Bellator 209: “Pitbull vs. Sanchez” aired last night (Fri., Nov. 16, 2018) after taking place at Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Featherweight title was on the line as Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (27-4) took on “El Matador” Emmanuel Sanchez (17-3).
You can score the first round for Sanchez if you score it for the ONE punch he landed that momentarily stunned Freire. Otherwise “Pitbull” was the dominant fighter in terms of both volume and aggression, striking effectively throughout the first five minutes of the fight.
Things did not go better for Sanchez in the second round — in fact they went substantially worse. Freire opened up a huge gash under Sanchez’ right eye and battered his face black and blue with his combos, then stunned him with a hard shot right after a restart for an accidental groin kick — the second “El Matador” had landed in the bout. Freire took him down twice to ice what was already a lopsided round.
Other than losing his mouthpiece in the third it was more of the same for Freire in terms of landing heavy damaging blows throughout Round 3 and 4. A hard shot knocked Sanchez loopy in the fifth and iced the bout. The judges returned a verdict of 48-46, 48-47 and 48-47 all for Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
“Big” John McCarthy hit the cage and did a very quick post fight interview.
“Fighting Sanchez was a true honor. He made it difficult for me but I proved I’m the best in the division.”
In addition a Welterweight rematch saw Haim Gozali (8-5) look for revenge in his home state after a previous defeat against Ryan Couture (11-6).
Gozali lived up to his promise to pressure Couture early in the fight, but Couture was able to answer by repeatedly sweeping Gozali to the ground and getting the better of the clinches that were either started by him or his opponent. At the end of R1 he threw Gozali to the ground and repeatedly kicked him in the legs rather than jumping into his guard.
Second verse, same as the first. Gozali may have hoped to land a walk off home run but he never found the opportunity to put it on Couture’s chin. Couture opened up a cut over Gozali’s right brow with his elbows and clinch work, and took him down with 13 seconds left to ice a favorable second round.
Even though “The Israeli Bat Man” believed he couldn’t be beaten on home soil, he had no answers in the first two rounds and even fewer in the third and final round. He had one good exchange with Couture but the son of “The Natural” punctuated it with a big left.
Referee Leon Roberts showed no inclination to stand them up when Couture took Gozali down, allowing Couture to work a continual ground and pound for virtually the duration. The judges returned a verdict of 29-27, 30-27 and 30-26 all for Ryan Couture. A post-fight interview with “Big” John McCarthy followed.
“It’s been an incredible week. It’s been an honor to face Gozali on his home turf. He’s a true gentleman and a tough son of a bitch. I had to work on my discipline for this match. He’s improved his punching power for sure, he got my attention a few times, but I’m happy with the win and the work we put in.”
Former Light Heavyweight champion Phil Davis (19-4, 1 NC) looked to inch one step closer to a return bout with Ryan Bader, but knockout artist Vadim Nemkov (9-2) stood in his way.
Nemkov was most effective with his leg kicks throughout the first round, but had one chance at a finishing sequence when he tripped Davis on a leg kick of his own. He could not cinch up the anaconda attempt and Davis popped right back up. Davis defended all other takedowns and landed the harder shots, but Nemkov arguably edged him out on volume.
The second round was decidedly in Nemkov’s favor as Davis chased the overhand right but could not seem to land it, and to add insult to injury Nemkov slipped behind him on a takedown attempt late in the round and he was the one to hit a pair of takedowns.
Davis responded in Round 3 with two takedowns that each lead to kimura attempts, including one that Nemkov had to defend right up to the final bell. Since neither man got the finish it was up to the judges to render a decision. They returned a verdict of 29-28 Davis... and 29-28 X2 for Nemkov by split decision. No post-fight interview followed.
Completing the televised action was a Heavyweight tilt of Adam Keresh (1-0) vs. Kirill Sidelnikov (11-5). Sidelnikov looked to have an advantage early with a head kick and a sambo throw, but Keresh weathered the storm and got back to his feet. Now it was his turn to land a left head kick, and Sidelnikov could not recover and ate a right hook for the finish against the fence at 1:12 by knockout.
Keresh spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward.
“Thank you John. I feel amazing. I just want to thank all the fans who came here today. It’s all about you. Thank you. I’m so excited. This is all about the sport. You combat and you win. This is the sport.”
For complete Bellator 209 results and coverage click here.