Two weeks ago, Bellator Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) hosted their 207th and 208th pay-per-view events. Bellator, the second largest MMA organization after the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has been rising in popularity and raising the quality of their fights.
Bellator 207 was hosted at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Carrington Banks took on Mandel Nallo at 155 pounds to start the main card, fighting an even-matched first round and a slow starting second round that was ended by a knock-out right knee strike from Nallo.
In the second fight, Corey Browning took on Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Junior at 155 pounds. Baby Slice is the son of the late heavyweight MMA and boxing legend Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson Senior. Slice dominated the first half of the first round before Browning’s jiu jitsu took the fight to the ground. The fight ended two minutes and seven seconds into the second round when Browning finished with a series of punches on the ground.
Fight three was between Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin and Ion Pascu at 170 pounds. The first two rounds were slow and mostly uneventful, with Larkin showing a marginally better performance. The third round took place on the ground with back and forth grappling. Larkin was given the win at the end of three rounds, with the judges scoring it 29-28 in his favor.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson then took on Sergei Kharitonov at 263 pounds, ending with one second left in the first round via knockout by Kharitonov.
The main event was the quarter final matchup of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix between former NFL defensive tackle Matt Mitrione (255 pounds) and Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan “Darth” Bader (230 pounds). The fight went through all three rounds with absolutely no offense by Mitrione and a dominant performance on the ground by Bader. Bader was granted the victory by unanimous decision.
The very next day, Bellator 208 took over the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. The main card pinned Rockaway, New Jersey native Andy Main against Henry Corrales at 146 pounds. The first two rounds were an uneventful kickboxing match, but the few kicks from Corrales looked more painful than anything the lanky Main delivered. The fight ended two minutes into the third round when a left hand from Corrales stunned Main and took him down.
Fight two put two middleweight Russians together: Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko and Anatoly Tokov. Shlemenko is notable for his spinning backfist hit, but he was unable to land any of them in the fight, giving Tokov and his clean jabs a victory via unanimous decision after three rounds.
Fight three ended in one minute and ten seconds when Cheick Kongo (239 pounds) took Tim Johnson (265 pounds) to the ground and won via knockout.
The next fight, the co-main event, was a lightweight bout between “Smooth” Benson Henderson and Saad “The Assassin” Awad. With the brief exception of Awad exploding into the third round, Henderson was able to dominate most of the fight on the ground, granting him a victory via decision.
Finally, “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (236 pounds) took on Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen (227 pounds) for the right to fight Ryan Bader in the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix. Apart from some half-decent wrestling by Sonnen, Fedor showed why he is considered one of the best martial artists to ever come out of Russia, ending the fight in four minutes and 45 seconds via knockout.
With the chaos of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor at UFC 229 one week prior (Khabib beat Conor and a brawl ensued afterward), Bellator provided ten old-fashioned, clean, and respectable mixed martial arts main events on top of sixteen undercard fights for two back-to-back days.