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Bellator Japan: Fedor vs. Rampage results and post-fight analysis

Trent Reinsmith recaps and analyzes a strange end of year Bellator fight card from Japan.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Before Saturday night, Fedor Emelianenko had not fought inside Saitama Super Arena since 2015, when he scored a first-round TKO win over Jaideep Singh on a Rizin card. That win put Emelianenko’s career record inside the famous arena at 13-0. Emelianenko made it 14-0 on Saturday when he put away Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at the 2:44 mark of the first stanza.

Jackson weighed in at 265 pounds for the heavyweight fight and it looked like he added some additional weight before the bout. Jackson did not look good. He barely moved his feet and did not offer much offense. Jackson did not provide much defense either, as the first time Emelianenko hit him with a hard punch, Jackson crumpled face-first to the mat and shook his head as if to signal that he had enough. The referee agreed with him and waved off the contest.

The punch that put Jackson away showed that at least one of the two fighters in the main event of the Bellator: Japan card took the fight seriously.

After the win, Emelianenko said, via a translator, the fight would be his last. However, there was some talk on Twitter that something got lost in the translation and that Emelianenko might have said that his 14th win at Saitama Super Arena would be his last fight in Japan.

Emelianenko is 3-2 in Bellator. All of his fights with the promotion have ended in the first round.

  • Michael Chandler was expected to face Benson Henderson on this card, but the former UFC titleholder could not compete due to injury. Instead, the ex-Bellator champ met Sidney Outlaw at 160-pounds. Outlaw did not get the chance to make a name for himself off Chandler. The ex-champ used pressure and body shots early to set up the knockout blow, which was a right hand that landed behind Outlaw’s ear. The fight was a good reminder that Chandler, who lost the lightweight title to Patricio Freire in May, is not someone who takes his eyes off the prize.
  • The odds of the 173-pound bout between Michael Page and Shinsho Anzai had Page as the 12-1 favorite, so it was clear what Bellator expected from this fight. The promotion got just that as Page showed out over a very overmatched opponent. The most shocking part of the battle came when commentator John McCarthy said that Page had faced tougher competition than Anderson Silva had 17 fights into his career. As many pointed out on Twitter, a matchup between Larkin and Page would have made much more sense for this event.
  • As one would expect of a 6-1 favorite, Lorenz Larkin put a beating on Keita Nakamura in what was supposed to be a welterweight contest. It was not a 170-pound bout because Larkin weighed in at 173.5 pounds. If Larkin expects a rematch against Bellator welterweight champ Douglas Lima, the promotion might want to ensure that he can make the 170-pound limit before awarding him that title shot.
  • If you ignore the first bit of the opening round of the women’s flyweight bout between Ilara Joanne and Kana Watanabe, it was a walkover for the unbeaten Watanabe. However, it was the early moments of the fight that showed Watanabe, who is superb at judo, is not much of a standup striker. Luckily for her, Joanne is not much of a ground fighter. Watanabe took over the fight when it hit the ground, but she still has a way to go on her feet before she is a threat in the 125-pound division.
  • It would have been great to have a heart rate monitor on Goiti Yamauchi during his lightweight bout with Daron Cruickshank. Yamauchi was eerily calm and clinical throughout the fight. He avoided the striking attempts of Cruickshank and when he found an opening, he slowly climbed the back of his opponent. Yamauchi skillfully took the fight to the mat with a little kick off the cage. He then locked up the rear-naked choke to score his record eighth submission win as a Bellator competitor. Yamauchi tends to get overlooked, but he is 6-1 at lightweight with Bellator. His only loss was a non-title fight to Michael Chandler.