Don’t these promoters know we only have two eyes?
Saturday was beyond busy for combat sports fans, with two major boxing cards and two huge offerings from the biggest MMA companies. The end result was a night that had everything we love about combat sports-violence, blood, controversy, crazy knockouts, brutal submissions, new stars emerging, and that feeling that can only happen when two great competitors push each other to a new level, and we as fans, are lucky and blessed enough to be along for the ride…
After Lomachenko-Linares opened the night and as UFC presented their latest pay per view, Bellator MMA and HBO Boxing vied for their slice of the combat sports fan pie. The end saw both platforms focus some hot action and lift some potential new stars.
On the heels of an excellent and very well received Bellator 198 show several weeks ago, the leaders of the UFC resistance did their damndest to put their best foot forward and did so in what was once the home arena of Strikeforce was the site for the fight for MMA relevance.
The main event saw the final bout of the first round of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix come to shocking conclusion with Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader needing only fifteen seconds to finish longtime promotional star and former Strikeforce Champ King Mo. Bader needed only a single short left hook to the chin to dispose of Mo, with the follow GNP barley necessary. Bader has been by many, including me, as the favorite in this tournament and he proved why here. Next up in the semifinals for him is Matt Mitrione, an athletic striker who has had problems with strong wrestlers. It’s a good fight for Bader to be sure.
Bellator did its best to showcase more of its prime talents on this show, although it was knockouts this time, unlike the submission fest we saw at 198. Cheick Kongo became the winningest heavyweight in promotional history, cracking Javy Alaya with a right hand and finishing with some pretty sick GNP.
Maybe the promotion’s brightest prospect Aaron Pico, shot to 3-1 with an excellent knockout of the vastly more experienced Lee Morrison, flattening another with a sick body shot. Pico has come along way since losing his debut in 24 seconds a year ago and has all the looks of a future star.
The questionable fight on this card saw the debuting Jon Fitch, the longtime former UFC welterweight contender and former WSOF champion, pound out longtime Bellator standout Paul Daley, who failed in his “protect his house” role once again. Daley had a good first round, consistently defending Fitch takedown attempts and hurting him several times at the end of the round. But Fitch got Daley down in the second round and beat the crap out of him.
Fitch got Daley down early in the third round, but his shots were peppering instead of devastating, and Daley’s commentary as Fitch tapped him was hilarious. Why Bellator insists matching Daley this way (he took a similar beating against Rory McDonald) is beyond me. He is consistently exciting for them and gets them pub. He deserves better.
That being said, this event should be seen as another win for the promotion. The heavyweight grand prix has been a success so far and they are doing their best to be a viable opposition to the UFC. I’m rooting for them.
Main Card Results
Ryan Bader (25-5) defeats “King Mo” Lawal (21-7, 1 NC) via KO (punch) – Round 1, 0:15
Jon Fitch (31-7-1, 1 NC) defeats Paul Daley (40-16-2) via UD (29-27, 29-26, 29-26)
Aaron Pico (3-1) defeats Lee Morrison (19-9) via TKO (body punch) – Round 1, 1:10
Cheick Kongo (28-10-2) defeats Javy Ayala (10-7) via KO (punches) – Round 1, 2:29
Adam Piccolotti (10-2) defeats Carrington Banks (7-1) via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:41
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