Bellator 209 is in the books and Tel Aviv. Israel witnessed Patricio “Pitbull” Freire successfully defending his featherweight belt against Emmanuel Sanchez in the main event. Pitbull used his power punching throughout, and has now has two successful title defenses in his second run as featherweight king.
In the co-main event, Ryan Couture picked up another unanimous decision win over Haim Gozali, this time even more dominant than the first time. Before that, Vadim Nemkov picked up the biggest win of his pro MMA career when he edged out a split decision over Bellator’s former light heavyweight champ Phil Davis. Nemkov has now bested back-to-back former champs, and you would have to think a title shot will be looming for Fedor Emelianenko’s protege.
Despite his young record, Adam Keresh scored a massive head kick that dropped Kirill Sidelnikov, and then landed a brutal right hand that dropped him again to achieve the knockout in just 72 seconds. Keresh now sits at 3-0 and has a solid name win like Baby Fedor under his belt.
Patricio Freire def. Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision (48-46, 48-47 x2): Featherweight Title
The featherweights met in the middle where they began to feel each other out. Pitbull started landing with power early, but Sanchez wore it well and pressed forward. A clean right hand buckled Pitbull but the defending champ recovered quickly and began throwing back.
Pitbull found success early in round two trading in the pocket and scoring some shots. One of the hooks opened up a severe gash under the right eye of Sanchez but it didn’t seem to bother him too much. Sanchez looked to set up a head kick off of his jab-cross, but Pitbull did a superb job of reading it and moving out of the way.
Sanchez came out in the third frame launching his kicks, both to the body and head. Pitbull threw very little across the first half of the round. Sanchez kept moving forward behind his straight punches that he finished with kicks. Pitbull did score with a flying knee, but Sanchez absorbed it with ease. A last-minute takedown was scored by Pitbull and he finished up the round on top.
Sanchez blasted an early takedown to open the fourth frame, but Pitbull stood up and snagged a double leg of his own. After a bit of top position, Pitbull got back to throwing his heavy counter hooks as Sanchez pressed forward. Sanchez began to rack up some volume towards the end of the round, prompting Pitbull to shoot in and initiate a clinch as the clock ticked down.
The final round saw Sanchez start strong, going right at Pitbull. All of the sudden, a heavy left hook sent Sanchez stumbling, and then a few more heavy punches got through for Pitbull. Sanchez recovered, but ended up with Pitbull on his back up against the fence. Pitbull snagged another takedown and moved right into full mount. Sanchez scrambled up to his feet just to get taken right back down. Somehow Sanchez made it back to his feet again to land a sneaky elbow followed by a knee. Sanchez marched forward in the final 10 seconds as Pitbull backed away.
Ryan Couture def. Haim Gozali by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27): Welterweight
Couture saw a lot of the same success that he saw in his initial matchup with Gozali. Couture found a lot of success in the clinch, and racked a ton of leg kicks, often with Gozali in butt scoot mode. The second round saw a lot more of the same, Gozali willing to flop to his back with Couture standing over him kicking the legs. Gozali landed a few nice punches on the feet in the last round, but Couture started to dominate from top position. He started smashing and stacking Gozali as he dropped his strikes. Gozali did a solid job of preventing any major bombs from Couture, but he was unable to return to his feet before the round ended.
Vadim Nemkov def. Phil Davis by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Light Heavyweight
Nemkov took the center early, but an overhand right from Davis earned a bit of respect. Nemkov went for an anaconda choke after he knocked Davis off balance as he threw a kick, but Davis was able to fend off the hold and return to his feet. Nemkov started to rack up some volume towards the end of the round, but a poor takedown attempt had Davis working for an anaconda as the round expired.
Nemkov got to the leg kicks right away, peppering the lead leg of Davis without much blocking or countering going on. Davis began to press forward, but it was Nemkov that was the one landing the significant strikes. With about 20 seconds remaining in the second round, Nemkov lifted up Davis and slammed him down to the mat, but Davis was quick to stand back up.
Davis pressed forward with some urgency to open up the final frame, but he was unable to land anything of substance. The punches of Davis seemed to be just missing where as Nemkov was connecting. With just under two minutes remaining in the round, Davis realized a takedown and attacked a kimura from side control. Nemkov used Davis’ aggression to stand back up to his feet, but Davis found top position once again and went back to the kimura. Time expired before Davis could sniff out a finish.
Adam Keresh def. Kirill Sidelnikov by KO (Head Kick) at 1:12 of round 1: Heavyweight
Sidelnikov pressed forward early and even dropped Keresh with his hands in the opening sequence. Baby Fedor hit a beautiful toss to spend a brief moment on the ground, but once he stood back up, Keresh blasted him with a flush head kick that dropped Sidelnikov. Just as Sidelnikov scrambled back up to his feet, Keresh launched a lethal right hook that sent Sidelnikov crashing back down to the floor. That’s when the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.