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Better of Bellator MMA in 2022: Patricio Pitbull reclaims his title to earn Fighter of the Yr honors

This yr for Bellator MMA noticed potential stars emerge, a embellished champion regain his crown and veterans attain the head. One combatant was a notch above the remaining in 2022, a sense the fighter is kind of conversant in.

Patricio Pitbull, thought-about by many the best competitor in Bellator historical past, was unanimously voted by CBS Sports activities’ professional panel because the Bellator Fighter of the Yr after reclaiming and defending his featherweight championship. It was a return to kind for a fighter who suffered a crushing loss the yr prior however persevered and overcame.

Have a look beneath at CBS Sports activities’ Bellator Fighter of the Yr, in addition to the athletes who have been deserving of some recognition.

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Winner: Patricio Pitbull 2-0 (def. AJ McKee and Adam Borics)

The 2022 Fighter of the Yr can be arguably the promotion’s all-time biggest. Pitbull reclaimed the featherweight championship and avenged his first loss in six years in opposition to AJ McKee, 2021’s Fighter of the Yr. Pitbull quickly put McKee within the rearview mirror, regulating his rival to the co-main occasion and efficiently defending his featherweight crown against Adam Borics in September.

Not happy together with his lengthy record of accomplishments — three-time featherweight champion, simultaneous two-division champion, most title fights, most wins and most finishes in Bellator historical past, amongst others — Pitbull has a brand new problem forward of him. Pitbull will characterize Bellator on New Yr’s Eve in opposition to RIZIN’s featherweight champion Kleber Koike Erbst. Pitbull deserves a standing ovation for bouncing again and re-emerging as Bellator’s prime canine.

Honorable Point out

Liz Carmouche 2-0 (def. Juliana Velasquez twice)

UFC’s loss was Bellator’s acquire. Carmouche, the primary lady to ever combat for the UFC reverse Ronda Rousey, was unceremoniously dumped by the promotion following a loss to ladies’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in 2019. Any rage Carmouche had was channeled into an explosive Bellator run. Coming into 2022 with three straight wins and two stoppages, Carmouche twice finished Juliana Velasquez to cement herself because the undisputed and undoubted Bellator ladies’s flyweight champion. It’s a heartwarming consequence for certainly one of MMA’s most under-appreciated veterans.

Rafueon Stots/Patchy Combine 2-0

(def. Juan Archuleta and Danny Sabatello/Kyoji Horiguchi and Magomed Magomedov)

Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix finalists Stots and Combine share this spot with out the advantage of future sight. Interim bantamweight champion Stots and former title challenger Combine have emerged because the final two standing and can combat for the interim title and the $1 million prize subsequent yr. Each need to be acknowledged for his or her efforts in 2022, a minimum of till they will settle the matter for themselves.

Stots cracked former champion Archuleta with a shocking head kick KO in April to win the interim title in an eye-opening efficiency. Stots had actually impressed in 4 prior Bellator showings, but it surely was the evolution of his dynamic hanging that actually turned heads. The build-up to his combat in opposition to Danny Sabatello within the semifinals was refreshing in its spiritedness. Stots and Sabatello talked plenty of trash within the lead-up. Though the combat might be most remembered for decide Doug Crosby’s head-scratching scorecard, the appropriate man received and Stots enters 2023 as interim champion.

Combine was thought-about one thing of a darkish horse heading into the match. Combine had misplaced to Archuleta in a 2020 bid for the bantamweight title. Subsequent submission finishes of Albert Morales and James Gallagher have been promising, but it surely was a five-round choice win over match favourite and former champion Kyoji Horiguchi that actually impressed confidence. Combine closed out the yr by swarming Magomed Magomedov, snatching a guillotine choke that rendered Magomedov unconscious and secured his date with Stots.

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