Well that was weird. Bellator 226 just wound down at the AP Center in San Jose, CA after a headlining heavyweight title bout between champ Ryan Bader and challenger Cheick Kongo.
The main event lasted less than four minutes and featured near total control from Bader, who hit Kongo hard in the opening exchanges before landing a huge takedown. From there Bader looked for a submission and ground and pound, but in the process he was judged to of accidentally fouled Kongo with a thumb to the eye. With Kongo unable to compete after that, the fight was ruled a no contest. As a result Bader retains, but does not defend, his belt.
The anti-climatic finale took another twist as Bader tried to exit the cage. He was met at the cage door by Kongo’s friend and training partner Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. A light scuffle ensued, but there were enough bodies between the former opponents to prevent any kind of serious brawl. Bader was escorted out of a separate exit and that was the end of that.
The strangeness around the main event shouldn’t detract from the exciting featherweight grand prix matches that were settled on the main card. Four opening round contests went down and Pedro Carvalho, Derek Campos, Adam Borics, and Emmanuel Sanchez advanced to the next round of the million dollar tournament on the back of impressive performances.
The prelim card delivered the goods, too. After two decisions to start the broadcast, we were treated to six stoppages in a row (including a bulldog choke).
Check out the full results and some highlights below.
Heavyweight: Ryan Bader vs. Cheick Kongo ends in a no contest (accidental foul), round 1 (3:52).
Bader clipped Kongo twice with lefts early on, prompting Kongo to look for a takedown. He couldn’t get it, though. Bader continued to walk down the 41-year-old and landed punches at will before launching into a double leg takedown. On the ground Bader easily got into side control. From there the American took full mount and then peppered Kongo with a few punches. Kongo was able to find his way to the fence and a seated position, but Bader wouldn’t let him go completely. As Bader threw punches and looked to set up a d’arce, his thumb dipped into Kongo’s left eye. Mike Beltran called for a pause.
The ringside physician took a look at Kongo and didn’t like what he saw. He called the fight off as Kongo’s eye began swelling shut. The official ruling, an accidental foul leading to a doctor’s stoppage. No contest. The belt stays with Bader.
Featherweight: Derek Campos def. Daniel Straus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25).
Straus gave his opponent the early advantage in the first round after he fell off of a kick attempt. Campos seized on the fall climbed on top of Straus. He wasn’t able to do much in all the time he was there, though. From the bottom Straus threw elbows and hunted for a kimura. For a moment Campos looked as though he might have been able to turn Straus’ kimura attempts into an arm triangle, but he couldn’t lock it in.
In the second, Campos quickly took Straus down in the middle of the cage. This time he was more active, immediately throwing ground strikes to the head and body. Straus seemed out of ideas on his back. Campos slowly secured full mount and then alternated between ground and pound and choke attempts. Straus was able to survive to see another round, though.
Campos tested Straus on the feet at the beginning of the third, but after a minute and a half, he secured another easy takedown. This time he was able to transition quickly from Straus’ guard to full mount and then a tight arm triangle attempt. Campos let go on the submission and decided to wail on Staus’ ribs from full mount. He then shifted focus to Straus’ head, with punches and elbows. Straus was able to get up with 30 seconds left. Campos and Straus then swung for the fences, with Straus possibly injuring his arm or shoulder in the process. Either the injury or a shot from Campos sent Straus down to the mat, Campos tried to finish him there (with a flying, twisting, cartwheel kick at one point), but couldn’t beat the bell.
Featherweight: Adam Borics def. Pat Curran via TKO (punches), round 2 (4:59).
The opening round’s highlights for this fight included Borics’ high octane jumping knee attempts and a few hard landing leg kicks. Other than that, it was a cautious round of stand-up fighting from both men.
