The Bellator 149 main card began with a 150 lbs catchweight tilt between featherweights Emmanuel Sanchez and Daniel Pineda, continued with a light heavyweight rematch between former champion Emanuel Newton and Linton Vassell, and then lightweights Melvin Guillard and Derek Campos. Here's how those bouts played out, as we near the co-main (Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000) and main event (Ken Shamrock vs. Royce Gracie) of the evening.
Emmanuel Sanchez def. Daniel Pineda via split decision (28-29, 29-27, 29-28) - 150 lbs catchweight
Pineda got off to a strong start with a couple of takedowns as well as some submission attempts, all while Sanchez was forced to work on the defensive. The 1st round was in Pineda's favor, but Sanchez had a better 2nd round. Emmanuel was able to gain top control and land some ground strikes on Pineda multiple times, although Pineda scrambled effectively to get out of bad spots. A questionable referee stand-up led to Pineda throwing a bizarre cartwheel kick that ended up with him on his back. He rolled for a kneebar but Sanchez stood out of it to avoid any danger.
The 3rd round was all Sanchez, who battered a tiring Pineda's right eye with vicious ground-and-pound. Pineda wasn't able to win the scrambles and gain himself an advantageous ground position like he was able to do in round 1 and part of round 2. Sanchez had Pineda hurt with strikes while standing, but chose to clinch and got taken down for his troubles. He rolled his way into top position and kept the pressure on Pineda, fending off sub attempts and sweeps and getting himself into full mount. It was a sloppy full mount, as Sanchez lost position and they returned to their feet. A desperate spinning kick by Pineda failed, he returned to his back, concluding a fun fight. Sanchez's final round even earned him a 10-8 on one judge's card.
Linton Vassell def. Emanuel Newton via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27)
Vassell's wrestling gave Newton major problems, and once he got the former champ down he advanced to backmount and rained down strikes. The Brit maintained his base and Newton seemed completely overmatched physically. Vassell wasn't close to finishing the fight but he was dominating him. In the final minute, Newton managed to escape mount and tried taking Vassell's back, but he lost position. Newton took Vassell down to end an otherwise one-sided round.
Newton came out aggressive and briefly took Vassell down but didn't hold him there. They engaged in striking from range before Newton swiftly kicked Vassell in the nuts for the 2nd time in the fight. The fight resumed with Vassell landing solid jabs before Newton was able to get Vassell to the mat and control him momentarily. Vassell got back to his feet and they had a clinch battle. Newton kneed Vassell in his nether regions yet again, prompting Kerry Hatley to deduct a point. Vassell scored with a good head kick before the round ended.
Despite Newton's attempts to control Vassell and win the round on the ground, Linton was the stronger and superior fighter. Vassell more or less wrapped up the fight with a late takedown and full-mount, then back-mount. He elbowed and punched Newton continuously until the final horn sounded for an otherwise un-exciting encounter. It's a revenge victory for Vassell, but I'm sure he wishes it was for the title.
Derek Campos def. Melvin Guillard via KO (punches) at :32 of round 2
The first 20 seconds was absolute madness as Guillard swung for the fences and initiated a slugfest. Guillard ended up being rocked and wobbled with what appeared to be an accidental clash of heads. Campos took Guillard down soon after that wild sequence. He controlled and landed some strikes on Melvin for a couple of minutes before Guillard stood back up and returned to his strategy of firing away the KO punch. Not much of significane landed in the final minute of a wild 1st.
In the 2nd round, Guillard was drilled by a big left hand by Campos. A vicious combination against the fence featuring a barrage of lefts and rights sent Guillard crumbling to the canvas and out cold. Campos snaps a two-fight losing skid with only the 5th KO win of his career. Guillard is now 0-2 in Bellator, having suffered just the 2nd KO loss of his career. Here's the KO footage.