On Friday night, Bellator MMA took over the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas with Bellator 149, a strange, but undoubtedly alluring night of fighting.
The card’s headlining honors went to Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, a pair of MMA pioneers who first met more than 22 years ago at UFC 1. The card’s co-headlining spot, meanwhile, was held by street fighting imports Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000, who met in a grudge match that the event’s promos assured was years in the making. Needless to say, while Bellator 149 did include names like Emanuel Newton and Linton Vassell, it was far from a showcase of the organization’s premiere talent. And yet the presence of names like Shamrock, Gracie and Kimbo on the bill will probably render the event a viewership success all the same.
Here’s a recap of the event’s circus-like main card, in all its bizarre glory.
Gracie Gets Weird Win Over Shamrock
In the main event of the evening, MMA pioneers Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie met for a third time—22 years after their initial, UFC 1 encounter. The two aging legends, who walked onto the canvas with a combined age of 101 years, are the third and fourth UFC Hall-of-Famers to compete in the Bellator cage (behind Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar). Unfortunately, this clash of legends was a bit of a disaster.
The action began with a few tepid exchanges, as Shamrock pressed forward and Gracie looked to keep his opponent at bay with kicks. Then came the tie-up. After an apparent knee to the groin, Shamrock ducked down in pain, only to be clocked by an additional knee to the temple. From there, Gracie, whose hands apparently weren’t taped, unleashed a series of hammer-fists to secure the first strike-induced win of his illustrious career.
In the moments after the stoppage, an infuriated Shamrock stormed around the ring, unleashing a profanity-laced protest of the stoppage. Unfortunately for him, however, there’s likely no reversing the fight’s outcome. He falls to 0-2 in Bellator with and an overall record of 28-17-2, while Gracie scores his first win since defeating Kazushi Sakuraba in 2007, and moves to 15-2 overall.
Kimbo Scores Exhaustion-Induced TKO over Dada 5000
The co-main event of the evening paired former YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice with Dada 5000, who was the focal point of the 2015 documentary Dawg Fight. In Houston, the two heavyweight street fighters lumbered onto the canvas to settle a beef that has apparently been slow-cooking for years. Unfortunately, all the beef in the world couldn’t make the fight a good one.
After just a few exchanges, the two big men were visibly exhausted. For two and a half rounds thereafter, they stumbled into each other, swatting one another with slow-motion punches, and falling in and out of dominant positions on the mat. Finally, to the relief of those watching live in Texas and on screens the world over, a Kimbo uppercut sent a deflated Dada 5000 tumbling to the canvas in an exhausted but conscious heap.
With the strange TKO win, Kimbo moves to 2-0 in the Bellator cage, and keeps his MMA career on life support with a 6-2 overall record. Dada 5000, meanwhile, loses for the first time. He’s now 2-1 overall, and will be a hard sell in any subsequent MMA bouts.
Campos Smashes Guillard in the Second
The middle bout of the main card saw long-time UFC staple Melvin Guillard attempt to rebound from a duo of losses in the World Series of Fighting and Bellator cages. His opportunity to do so came against Derek Campos, who looked to regain his footing after a pair of stoppage losses to Michael Chandler and Brandon Girtz. The fight was sweetened by the guest commentary of boxing legend Mike Tyson.
There is little doubt that even in 2016, after 14 years of fighting, Guillard still packs one hell of a wallop. Unfortunately, however, he can no longer take it like he can dish it out. The veteran found himself on spaghetti legs in the fight’s opening sequence, only to be polished off in the opening moments of the second round.
With the knockout win, which is arguably the biggest of his career, Campos becomes just the second person to stop Guillard on strikes. He’s now 16-6 overall, and 5-3 in Bellator. Guillard, meanwhile, falls onto the first three-fight skid of his long career. The Ultimate Fighter season 2 competitor is now 32-16-2 overall, and is clearly on the way out.
Vassell Trumps Newton in Foul-Filled Fight
The second bout of Bellator 149’s main card was arguably the most compelling feature of the entire event, as former light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton mixed it up with England’s Linton Vassell in a rematch of a 2014 classic. Unfortunately, the pair’s second bout didn’t quite live up to their first.
Rounds one and three of this one clearly belonged to Vassell, who was the far more effective man on the mat. While Newton had some success in the middle round, that success was gutted by a point deduction following three blows below the belt, which spelled out a lopsided, if unexciting, decision triumph for Vassell.
With the unanimous win, the 32-year-old British contender rebounds from a September loss to Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, and moves to 16-5 overall. Newton, meanwhile, finds himself on a tough, three-fight skid, having come up short to Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, and now Vassell. The former champ is now 8-4 in the Bellator cage, and 25-10-1 overall.
Sanchez Edges Pineda in Exciting Scrap
Bellator 149’s main card began with a 150-pound catchweight bout. One half of the fight was Emmanuel Sanchez, who walked onto the canvas with split decision triumphs over Henry Corrales and Justin Lawrence in the rear-view. The other half was 7-time UFC veteran Daniel Pineda, who entered the bout on the heels of three submission wins in the LFC cage. It was an excellent scrap, highlighted by a range of submission attempts, plenty of exciting striking exchanges, and a ceaseless procession of breakneck scrambles.
In the opening frame, Pineda seemed poised to overwhelm his young opponent with an aggressive ground attack. As the fight wore on, however, Sanchez’s accurate striking and success in the scrambles stole him the momentum, culminating in a split decision triumph—his third consecutive victory of this kind.
With the win, the 25-year-old moves to 5-1 in Bellator, having lost only to former champion Pat Curran. He’s now 13-2 overall. Pineda, meanwhile, comes up short in his Bellator debut, and loses for the first time since March of 2014. He’s now 20-12 overall.
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