The caution continued in the second round, much to the chagrin of the crowd. Curran looked to cheer them up by wading forwards and throwing punches, one of which seemed to land. Borics’ initial offense in the round was limited to mostly to leg kicks, which did redden Curran’s left thigh and knee. But with a minute left the Hungarian launched a flying knee that landed on Curran’s ear and dropped the veteran. Borics swarmed on Curran and tried to put his opponent away with ground and pound. It looked as though Curran had been saved by the bell, but referee Frank Trigg had actually called an end to the fight just as the round ended.
Featherweight: Pedro Carvalho def. Sam Sicilia via submission (face crank), round 2 (1:56).
Sicilia and Carvalho didn’t waste much time, as they both came out looking to land combos. Carvalho looked to get the best of those earliest exchanges, but Sicilia was able to execute a takedown in the middle of the cage. On the ground Sicilia worked towards Carvalho’s back and sunk in a body triangle. He then searched for a choke or kimura, but was eventually shucked off as Carvalho made it to his feet. Sicilia got another takedown soon after and again found his way to Carvalho’s back. The Portuguese fighter was able to reverse the position. On top Carvalho attacked with a guillotine choke and then an anaconda, but neither was deep enough to end the fight.
Carvalho started the second brightly, landing a jumping knee and a kick to the body. Sicilia fired back with wild punches aimed at Carvalho’s jaw. After a few exchanges the action was dragged to the ground with Carvalho ending up on Sicilia’s back, up against the cage. From there, Carvalho quickly got his forearm across the UFC vet’s chin, eliciting a quick tap.
Featherweight: Emmanuel Sanchez def. Ty-wan Claxton via submission (triangle choke), round 2 (4:11).
Sanchez was able to avoid much of Claxton’s offense in the first, up until Claxton landed a takedown against the cage. El Matador was able to bother Claxton with punches and elbows from the bottom before squirming back to his feet. With ten seconds left in the period Sanchez landed a takedown of his own and got full mount out of it. He rained down blows until the buzzer sounded.
In the second Claxton opened the action with a flying knee, which was blocked. He then had a takedown attempt stuffed. Against the cage, Sanchez pestered Claxton with foot stomps and head-fighting. Claxton responded with a successful takedown. However, Claxton landed awkwardly, with Sanchez’s legs wrapped around his neck and shoulders. It didn’t take much for Sanchez to change that position into a fully locked on triangle choke.
It took some time, but after some wriggling, a lot of squeezing, and some nasty elbows, Claxton tapped.
@ElMatador145 puts a convincing end to his first round in his #FeatherweightWGP entrance tonight at #Bellator226.— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) September 8, 2019
Watch tonight's main card from The @SAPCenter LIVE on @DAZN_USA in the US and with @SkySports in the UK. pic.twitter.com/ExsxXeTaFq
Welterweight: Daniel Carey def. Gaston Bolanos via technical submission (guillotine choke), round 1 (4:19).
Few people saw this coming. After a patient stand-up duel that lasted for around three minutes, Carey got a hold of Bolanos’ neck — off a missed punch. Bolanos didn’t take the threat of a standing guillotine seriously enough, as Carey tightened his grip and then pulled guard. Bolanos dropped to his knee and Carey started smiling, he knew it was just a matter of time. Referee Mike Beltran was well on top of the action and he saw before anyone else that the Peruvian was out cold.
- Featherweight: John Teixeira def. Ashleigh Grimshaw via TKO (doctor stoppage — cuts), round 2 (5:00).
- Lightweight: Adam Piccolotti def. Jake Smith via submission (rear naked choke), round 2 (2:34).
- Featherweight: Jessica Borga def. Amber Leibrock via submission (arm bar), round 1 (4:45).
- Featherweight: Cass Bell def. Isaiah Rocha via technical submission (guillotine choke), round 1 (1:21).
- Welterweight: Batsumberel Dagvadorj def. James Terry via submission (bulldog choke) round 1 (2:41).
- Catchweight: Renato Valente Alves def. Abraham Vaesau via submission (rear naked choke), round 3 (3:36).
- Featherweight: Hyder Amil def. Ignacio Ortiz via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
- Lightweight: Chris Gonzalez def. Luis Vargas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25).