier slam produced a thud; then this has to be a boom. Felice retains the hold, but it is arm in. Jessica pushes out and moves to half guard. Felice moved Jessica back into full guard. Jessica stacks Felice and escapes to the side.
Round three opens with both fighters throwing lefts. Felice snaps off two leg kicks that force Jessica to back away. Felice fakes a right and throws a right leg kick behind it. Jessica lands a left to Felice midsection. Felice snaps out a left. Felice goes for the take down, but Jessica is able to stuff it. Felice clinches and Jessica goes for a take down, but is blocked. Jessica drives Felice into the fence. After a few seconds along the cage, Jessica backs away. Felice throws a left hook then a jab. She follows that up with a front leg kick. Jessica throws a left, closes, and then throws another left. Felice kicks Jessica’s thigh. Felice throws a looping left only to be answered by a right from Jessica. Jessica blocks a knee and throws a hard right. Felice sends out a left to establish range and misses with the follow-up left. Felice ducks a straight right from Jessica. Jessica misses a left uppercut and Felice tries to connect with a left hook. Felice launches a straight right. Felice drives Jessica back into the cage. Jessica stuffs the takedown and walks Felice back to the center of the cage where they separate. Jessica misses with a right; Felice connects with a left. Jessica lands a left to Felice’s stomach. Jessica lands two solid rights to the jaw of Felice. Felice backs Jessica away with another front kick. Felice throws a left and the round ends.
The fight goes to the judges and Felice wins by split decision. We saw very close first round, a great second round by Felice, the third looked like Jessica’s after she established her range. The judges saw it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 in favor of Felice.
Post Fight Conference:
I had the opportunity to ask Bjorn Rebney about rumors of the 115 pound women’s tournament. He told us that it is something he is working hard to make happen. When I followed up with asking about Megumi Fujii’s absence in the next JEWELS event, he said it would be very hard to run a 115 pound women’s tournament without the lady most regarded to be the best in that class. He also mentioned Rosi Sexton as a possibility. I asked how Elena Reid figured into Bellator’s plans. Bjorn talked of how talented the 115 division is and seemed to like the position that Bellator is in where they have a wide open weight class to promote so many great fighters.