Bellator 237 “Fedor vs. Rampage” took place Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, airing Dec. 28 in the U.S. Two legends with Pride Fighting credentials met in a Heavyweight tilt as Fedor Emelianenko (38-6, 1 NC) faced Quinton Jackson (38-13). Jackson came in 265 and looked every bit of it, moving in slow motion, giving Emelianenko plenty of opportunities to rush him and land big shots. A clean right hand at 2:44 of the first round knocked “Rampage” out and ended the night. Here’s some of how it looked.
Emelianenko announced his retirement in the post-fight chat with John McCarthy.
“I’m very happy that one more time I was here to entertain you guys and make you happy. That’s where I became a real fighter, here in Japan, that’s where I got your love, and I’m very happy I brought you fun again. Regretfully perhaps my career stops here. Thank you for supporting me over the years. That’s the end of my tour. Thank you very much.”
A 160 lb. catchweight match saw former champ Michael Chandler (19-5) take on rising star Sidney Outlaw (14-3), winner of nine straight fights.
Outlaw took the fight as a late replacement for Benson Henderson and although he was game for the short notice fight, Chandler lit him up with right hands to the body and starched him with a knockout right to the head at 2:59 of Round 1.
The interview with John McCarthy came next.
“This was just setting things up for the second half of the fight. You’ve got to start taking the wind out of his sails pretty quickly. I have to thank him though. If it wasn’t for Sidney stepping up two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have had the chance to live a dream fighting here. Arigato. The older I get the longer I’ve been here, I’m excited to keep fighting against myself, trying to be the best Michael Chandler. I’m still hungry for belts, world titles, three isn’t enough. My wife deserves it, my kid deserves it, so I’m excited for the future.”
Lorenz Larkin (21-7) also put a win streak up against a tough opponent, betting his three wins at Welterweight against Keita Nakamura (35-10-2), an experienced foe who hadn’t won two bouts in a row in years. Unfortunately Larkin missed weight for this fight, but a bad cut didn’t affect his power at all, as he repeatedly scored with uppercuts and body kicks throughout a dominant first round.
The second round was very similar to the first in terms of Larkin throwing power strikes and Nakamura eating them. Occasionally Nakamura would bull rush Larkin hoping to keep the fight in a phone booth, something Bellator’s social media presence took note of.
Larkin would land hard strikes that would make Nakamura reconsider and back off, and he continued to find a home for kicks, uppercuts, and flying knees almost at will.
Nakamura was too tough to be finished in the third and final round, but he paid a heavy price for it in terms of facial damage. Larkin’s knees and straight right hands opened up multiple cuts and swelled the left eye almost completely shut, which only made it harder for Nakamura to see the damage coming. He lost a unanimous decision of 30-27, 30-26 X2 as a result. Larkin spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the scores were announced.
“He’s one of the toughest guys that I’ve fought. I was hitting him with everything and he took it and gave it back. This is a dream come true. I grew up watching Pride, K-1, Dream. Just for me to be here and fight in front of all the fans is a dream come true. I don’t think I could beat this moment.”
Self-proclaimed “Arya Stark” MMA fighter Ilara Joanne (9-4) wants a title fight with Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, but the Flyweight would have to get past Kana Watanabe (8-0-1) first. Joanne was having success with her hands and feet, and even got close to a triangle when Watanabe took her down, but Watanabe got side control to fire unanswered lefts to the head and took the back late to end round one.
Joanne blocked a judo throw and landed on top in Round 2, but once Watanabe pushed her into guard Joanne laced herself around her foes and did almost nothing whatsoever. Watanabe swept to the top and was doing ground-and-pound damage to close the round.
In the third round Joanne finally ran out of counters and stalls as Watanabe took her down early, slowly and methodically doing damage on top, progressing her way toward the back as the clock ticked away, taking it late and doing enough punishment for a TKO at 4:39. She spoke to John McCarthy via translator next.
“I am so very happy that I was able to bring this victory to all the people who are representing Rizin. I feel like all the other fighters are with me. During the three rounds Joanne was very strong but it was able to bring out the best in me.”
Widely popular in Japan, “Detroit Superstar” Daron Cruickshank (22-12) wound up facing the superior submissions skills of Goiti Yamauchi (24-4) at Lightweight. Cruickshank played up to his reputation in Rizin by coming out to a familiar song.
Unfortunately popularity couldn’t help him against an opponent who has a formidable ground game and came in overweight for the fight. Once Yamauchi took the back Cruickshank was already in trouble, and when he hit the ground with Cruickshank and got his second hook in, the rear naked choke was as inevitable as was Cruickshank tapping out.
The official time was 3:11 and the winner spoke to “Big” John McCarthy.
“You know this is my game. I think I’m the best in the world when we talk about the grappling game. This is the result of hard work and dedication. I just do it every day since I was a little kid. It’s all about practice. There’s no secret to practice.”
Rounding out the card was a showcase bout for Michael “Venom” Page (16-1) at a catch weight of 173 lbs. against former UFC fighter Shinsho Anzai (11-3).
Page didn’t appear to be taking Anzai seriously, but that’s typical for Page in any fight.
He wasn’t wrong though as the only offense Anzai had was to charge at Page windmilling his hands hoping to land. Page would hit him with jumping knees going backward, would hit him with right hands from distance, and would even backflip his way into kicks. He opened up a cut on Anzai’s face and easily did enough damage to earn a 10-8 round.
It didn’t take long for Page to finish the job when round two started — 23 seconds to be precise. A flying knee started the damage, and a powerful right hand that disconnected Anzai’s brain from his body finished it. He spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward.
“Japan!!!!!!! Thank you so much for having me here. This is the best arena I’ve ever been in front of. You guys are amazing — thank you. I fight with one of the best teams in the world, London Shootfighters. I knew he was going to try to take me down, I defended it well, that’s why I was so confident going forward. If you guys will have me back I’m coming right back to Japan. Thank you!!”
For complete Bellator 237 results and coverage click here.