Bellator 186 is in the books as the top of the billing saw Ryan Bader stop Linton Vassell with ground strikes to retain his light heavyweight title. The co-main event saw Bellator crown their very first flyweight champion, as Ilima MacFarlane submitted Emily Ducote with a stellar fifth round armbar from her back. Phil Davis had a successful Penn State homecoming as he earned a unanimous nod over Leonardo Leite, and Ed Ruth showed us all that he is not just a wrestler, as he slept Chris Dempsey with a single punch in the 2nd round of their middleweight tilt. Saad Awad made short work of Zach Freeman, as he dusted the “Altar Boy” in just 1:07 into the first round to open up the Bellator 186 main card.
***A noteworthy event occurred on the undercard, as Tywan Claxton made his pro debut with superb style, as he defeated Jonny Bonilla-Bowman with one of the craziest flying knees that you will ever see.
Ryan Bader def. Linton Vassell by TKO at 3:58 of round 2: Light Heavyweight Title
Bader closed the distance early behind his patented power punching, and just when Vassell looked like he was going to secure a takedown, Bader hits a beautiful throw to find top position. Once back on the feet, Vassell landed a couple of buckling leg kicks, but Bader had enough of that and blasted a well timed double leg to put his opponent on his back. Vassell managed to return to his feet, but Bader put him right back down on the mat with relative ease.
Bader blasted another double leg behind a right hand to kick off the second round, and held the position for a solid chunk of time. From the bottom, Vassell landed some surprisingly effective punches, until Bader went beast mode and uncorked some vicious ground strikes of his own that put Vassell out. Bellator’s light heavyweight king has defended his crown in brutal fashion!
Ilima MacFarlane def. Emily Ducote by Submission (Armbar) at 3:42 of round 5: (W) Flyweight Title
Just as expected, these flyweights went right at each other, jockeying for position in the clinch. MacFarlane started to find success with her hands, landing tight combos that got the attention of Ducote, before successfully transitioning to a takedown. MacFarlane would spend the remainder of the round in top position, searching for submissions as Ducote defended.
MacFarlane found early success with a stiff jab, as the flyweights chose to knuck for the entire second round. Ducote seemed to be looking for the counter, but that only allowed MacFarlane to pick her shots, leaving Ducote late to the party and out of rhythm.
Ducote came out in the third round launching unchecked leg kicks, until MacFarlane closed the distance and began to uncork some knees to the gut. Ducote was caught clean with a combo while spectating, and Macfarlane followed up by initiating the takedown and pressing her opponent against the cage. The takedown finally materialized in the final 20 seconds of the round, but MacFarlane was unable to do anything with it.
The striking battle continued into the championship rounds, with MacFarlane landing the much sharper strikes, and more often at that. Ducote continued to work her outside leg kick, but struggled to follow up with her hands. Ducote exploded on a takedown but MacFarlane was ready for it, or so she thought, as Ducote scrambled into top position before the round expired.
Ducote returned to the leg kick in final frame, with MacFarlane finally showing signs of damage. MacFarlane found herself on her back with about 3.5 minutes remaining in the fight, but showcased her patented 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, transitioning from rubber guard to a triangle, and finally securing the armbar for the tap. The finish is known as the dead orchard.
Check out Ilima-Lei MacFarlane putting hands on Emily Ducote:
Phil Davis def. Leonardo Leite by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3): Light Heavyweight
We saw ‘kickboxing Phil Davis’ right off the bat, as Davis looked to work his strikes against the grappler in Leite. Leite successfully closed the distance, but it was Davis who found the top position. Davis opted to separate and return to his striking, where he seemed to have more of an advantage.
Davis came out in the second frame working his strikes, but accidentally poked Leite in the eye, resulting in a brief halt to the action. The action resumed, and Davis continued to work his boxing attack, as Leite unsuccessfully looked for a trip whenever the fight moved on the inside.
Leite really allowed Davis to dictate the pace of the fight, as Davis was content to keep his opponent just at the end of his punches. Down the stretch, Davis was getting crafty with his punching combinations, throwing straight and then coming wide with some hooks. Leite did a sound job of not eating too many clean strikes, but was awfully defensive for the bulk of the fight.
Ed Ruth def. Chris Dempsey by KO at :27 of round 2: Middleweight
Despite the NCAA credentials of Ruth, Dempsey was first to close the distance. Ruth found some separation and looked to work his strikes, but the takedown just sort of manifested and the grappling game began. Ruth was all over his opponent, but was unable to land any significant damage before Dempsey made it back to his feet. Each fighter landed some descent shots in the final minute of the opening round, but Ruth was wise to snag a takedown before the round ended.
The middleweights came out throwing leather to start the second stanza, but it was Ruth who landed a clean right cross right behind the ear of his foe that buckled Dempsey, ending the fight. Ruth’s return to Penn State seems extra sweet with this one-punch knockout and the crowd chanting ‘Ruuuuuuuuth!’
Ladies and gentlemen, Ed Ruth is not just a wrestler:
Saad Awad def. Zach Freeman by TKO 1:07 of round 1: Lightweight
Saad Awad made quick work of Zach Freeman here, dropping his opponent with one well placed right hand, sending Freeman crashing face first to the canvas. Awad’s punch seemed to wipe out the equilibrium of Freeman, and Awad took the opportunity to refuse any follow up, and walk away with the one-punch finish.
Dominic Mazzotta def. Matt Lozano by TKO (Doc Stoppage) at 2:37 of round 1: Featherweight
Nice anaconda choke by Dominic Mazzotta. That does not look pleasant. pic.twitter.com/dzW3Hkp2wc— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) November 4, 2017
Tywan Claxton def. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman by KO (Flying Knee) at 1:29 of round 1: Featherweight
GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY!!!!-
Joshua Fremd def. Ryan Parker by Submission (RNC) at 1:25 of round 2: Middleweight