The Bellator 263 main card is almost over, and we got a couple first-round finishes, and some controversial decisions, including the co-main event. Former Bellator title contender Emmanuel Sanchez out-struck Mads Burnell across the first-two rounds with his usual volume, while Burnell had his moments with takedowns and top control. The grappling won out, with Burnell taking two scores of 30-27, and one 29-28. That’s the fight game, and Burnell extends his winning streak to seven, and his overall record to 16-3.
Before that, 23-year-old lightweight prospect Usman Nurmagomedov stopped Manny Muro with a well-placed curve knee to the body. Muro found himself in a rinse-and-repeat grind, trying his best to avoid the ground... and then BOOM! A knee from Usman was slamming into his liver, causing him to instantly drop down in agony. Nurmagomedov improves to 13-0 in his young career, and under the tutelage of former UFC lightweight champ Khabib tutelage, this young gun has an extremely bright future ahead of him.
Earlier in the night we got a controversial decision in the lightweight division when Islam Mamedov took a split over Brent Primus. The bulk of this fight took place on the ground, with Mamedov being the one on top and Primus on bottom. Although Islam was in the “dominant position,” he spent most of his time there either fighting off a submission attempt, wrapped in rubber guard, or quite frankly just laying on Brent. Two of the three judges awarded the top position over the submission attacks. Like it or not, Mamedov is unbeaten in 20-straight fights. How did you score this one?
Opening up the main card, Bellator mainstay Goiti Yamauchi handed Chris Gonzalez his first professional loss by way of first-round TKO. The now 30-fight veteran in Yamauchi pressed the action right away, making the now 6-1 Gonzalez have to quickly react to polished fundamentals. It was a laser-like cross that sat down Chris, and then some followup ground strikes sealed the deal. Yamauchi has now won four off his last five, three by way of finish.
Mads Burnell def. Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28): Featherweight
Sanchez didn’t waste any time in letting his combinations go. He unloaded his patented volume right away, giving Burnell plenty of things to think about as he pressed forward. Sanchez was also doing a great job of mixing in hooks to the body. Burnell responded by changing levels and hitting a couple of takedowns, racking up control time.
The second act saw Sanchez unload more volume to get things going, and then Burnell hitting a takedown to slow things down. Sanchez scrambled back up to his feet and went right back to scoring with a variety of techniques. Burnell just wasn’t matching the output of Sanchez, but he was able top snag another takedown and finish the round on top.
Burnell shot in for a takedown down early int he final round, and found himself with Sanchez’s back. Emmanuel looked up at the screen and was able to land a series of crafty elbows. He then worked back up to his feet, with Burnell still attached, and then hit a Granby roll to take top position. Burnell then hit a sweep and initiated a scramble, where Sanchez was fighting off the advances and landing the strikes. Mads was able to hang on until the bell, without giving Sanchez the space he needed to get up.
Usman Nurmagomedov def. Manny Muro by TKO at 3:30 of round 1: Lightweight
Muro tried to pressure his younger adversary out of the gate, but had to deal with a series of head kicks coming at him. Then, Nurmagomedov abruptly changed gears and hit a takedown to scramble. He went to the back and put Muro through a rinse and repeat grind until he finally planted him on the floor. Nurmagomedov took the back again, but Muro was able to fight his way back up to his feet. Then out of nowhere, Nurmagomedov blasted Muro with a gut-wrenching curved knee to the body. Muro instantly hit the deck, Nurmagomedov went bananas with ground strikes, and the referee came dividing in with the rescue. What a sick finish!
Islam Mamedov def. Brent Primus by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): Lightweight
Primus went after Mamedov right away with an assortment of strikes. Mamedov tried to stay defensive, but found himself on his back foot. That’s when Mamedov decided to clinch up. He got himself a takedown, and had to fight off an omoplata attempt before taking top position in a meaningful way. Primus worked his rubber guard, which was an effective way to stifle the offense of his adversary. Mamedov was on top, wasn’t being offensive at all.
The second act saw the fight quickly get to the inside. The fighters jockeyed for position against the cage, trying to win small wars to get the grappling advantage. Mamedov managed to hit a slick toss to take top position with about a half-a-round left on the clock. From his back, Primus attacked with a Kimura, which resulted in a prolonged and less than exciting stalemate.
Mamedov went right to the takedown in the third round. Again, Primus relied on his rubber guard to keep his opponent from dropping strikes. The crowd didn’t seem too happy with the lack of damage being dished out. Primus went back to that Kimura lock, but Islam defeated it and went back to laying on top of Brent.
Goiti Yamauchi def. Chris Gonzalez by TKO at 3:53 of round 1: 160-pounds
Yamauchi took the center of the cage early, kicking to the body as Gonzalez was looking to explode in with big punches. It was Yamauchi who was landing the cleaner strikes and pushing the action, making the less experienced fighter have to make quick decisions. That’s when it became clear that Yamauchi was clearly the more proficient striker. He then floored Gonzalez with a blistering cross, and followed up with fight-ending ground and pound.