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Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix: Updated bracket, second round recap

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The second round of Bellator MMA’s Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament is now in the books with the conclusion of Bellator 207 “Mitrione vs. Bader” and Bellator 208 “Fedor vs. Sonnen” at Mohegan Sun Arena and Nassau Coliseum respectively. As you can see from the graphic above all of the brackets have now been updated; however, let’s take a quick look back at how we got there through each of the bouts to date.

Bellator kicked off the tournament at Bellator 192 in Inglewood, California with an opening round bout between Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Sonnen used his wrestling technique to negate Jackson’s power, allowing “The American Gangster” to advance with a dominant if occasionally unexciting victory.

Sonnen’s opponent for round two would be determined at Bellator 198 from Allstate Arena in Illinois. It only took 48 seconds to learn that PRIDE legend Fedor Emelianenko would be moving on as he used power striking to finish off a diminished Frank Mir. This was the desired result as Sonnen wanted Fedor before the tournament even began.

On the other side of the tournament Matt Mitrione defeated Roy Nelson at Bellator 194 in a long anticipated rematch given their previous UFC history. Even though Mitrione seemed to dominate in every aspect of the fight, giving “Big Country” no chance to land his trademark heavy hands, Mitrione was nevertheless awarded a puzzling majority decision.

Ryan Bader was looking for Heavyweight competition but didn’t really get it thanks to a fight that only lasted 15 seconds with Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal on May 12, 2018 at Bellator 199. Of course that simply set the stage for the second round of the tournament, where Bader would get a much bigger test from his friend Matt Mitrione.

First round summary: Sonnen defeats Jackson, Emelianenko defeats Mir, Sonnen meets Emelianenko in round two. Mitrione defeats Nelson, Bader defeats Lawal, Mitrione meets Bader in round two.

At Bellator 207 “Mitrione vs. Bader” in Uncasville (recap here) the main event moved us one step closer to the tournament finals on January 26th. Although Matt Mitrione had a noticeable size and presumably power advantage over Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, none of that matters if you’re on your back for 4:50+ of each five minute round. In fact Bader so thoroughly dominated Mitrione with takedowns to ground and pound that one judge gave him all three rounds 10-8, resulting in a lopsided 30-35, 30-24, 30-25 decision.

Bader would have to face the winner of Bellator 208 “Fedor vs. Sonnen” in Uniondale the next night. Emelianenko made Sonnen taste his power early and often, and although Sonnen chained together a few takedowns, he was unable to take the jackhammer left hands by Emelianenko late in the round. This resulted in a TKO win at 4:46.

Second round summary: Bader defeats Mitrione by unanimous decision, Emelianenko finishes Sonnen in the first round, so it’s “Fedor vs. Bader” next year on Jan. 26, 2019.

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