Sometimes a sequel can surpass its predecessor in critical acclaim or at the box office, and sometimes both. But for every Aliens or Terminator 2, there's going to be an Alien Resurrection or Terminator Genysis. Likewise with combat sports, we can see rematches that provide just as much excitement and fireworks the first time we saw it happen.
However, this is not how things work out most of the time.
And it seems that Bellator's booking department has decided to make the latter their forte. It's like a half broken copy machine that's almost out of toner. It stopped being able to make a good approximation of the original a long time ago and is now content to just spit out increasingly dimmer and crappier versions of what it started with. Worst of all, most of the originals they're working with were terrible fights the first time around.
I'm not sure if it's because of incompetence or if this company has outright contempt for their fans.
Some of these fights can be explained by a simple lack of depth in a division, Bellator has never had a very deep bench to pull from, but many of them can't. Trying to cash in on a rivalry that hadn't been hot for several presidential elections or simply staging a rematch because their preferred fighter didn't win seem to the be the main motivations behind a lot of these fights.
So without any further ado, lets dive into some of the worst rematches in Bellator history.
King Mo vs. Emanuel Newton
If you've read King Mo - Lowering The Bar, then you already know the details behind this, if not then I'll sum up for you. Mo was Bellator's newest acquisition and they wanted to get their Light Heavyweight title on him as soon as possible. To facilitate this they inserted him into their Season 8 tournament with the idea being he'd dominate everyone in his path. However a spinning backfist from Newton in the semifinals was all it took to put a quick (and hilarious) end to those plans.
So in what would become custom in Bellator, they simply took a mulligan on the whole thing and moved the goalposts. First they cut the size of their Season 9 tournament from 8 fighters to just 4. Then they stacked the brackets to help insure Mo wouldn't have to clear as high of a bar as last time. Third, rather than give Newton the title shot he had earned by winning the previous tournament, Bellator kept both him and then champion Attila Végh on ice.
Their story was that Végh had injured himself (he was fine), so instead Newton would have to settle for a rematch with Mo, this time with an interim Light Heavyweight title on the line. The fight wasn't nearly as entertaining as it was the first time around, but once again Newton was the one getting his hand raised.
However we're not finished with Mo just yet.
King Mo vs. Quinton Jackson
These gentlemen had beef dating back to the late 00's when Mo was still in Strikeforce and Quinton was looking for his next thing to complain about in the UFC. Several years later when they both wound up on the Bellator roster it was inevitable they would be matched up at some point. They faced off in the Season 10 tournament final (which also consisted of just 4 fighters) held at Bellator's inaugural PPV event. The terrible fight was a fitting way to cap off what had been a terrible event with an insanity inducing slow pace.
The whole thing wound up being completely pointless because Quinton never bothered to cash in his title shot. Instead he soon grew unhappy with his contract (shocking I know) and demanded his release. He wound up having a single fight in the UFC the following year and wound rejoin Bellator about a year after that.
Three years after their original fight, by virtue of the Mo experiment having crashed and burned, a rematch between to two was setup. Only this time it would be at Heavyweight, by virtue of Quinton having lost the last fuck he had to give, and it wouldn't be on PPV.
We will be coming back around to Bellator 120 later on, but there is more to cover with Jackson before we get there.
Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva
Pride Final Conflict 2003 November 9, 2003
Pride 28 October 31, 2004
UFC 92 December 27, 2008
Bellator 206 September 29, 2018
Jackson and Silva had a legendary rivalry back in the Pride era, where Silva handed Quinton two knockouts via some very vicious knees. Four years later the UFC decided to stage a trilogy bout. Jackson winning by KO wasn't much of a shock or surprise since Silva was already clearly on the decline, so many thought that would be the end of it.
Ten years later however, Scott Coker took a look at these two and decided there was indeed more blood that could be wrung from this stone and setup a fourth fight. Silva hadn't had his hand raised in over five years while Jackson had lost his last two. It shared honors for the Bloody Elbow "WHY!?" award along with Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell 3 last year.
If you've ever believed Bellator's Heavyweight division was packed with top shelf talent, I'm going to shatter that illusion right now.
This pairing is only being listed because of how each fight ended, otherwise it would have been forgotten to history. The first had Santos kicking Prindle in the junk so hard while on the ground that Eric would later require surgery to remove his testicles from his throat. The second went almost exactly the same way only with their positions reversed, where Prindle ground Santos' lil fellas into the canvas with an ax kick. It should be noted that this happened mere moments after the ref directly warned him not to kick him in bean bag.
Bellator 120 May 17, 2014
Bellator 131 November 15, 2014
If this setup starts sounding familiar to you, that's because it should.
Originally this was ging to be a trilogy fight with then current Lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. Previously Eddie had lost the title to Chandler and later tried to sign with the UFC. But lawsuits were filed and eventually it was determined that Eddie would stay in Bellator and rematch Chandler for the title. Winning that fight setup this rematch, which I believe was part of the terms of the lawsuit settlement, Eddie had two more fights before he was free to leave.
However Alvarez was forced to withdraw a week out after suffering from a concussion, as a result Will Brooks was tapped to be his short notice replacement. And now the fight would be for an interim Lightweight title. Many assumed Chandler would be the one leaving with the belt, but it was the +800 underdog Brooks who got his hand raised.
By the end of that summer Alvarez was granted his release and quickly signed with the UFC, vacating his Bellator title in the process. Normally this would mean Brooks would be promoted from interim champion to full champion, but this is Bellator and that's now how they do things. Instead if Brooks wanted to be considered the "real" champion, he would have to face off with Chandler yet again, this time for the vacant belt.
