Bellator 192: “Rampage vs. Sonnen" took place last night (Sat., Jan. 20, 2018) at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., featuring the first leg of the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix with two fighters better known in smaller weight classes — two-time No. 1 contender at Middleweight, Chael Sonnen, (30-15-1) and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12).
Sonnen may have surprised Jackson a bit in the opening round with the accuracy of his overhand left and the fact he tried a flying knee. In the takedown department it was one apiece, although Jackson’s looked more impressive for the fact that he shrugged it off and begged Sonnen to get back up and trade hands with him.
Even though Jackson said he didn’t want to fight somebody who would wrestle hump him to death, that’s exactly what Sonnen did in Round 2, keeping Jackson on his back almost the entire time and almost securing a kimura in the process.
Jackson’s best round was the third, not only because Sonnen had banked a 2-0 lead and probably knew he could cruise (always a dangerous decision) but also because he did a better job of stuffing the takedowns until the 3:58 mark. Still, Jackson was chasing a home run shot in the last 10 seconds trying to change his fortunes, undoubtedly knowing the scorecards were against him.
The judges returned a verdict of 29-28 X3 all for Sonnen. He spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after advancing to the next round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix.
“God made six billion men and none of them are as tough as Chael Sonnen. Frank Mir and Fedor Emelianenko, neither of you is the best, but one of you is NEXT. I have no preference, I have the biggest arms, I have the greatest charm, and I do all the harm. One on one, two on one or five on one I’ll make them ALL, need NINE ONE ONE.”
UFC fighter turned Bellator Welterweight star Rory MacDonald (19-4) came in looking to win the title against two-time Bellator champion “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (29-6).
MacDonald came out aggressively to start the first round and although it took him a couple of minutes he eventually got a waist lock that turned into a takedown. Lima closed guard to prevent much damage and it was stood up with 12 seconds left but it was still 10-9 for the challenger.
Lima did a better job of establishing his presence in Round 2, forcing MacDonald to attempt several takedowns and get none of them, blasting him in the face multiple times on the first one he went for. It wound up being a very close round that would be hard for the judges to score.
Lima turned the tables in the third with leg kicks that were so nasty that MacDonald’s left leg crumpled in the last minute, putting Lima on top for the ground-and-pound. It was the first clear and definitive round for the champion. He appeared to narrowly win a close fourth round as well.
The fifth was MacDonald’s most dominant round, scoring the takedown very quickly and busting Lima’s forehead open halfway through the frame with a big right elbow. MacDonald’s hips swayed any which way Lima moved underneath him, keeping him on top doing damage throughout.
The judges ultimately rendered a decision of 48-47, 49-45 and 49-46 all for THE NEW Bellator champion Rory MacDonald.
MacDonald spoke to John McCarthy afterward.
“He’s the best fighter I ever fought, easy. I came in the best I’ve ever felt and this guy gave me challenges everywhere. It was an honor to compete with him. I definitely feel like the best in the world after fighting that guy. I think I have a person growing inside me down there (in my leg). I can’t really walk on it but whatever I got through it.”
Former Lightweight champion “Iron” Michael Chandler (16-4) came hoping to earn a rematch with Brent Primus by taking out the streaking Goiti Yamauchi (22-3), while Yamauchi looked to take his fourth first-round submission in a row.
Chandler had one lapse in all 15 minutes of the fight, and that was when he took a question mark kick to the chin in the first minute of Round 2 that left him dazed. Once he got the takedown though he dominated the next three minutes and change with ground-and-pound. He did the exact same thing in the third and made a mess of Yamauchi’s forehead and face, going full gorilla style with the hammer fists in the final ten seconds to leave no doubt. The judges agreed and awarded him the unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26 and 30-25).
Chandler spoke to John McCarthy afterward:
“I didn’t want to prove anybody wrong, but I proved them wrong. Hat’s off to Yamauchi, probably the toughest guy I’ve ever fought, we’ll probably meet again. I want to keep coming in here and doing phenomenal things. I’m a model employee, I’m a great employee, I do what I’m told. Thank you guys for all coming out.”
Also on the main card was a bout pairing off two Featherweight contenders as Georgi Karakhanyan (28-7-1) faced Henry Corrales (14-3).
The first round saw Corrales control the cage and push the pace as Karakhanyan repeatedly shot for takedowns and saw them stuffed. It wasn’t entirely successful for Corrales though as he kept trying to land a home run with his right hand and missing the mark.
A close first round gave way to a more dominant second as Corrales continued to make Karakhanyan backpedal to avoid the power and shoot for takedowns hoping to change his fortunes. That backfired when Corrales spun him into the fence and he tried to pull guard for a guillotine. Corrales popped his head free and dominated on top until the last minute.
The final frame was a repeat of the first complete with the bonus of Karakhanyan getting one of Corrales’ legs high in the air and still not being able to knock him off balance. When he finally got Corrales to his knees with 20 seconds left it was too late even if he had successfully completed taking the back — and he didn’t. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 X2 all for Corrales, who spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward.
“I feel happy that I won. I’m not too impressed with my own performance. I moved to the MMA Lab and I’m 3-0 since I went there. I show up to class and these guys rag doll me all over the mat. I promised these guys after I did that I wasn’t going to let anybody fuck with me.”
Bellator couldn’t resist putting their big prospect in another big fight as Aaron Pico (1-1) would have to prove himself yet again facing 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu’s Shane Kruchten (12-3).
Pico ran to the cage to start the fight and even that may have been longer than the fight itself as he crumbled Kruchten with two left hooks to the body in just 37 seconds. John McCarthy stepped into the cage after the break to speak to the now 2-1 prospect.
“First of all I want to thank all of the fans, I’ve got a lot of family here. Antonio McKee, the guys at the Body Shop, that’s my home. Freddie Roach, he’s the best. Everything’s flowing well, I’ve just got to relax, and do what I do. I’m glad I got the W now I get to go home, ride my horse tomorrow, and have a good time. I’m not the one to talk shit, I’m here to show up, I fight anybody in front of me, that’s what I do. I’m Aaron Pico, I’m a fighter, I do my talking with my fists.”
For complete Bellator 192 results and coverage click here.