Bellator kicked off its 2018 on Satruday night with Bellator 192: Rampage vs. Sonnen from Inglewood, CA on Paramount Network.
The show saw an elite prospect deliver for the second straight fight, a title change hands and a strange battle of veterans.
Chael Sonnen def. Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision (29-28 x3) to advance in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix
It wasn’t pretty and no one will confuse it for high-quality mixed martial arts action, but Chael Sonnen was the savvy veteran against Quinton Jackson and that allowed him to advance to the next round in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Jackson was the slowest he’s ever been, a product of carrying more than 250 pounds to the ring, and he was not ready to defend the takedowns of Sonnen. And, really, all it took for Sonnen to win was to score one takedown each round.
Sonnen was able to, once each frame, turn a clinch into a takedown where he used just enough top game to keep the fight grounded and keep Jackson from doing any meaningful work offensively.
Jackson tried to make something happen in Round 3, unloading with some punches, but he couldn’t connect with enough power to change the trajectory of the fight and ended the bout on his back once again.
The judges gave the fight to Sonnen, all scoring the bout 29-28 and now we wait for his semi-final bout sometime later this year.
Rory MacDonald def. Douglas Lima via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-45) to win the Bellator Welterweight Championship
Sporting a potentially broken nose and a hematoma on his shin the size of a medium squash, Rory MacDonald gutted out a unanimous decision win to wrest the Bellator Welterweight Championship from the grasp of Douglas Lima.
MacDonald appeared to clearly win the opening two rounds of the fight, controlling spacing and forcing Lima to battle off his back foot. Lima, however, was landing sneaky leg kicks throughout the rounds.
Those leg kicks turned the tide of the fight in Round 3, when a series of kicks to the rapidly swelling shin dropped MacDonald and allowed Lima to work from top position for the first time in the fight. That momentum was carried into the fourth when MacDonald went for a desperation takedown only to get reversed and mounted. Lima was not able to do much with the mount and MacDonald did end the round on top.
With the fight potentially hanging in the balance heading into the fifth and final round, MacDonald scored a takedown and controlled the action. Lima seemed sadly content to hold on from bottom and ride out almost five full minutes.
The lackluster final round from Lima cost him, but when the scorecards were read, MacDonald had the fight won after four rounds (official scores were 48-47, 49-46 and 49-45).
MacDonald, who has been in with many of the best of the best in his career, called Lima, “the best guy I’ve ever fought,” following his championship-winning performance.
Michael Chandler def. Goiti Yamauchi via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-26)
Michael Chandler expressed belief he and Goiti Yamauchi were the two best lightweights in Bellator ahead of their Bellator 192 meeting.
If that is the case, there’s a pretty sizeable gap between #1 and #2. Chandler dominated the majority of the fight, using his wrestling and top game to bloody Yamauchi.
Yamauchi had a moment early in the second round, landing a pair of head kicks and some big punches that had Chandler’s legs betraying him. He gave up a takedown before he could fully unload, however, and that allowed Chandler to recover before landing punch after punch and elbow after elbow for the second half of the round.
The official scorecards reflect the one-sided nature of the fight with Chandler winning by scores of 30-25 and 30-26 twice.
Following the victory, Chandler said of a rematch with Brent Primus, the man who took the lightweight belt from him due to a leg injury, “That’s not what I want.” He did, however, concede that he is a company man and will do whatever Scott Coker asks of him.
Aaron Pico def. Shane Kruchten via knockout at 0:37 of round 1
Aaron Pico is doing everything in his power to erase the sting of his ultra-disappointing professional debut. He rattled off his second consecutive first-round knockout at Bellator 192.
Pico threw a body shot out of the gate, and another just moments later absolutely melted the more experienced Kruchten.
Pico is now 2-1 as a pro and it’s easy to see why the 21-year-old is a lock as one of the men who will lead the next generation.
Henry Corrales def. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Georgi Karakhanyan wasn’t able to get anything going against Henry Corrales in the Paramount Network opener. Corrales pushed forward throughout the bout, beating Karakhanyan to the punch both literally and figuratively. Corrales’ flashiest moments were punches from the clinch, but it was his consistent pressure that led to him taking the clear unanimous decision.