Honeycutt loses unanimous decision to Lovato Jr. at Bellator 189

Chris Honeycutt (Photo/Bellator)

Chris Honeycutt, two-time NCAA All-American wrestler for Edinboro University, suffered only his second loss in his professional mixed martial arts career at Bellator 189 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Friday night.

The 2012 NCAA finalist lost on a unanimous decision to Brazilian jiu-jitsu star Rafael Lovato, Jr. in a three-round middleweight (185-pound) bout that was a co-main event.

While the three judges were in agreement in awarding the bout to Lovato (29-28, 30-27 and 30-27), not all news reports agreed with the officials' decision.

Chris Zahar of Jiu-Jitsu Times wrote, "I have to say, I thought Chris Honeycutt's takedowns would have scored the fight in his favor. The judges saw it differently, though, and gave the fight to Rafael Lovato, Jr. via unanimous decision." was even stronger in its statement on the scoring, saying, "The judges gave the win to Lovato. Horrible decision."

Other websites served up less opinion-sharing in their coverage of the Honeycutt-Lovato, Jr. bout.

"Rafael Lovato, Jr. was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career at Bellator 189," according to "Fortunately, that didn't hinder him much. He left the cage with a unanimous decision win."

"Lovato Jr. threw the kitchen sink at Honeycutt in terms of submission attempts, but he couldn't stop the hard-nosed wrestler," continued. "Honeycutt consistently moved forward and attempted to implement his wrestling game, but his overall offense wasn't very effective." described the fight as "a tepid affair", writing "Honeycutt was never able get anything going as Lovato Jr. landed the more effective strikes on the feet and stifled Honeycutt's takedowns with submission threats."

"Both men played to their strengths as Lovato went for multiple forms of submission, Honeycutt went for multiple takedowns, and each round wound up looking like a carbon copy of the last," according to "What edged the fight Lovato's way was the strikes he landed when it stayed on the feet, the number of times he fought off Honeycutt's takedowns, and the fact Honeycutt couldn't get any dominant spots on top when he did get it to the ground."

After the bout, each contestant weighed in with his assessment of the fight on social media.

Rafael Lovato, Jr. wrote the following on his Instagram account: "lovatojrbjj First time to go the distance tonight. Thankful for the war @christhecutt gave me, much respect & all the best to you in the future. Very grateful to @bellatormma for giving me the Co-Main event spot on @spiketv so my students, friends, & fans around the world could watch. I learned a lot tonight & am very thankful for the experience I gained. I wish I could have got the finish for you all, but I know how important this fight was for my development & I will be that much better next time. Thank you all for the love & support, especially all of my @lovatobjjmma family that was there to cheer me on live. There is more to say, but now I am going to rest & eat a lot of bad food lol.... 7-0 #TrueMartialArtist"

Chris Honeycutt posted the following on Facebook Saturday morning: "Thank you for all the love guys and gals. Obviously I'm not too happy about the outcome. I have watched the video of the fight and truly think I controlled the ring, I put the fight where I wanted it, and I shut down everything he was trying to do. Obviously I could have been a little more active on feet but I was only hit 3-4 times and pressed him continuously. That's my short view of the fight. Love you guys thank you again."

With the win, Lovato, Jr. remains undefeated at 7-0 in his pro MMA career, and 3-0 in Bellator, while Honeycutt, who launched his career in Jan. 2013, is now 10-2 overall, and 6-2 in Bellator. (Honeycutt's only other loss was to former University of Iowa wrestling star Paul Bradley in Jan. 2016.)


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