The world of mixed martial arts is no stranger to controversies and allegations of rigged events. In a recent resurgence of an old Bellator MMA match, a prominent MMA analyst has raised questions about the authenticity of the competition.
The match in question was a welterweight bout between Haim Gozali and Artur Pronin, which took place on the main card of Bellator 234 in November 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. While the event itself had its share of exciting and legitimate matchups, the Gozali vs. Pronin bout raised suspicions among fans.
Critics of the match pointed out several peculiarities that fueled their suspicions. The fighters’ exchanges during the match seemed oddly gentle, almost resembling a sparring session. Both competitors threw light body kicks and punches, and their actions gave the impression that they were intentionally avoiding causing harm to each other.
Furthermore, fans noticed that the punches that did land appeared unusually weak, raising questions about the authenticity of the bout. Pronin’s actions, such as willingly transitioning into submission attempts and willingly taking the bottom position, added to the skepticism.
The most questionable moment of the match came during a submission attempt. Gozali initially went for an armbar but suddenly transitioned to a heel hook. What made this moment particularly suspicious was that Pronin’s knee was not even trapped, yet he tapped out.
At the time many speculated that Gozali vs Pronin was a work. This is because:
– zero serious head strikes
– Pronin kept throwing himself into submissions or bottom position
– Pronin tapped to a heel hook with his knee free
Not saying it was fixed but it’s GOAT Bellator moment pic.twitter.com/RVWgiWB9Gd
— Jack Slack (@JackSlackMMA) October 10, 2023
This sequence of unusual events led many fans to believe that the match might have been rigged to ensure Gozali’s victory. Adding to the skepticism was the fact that Pronin had previously enjoyed a seven-win streak, establishing himself as a formidable grappling expert who had submitted numerous opponents.
The timing and circumstances of the fight also raised eyebrows. Gozali was competing on the same card as his son, Aviv Gozali, and the bout was in his hometown, making it his last promotional fight. These factors, along with the peculiarities of the match, led fans to speculate that there might have been more to this bout than met the eye.
While there is no concrete evidence to confirm whether the match was indeed rigged, the questions raised by fans have reignited the debate over the integrity of MMA competitions, emphasizing the need for transparency and regulation in the sport.