Bellator 206: “Mousasi vs. MacDonald” took place last night (Sat., Sept. 29, 2018) at SAP Center in San Jose, California. Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) put his title on the line as Rory MacDonald (20-4) came up from Welterweight to Middleweight to seek a second belt to put around his waist.
The size difference was as apparent in Round 1 as was Mousasi’s power, as he repeatedly snapped MacDonald’s head back with his jab, and when MacDonald could land it didn’t seem to cause any damage in return. He forced MacDonald to fight off his back foot for nearly the entire round.
Things went from bad to worse for MacDonald in round two. He dove for a leg looking for a submission and Mousasi was not snake bit. In fact the opposite happened - he immediately busted MacDonald wide open, worked his way to the full mount near the three minute mark, then poured on the fists and elbows until Herb Dean stopped it at 3:23 by TKO.
Mousasi spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after his impressive Middleweight title defense.
“Much respect to Rory. I like him a lot. Phenomenal fighter, phenomenal guy. Thanks for taking the fight and making this a super-fight for Bellator. I knew I had better stand up and the reach advantage, I felt like I had the speed advantage, the plan was to make him panic and go for the takedown. I had hurt him a little bit already and it went perfect. It was just the fight I needed. Next is Lovato and then Machida if he wins. We need a lot of drug testing for Machida. I think (Lovato) deserves it. I want to fight him. April I will be ready for (Machida) if he wins but I’m not gonna wait six months for Machida.”
In the co-main event two legendary warriors meet for the fourth time as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-13) and Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1-1) met in a clash of Heavyweight titans.
DAZN made sure to bring MMA fans the pre-fight breakdown of their respective stats.
As Mauro Ranallo is fond of saying, “MOMMA MIA.” This fight was contested entirely on the feet, with Jackson working the left jab to set up the right hook, and Silva clinching when necessary and firing counter strikes when available. Silva got tired of the cautious forward movement of Jackson early and dared him to go for broke. When Jackson rocked him late in round one and Silva started backpedaling, Jackson returned the favor and goaded his foe.
Mike Beltran kept law and order between rounds until they could come out and restart the fireworks. Jackson’s timing was largely on point as he read Silva’s strikes and either ducked the windmilling blows or sidestepped the kicks. He’d rock Silva and Silva would hang on trying to clear his head, but four minutes in Jackson landed an emphatic right that Silva’s chin could no longer withstand, pouring it on until Beltran awarded a TKO at 4:32.
“Big” John McCarthy stepped in to talk to the victorious “Rampage” Jackson afterward.
“I watched Wanderlei fight before I was even a fighter. I saw Wanderlei destroy a guy with knees. I was instantly a fan. Much respect to Wanderlei. We’re never going to get another Wanderlei so let’s pay respect to him. He rocked me. My chin was tested tonight. When he rocked me this time I had a flashback to when he rocked me in Japan. I knew it was coming to an end. I’ve been training boxing for a long time in Manchester. I’ve been training muay thai with Tiki, sneaky, and Wanderlei is very crafty. I got great great sparring partners. This camp was like the best camp I ever had.”
Kicking off the Welterweight Grand Prix in Bellator was an opening round bout between two former champions — Douglas Lima (29-7) and Andrey Koreshkov (21-2).
The first round was almost a stalemate. The crowd grew frustrated with referee Josh Rosenthal’s lack of separation as Koreshkov tried and failed to get multiple takedowns, lifting Lima high in the air a couple of times, but Lima always landed on his feet.
The second round was dominantly for Lima. He landed multiple leg kicks to Koreshkov and John McCarthy raved on commentary about the power and technique. Koreshkov’s only response was to stall against the fence. He didn’t seem to land any effective strikes the entire five minutes. The third round was essentially “rinse lather repeat” of the second.
After a fourth round that looked a lot like the previous two until the clapper, Lima landed a hard right hand that momentarily made Koreshkov wobble on his feet, and he charged forward to pour it on against the fence until the bell. Lima had a big lead going into Round 5.
The exclamation point on the bout for Douglas Lima was a sprawl to block a takedown that gave him a dominant position on the ground, throwing multiple lefts and rights from Koreshkov’s back, then taking the back with both hooks in for a tight rear-naked choke. Koreshkov had never been submitted before in his career, and perhaps was unwilling to let this be the first time he tapped, so he simply went out cold and Rosenthal broke the hold.
The official time of the technical submission was 3:04. Lima spoke to McCarthy afterward.
“Just before anything I want to thank God for this victory, for bringing me here healthy. Koreshkov is a tough guy, I’m sorry if it wasn’t exciting, but you can’t blink against a guy like that. Man we got it done. I was breaking him, he was slowing down a little bit, and I was able to capitalize. Man you know that’s the type of guy he is. He’d rather go to sleep than tap. It was an honor for me to compete against him one more time.”
Featherweight young gun Aaron Pico (3-1) was put to work again versus the much more experienced Leandro Higo (18-4).
Aaron Pico once again showed his ability to outwork and out-strike vastly more experienced opponents. The scary thing is that Higo was clearly out on his feet after being rocked a second time halfway through the round, but referee Mark Smith didn’t step in until Higo stumbled and fell trying a back fist. Pico spoke to John McCarthy afterward.
“Well I’ve been saying before he never fought a guy on my level, who hits as hard as me, who pushes the pace like me. It feels good to go out there and do it to a tough guy like Leandro Higo. Brazilians come to fight. I respect that. I just had to regain focus, use my jab, because I knew he would start running. You gotta just roll with the punches like they say. My progression is going fantastic, working with the best coaches in the world. Three or four years from now nobody on the planet will touch me in this cage.”
Also on the main card was a Strawweight bout between Keri Taylor-Melendez (2-0) and the debuting Dakota Zimmerman.
Melendez was winning most of the first round after a takedown and a huge slam, but Zimmerman capitalized on a momentary positional mistake and trapped an arm, then wrapped her legs around Melendez’ head and made her stay on defense until the bell, giving Zimmerman a potential scorecard lead early in the fight.
Zimmerman tried multiple times to get a takedown in Round 2 to no avail, pulled guard a couple of times, and each time Melendez calmly walked her across the cage. The second time Melendez shook her off and landed almost a dozen unanswered knee strikes to the body to tie things up going into the third frame.
There was an urgency to Zimmerman’s forward aggression to open the last round as though she knew it was too close to call, but the one takedown she landed was almost instantly neutralized as Melendez pushed off the fence with her feet to get a sweep. She landed a couple of upkicks when Melendez escaped but not directly enough to rock her, and she pulled guard late and let Melendez finish the fight on top.
Two of the three judges scored it 29-28 for Melendez to earn the split decision, while one judge gave a 29-28 to Zimmerman. No post-fight interview followed.
Rounding out DAZN action was a Featherweight bout between Gaston Bolanos (3-1) and Ysidro Gutierrez (4-2).
Bolanos landed head kicks several times throughout the first round but missed with his signature spinning elbow. Due to his high rate of activity and a few takedowns he clearly took the the opening frame 10-9.
The second round saw the “Dream Killer” blow Gutierrez out of the water by landing a powerful left hand behind the ear and multiple right hands from behind on the ground, forcing referee Mike Beltran to save a defenseless man at 1:37.
Bolanos spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward about his impressive knockout win.
“First of all thank you mi gente. All my people thank you so much. I’ve been dreaming about this interview my whole life. Yes sir, Darren and I worked a lot, (he said) don’t just worry about getting back up, look for your shots and they’ll be there and that’s what we did tonight.”
He also had more to say backstage after the in cage interview.
For complete Bellator 206 results and coverage click here.