Bellator 160: "Henderson vs Pitbull" came to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., last night (Fri., Aug. 26, 2016) live on Spike TV. The card was headlined by two key fights at Lightweight and Featherweight.
The main event saw "Smooth" Benson Henderson try to rebound from a loss in his Bellator debut by moving back down to 155 pounds where he won WEC and UFC gold. Patricio Freire, better known as "Pitbull," made a move up to 155 to challenge Henderson for No. 1 contender status in the Lightweight division.
In one of the stranger endings to a main event fight you'll ever see, Freire turned and walked away midway through the second round, forcing John McCarthy to declare an injury TKO at 2:26.
Jimmy Smith told Henderson afterward he'd get to face Michael Chandler at Bellator 163 on Nov. 19 in San Jose, California:
"Our deepest fear is not that we're inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we're powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually -- who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so other people around don't feel insecure. We are all meant to shine."
The crowd booed as Henderson continued to preach the gospel but Smith finally got Henderson to talk about the finish:
"I knew for sure when I checked two of his kicks. If you watch the replay when I checked he backed away right away immediately. After the Anderson Silva whole thing that was kind of popular, everyone was working on checking kicks, so I definitely worked on checking kicks. I didn't think I'd ever end a fight by checking a kick but I guess I'll take a W any way I can get it."
Chandler stepped into the cage to confront his new No. 1 contender:
"I'm excited man. He's a tough dude. I've been looking forward to fighting him for a really long time. People have been talking about this match up for a long time so let's do it. Let's put a show for the Bellator fans. Appreciate you guys!"
Georgi Karakhanyan looked to best Bubba Jenkins for a second time, this time at a 149-pound catchweight. The latter was on a three fight winning streak coming into Bellator 160, but Karakhanyan broke it in just 53 seconds by catching a kick then throwing a devastating right hand for the knockout.
An emotional Karakhanyan spoke to Jimmy Smith after the fight:
"Man I went through a lot man. Being on a losing streak - I don't like it. Everyone that helped me out, I'm a fighter man I like winning, and f--k it feels good. As a real fighter I want to get there and bang with everyone but if I take my time I have heavy hands and I just proved it today. I love my two daughters -- this is for them."
To fill time, Sean Grande spoke to Michael "Venom" Page about his controversial post-fight celebration after beating Evangelista Santos back at Bellator 158:
"It was hard to be happy because I was still worried about the injury itself, but once I found out everything was okay (for Santos) we just went crazy. I was contacted by so many people it was unbelievable."
And what's next for Mr. Page? "Venom" gave Grande the answer:
"I've got Fernando Gonzalez, he's a tough guy, but I do I do every time -- put people to sleep."
Grande confirms it will also take place at Bellator 163 on Nov. 19. Gonzalez came out to answer the challenge:
"He signed it, let's show up and give them a show. He's a tough opponent but I have the remedy to put him away."
Page tried to give Gonzalez a hockey helmet to protect himself from what may be another flying knee finish by "MVP." Gonzalez didn't accept it.
Bellator also brought out Rory MacDonald in a suit and tie to introduce himself to the crowd:
Jimmy Smith met him at cageside to find out his intentions:
"There's many reasons. Straight up though, Bellator gave me an offer that nobody in the world can match. They're giving me an opportunity nobody else can do for me. They believe in me and I'm gonna put on a show for you guys. I'm taking over. I'm the king of this division at 170, I'm going after Koreshkov and his belt, and after that I've got my eyes on 185 too."
Lightweight hopefuls wanting to move up closer to getting a crack at Chandler (or perhaps Freire) went toe-to-toe as bionic man Saad Awad put his left hand and its metal plate up against "Barbaric" Derek Anderson.
Both men seemed determined to empty out their gas tanks in the first five minutes, although Awad arguably got the better of it with power shots that hurt Anderson and left a mouse under his right eye. Anderson came back strong in the second round as Awad started to slow down, and in the third round his reach and leg kicks took over.
Despite a super close fight in the cage, all three judges saw it for Anderson on paper to the tune of a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Jimmy Smith spoke to Anderson about his performance afterward:
"I was trying to go out here and put on the performance of the night. I think we did pretty damn good. I don't think I performed quite as well as I wanted to, but I still think that'll put me up where I need to be. I want to go for that title shot, I want it as soon as possible, I don't care who's next in line. If I gotta wait my turn I gotta wait my turn but I'm here to fight, I need to make some money, let's do it."
Undefeated Featherweight A.J. McKee faced the next man who wanted to hand the Body Shop prospect his first loss as a pro -- late replacement Cody Walker.
Walker did at least one thing none of McKee's previous opponents have done -- take him to the second round. Nevertheless McKee was dominating exchanges and hitting takedowns at will, turning his first one of Round 2 into a modified guillotine choke at 32 seconds.
McKee spoke to Jimmy Smith about his Bellator aspirations afterward:
"First off I gotta give all the glory to the man upstairs. I want to thank all the fans for coming out here tonight. Coker signed me to do two things -- kick ass and take names. This little Pitbull beef everybody's talking about, it's not really a beef, he's taking it personal. Straus is the man I want. He's got the belt, so that's what I want. Don't take it personal Pitbull. You're getting ahead of yourself. I got a leash and a kennel waiting for you."
The televised bouts were paired with exciting "Prelims" action that aired exclusively on Spike.com.
For complete Bellator 160 results and coverage click here.