Wanting to put a stamp on his claim to the title, Brooks punched Chandler in the temple so hard he more or less waved the fight off himself, literally going "No mas!" to the ref. Between his fights with Alvarez, Brooks, and Primus, I believe this makes him the leader for number of rematches.
UFC Fox 14 January 24, 2015
Bellator 180 June 24, 2017
While their first fight in the UFC wasn't one of the all time worst it was still pretty bad, and I defy anyone not named Ben Kohn to describe it in any great detail or in a positive light. But after both men jumped ship to Bellator it was inevitable that their paths would cross again, whether fans wanted to see it or not.
Instead of an exciting fight between two of the best talents on their roster, we got another 25 minutes of two wrestlers having a boring boxing match, but with the variation of a title being on the line. At the time I described these two as like trying to mix motor oil and peanut butter, and I still stand by that.
Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie
Twenty years is a long time. Twenty years is long enough for a new life to be created, grow up, and go to college before starting a family of its own. It's a generation gap is what I'm saying. So the reaction most people would have to hearing the proposal of taking a 49 year old steroid cheat and having him fight a 52 year old steroid cheat twenty years past their prime would be "Hard pass".
As I've established, Scott Coker is not one of those people. No, he's the kind of person who cackles like a villain from Inspector Gadget at the very idea of such a fight. Nostalgia is one hell of a drug and he mainlines that shit. Whiskey and wine get better the longer they age, fighters however do not.
It should come as no surprise that the fight was as rancid as a glass of IPA left out in the sun for a few hours.
I have as much interest writing about this pairing as both fighters apparently had in actually fighting during their rematch a few weeks ago. Read: zero.
TUF 16 Finale December 15, 2012
Bellator 194 February 16, 2018
Both Roy and Matt's UFC careers started off on the much maligned 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter where they were both members of Rashad Evans' Gold team, but they wouldn't trade leather until three years later. At the time Roy was a guy who either won by knockout or lost an ugly decision while Meathead was still a green fighter with deceptively decent striking and not much else.
By the time their second meeting took place, Roy was now a guy who mostly lost ugly one sided decisions while Meathead was a well seasoned fighter with decent striking and nothing resembling a ground game, however he had managed to add Fedor Emelianenko's scalp to his trophy case. That's not really an example of how far Mitrione had come but rather just how far Fedor has fallen.
This fight was in the opening round of an eight fighter "Heavyweight Grand Prix" in which half of the participants were either Middleweights or Light Heavyweights.
UFC 137 October 29, 2011
Bellator 216 February 16, 2019
Note: I started work on this several weeks ago, the news about Cro Cop's apparent stroke broke this past Friday.
When Joe Silva was first putting UFC 137 together, no one could have predicted that so many footnotes would become attached to it. Instead of the original main event of GSP vs. Nick Diaz, fans got Diaz vs BJ Penn with as the replacement with Matt Mitrione taking on Cheick Kongo in the co-main. The Nelson Mirko pairing was really an inconsequential fight on a lame PPV, but Roy was able to save his job by knocking Cro Cop out and out of the UFC.
So naturally many years later when Roy was now 42 years young and Mirko was a spry 44, Bellator decided to have them do a rematch. It was akin to watching your two drunk uncles try and slug it out in the backyard after Thanksgiving dinner because one prefers Busch over Bud Light.
Bellator 139 June 26, 2015
Bellator 157 June 24, 2016
Stop me if you've heard this one...
Much like the aforementioned Mo/Newton and Chandler/Brooks fights, this is yet another example of Bellator hitting the rewind button when they didn't get their desired result the first time around. While Schilling is an accomplished kickboxer, he's proven to be a rather terrible MMA fighter, and his current 3-5 record reflects that.
They brought in Kato, who had been knocked out in his previous fight a few months before, with the idea being that he wouldn't pose much of a threat to Joe and would make for nice highlight reel fodder. As you can probably guess by now, that is not what happened. Instead all it took was one punch from Kato to send Schilling down to the mat out cold. Naturally this couldn't be allowed to stand.
So Bellator booked a rematch one year later, this time stacking the deck in Joe's favor by having it take place under their kickboxing brand. It should be noted that Kato had precisely zero kickboxing experience up to this point while for Schilling it would be his 28th bout. That doesn't really seem fair now does it?
Despite their best laid plans, once again Kato sent Joe to the land of wind and ghosts with a knockout and left his employers with egg on their face.
So as you can see, the isn't a new development for Bellator, it's been a long standing problem that has only continued to get worse and worse. And I don't think it will be changing anytime soon either. Between having such a thin roster and lack of desire or ability to create new and compelling matchups, the Bellator fans better get used to this being the norm.
Assuming Cro Cop makes a recovery and is able to fight again, this is a list of possible rematches they could put together tomorrow.
Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo UFC 107 December 12, 2009
Frank Mir vs. Cro Cop UFC 119 September 25, 2010
Frank Mir vs . Roy Nelson UFC 130 May 28, 2011
Roy Nelson vs. Justin Wren TUF 10 Summer 2009
Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo UFC 159 April 27, 2013
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione UFC 137 October 29, 2011
Cheick Kongo vs. Cro Cop UFC 75 September 8, 2007
And that's just off the top of my head. Do any of them sound like compelling fights in 2019? Hell no! But I'm willing to bet my lunch money that at least a few of them will wind up taking place at some point under the Bellator banner. Recycling plastic and metal is good, recycling fights is bad, stop it Bellator.