For all intents and purposes Bellator 211: “Sakara vs. Kauppinen” was built around one man only — “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (20-12, 2 NC). The former UFC-turned Bellator MMA star was very comfortable in his home country of Italy, having gone 3-1 there in four fights for the promotion, while his opponent Kent Kauppinen (10-4) had just lost his debut for the company by submission.
When a promotion builds a card around putting the local hero in the main event, though, things can easily go awry. The oldest cliche of mixed martial arts (MMA) may be, “anything can happen when that cage door shuts,” but the phrase reared its ugly head again on Dec. 1, 2018. While the more than 5,000 fans in attendance certainly got an exciting main card with four first round finishes, the last one they saw was hardly the one they had in mind.
As the crowd roared their approval of Sakara and referee Dan Miragliotta gave his final instructions, the bout got underway and both men stepped into the fray. Sakara tried to hold the center of the cage, but Kauppinen would rush forward to make him reset. Ringside announcer “Big” John McCarthy was expecting Sakara to unleash a powerful right hand to fell his foe, but Mike Goldberg noted that Kauppinen had finished eight of 10 by knockout in round one. His words were prophetic: Moments later, he ripped Sakara with a left and Sakara was OUT.
The official time of the knockout was 1:10 and the man with his hand raised was not Italy’s favorite son, but the man from Chippenham, Wiltshire, England.
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